The Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player with Google TV is a stylish, slim black set-top box that won't look out of place in the most stylish of living rooms. All the ports and the power cable sit nicely around the back, and a single white LED blinks out from the front. It's fully on board with Sony's style principles: we slipped it on top of our PlayStation 3 beneath the TV and they sat together nicely like long-lost siblings.

You get HDMI in- and out ports so you can route through the signal from your existing set-top box, as well as two USB ports, an optical digital audio output, and an ethernet connector (in case you are such a cable fetishist that the Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player's power cable and two HDMI leads aren't enough to add to your set up). 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi is also enabled, as you'd expect.  Visit: Digital Home Advisor

Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player: hot but silent

In use the Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player is virtually silent, although we found it was quite warm to touch after prolonged us. No fans, you see? however it does run hot, despite the vented sidepanels. There's no hard drive - it's not a PVR - although the device does have 8GB onboard for app storage. The Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player runs Android 3.0 Honeycomb.

The remote is a thing of beauty. A double-sided device that brings you a qwerty keyboard, touchpad and traditional remote capabilities. It's both an infrared remote and a Bluetooth keyboard. And you can set it up to control all of your devices, making the Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player a space saver - in that respect.

Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player remote

Because the Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player is yet another box to site around your TV. So what does it add to the party? In Google's own word Google TV places the best of the internet on your TV screen: YouTube, Google Play and the Chrome web browser. The Sony NSZ-GS7 also brings in Sony's own media apps.

In our words the Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player adds smart TV to the dumbest of telly boxes. Is that worth £200? It may be, but the key factor is online content. And on that score we're only getting started, the UK especially.

Setting up the Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player with Google TV

Set up was simple. Really simple: we're talking Apple-levels of consumer-friendliness. Typically, there is no HDMI cable supplied, so you'll need to purchase another one of those, but you simply take the HDMI cable that currently runs from set-top box to TV, pop that into the Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player's HDMI in port, and run another cable from the Sony to your TV. Then switch on, set your TV's input to the HDMI port, and follow the onscreen instructions.

Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player and Google TV

The interface says it will take 20 minutes to set up, but we were there in less than 10. This includes a clever little process by which you tell the devices exactly how big your screen is, so it can use every inch. 1080p HD content positively sings off the screen.

Once up and running you can watch TV as normal, via the Google/Sony box, or even switch it off and your set-top box will route through without you noticing that the Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player is there. Once switched on, you have an internet-enabled TV. You can also play virtually any media file from a memory stick via the USB ports - supported files include MP3, MKV, FLAC, AVI, WMA, WMV, AAC and WAV.

We connected to the web via our wireless network, and it all worked fine. It has to be pointed out, however, that heavy use of the device on our putative 10-meg connection left it breathless and feeling the strain.

Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player and Google TV: what's the point?

The biggest problem with Google TV devices in the UK is the lack of content. Watching PC Advisor product reviews on YouTube via our 32in TV was brilliant (although the wind needed to be behind the router in order for us to watch them in HD - the Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player downgrades the quality to match the connectivity). It was also fun to be able to browse the web and access our favourite apps on the biggest screen in the house. Utilising picture in picture to check out IMDB whilst watching a movie is a fun, if potentially marriage-ending, diversion.

Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player and Google TV

But for £200 I am looking for something that offers capabilities not elsewhere. And unless I am missing something, there's noit much of that about. There is a Netflix app, of course, but I can get that via the aforementioned PS3. And the Google TV box doesn't yet offer dedicated TV catch-up apps for services such as BBC iPlayer or 4oD. You can view such content via the web browser, of course but... did I mention the games console? To be fair, Google has said that an iPlayer app is in the process of being built.

There's the Sony Entertainment Network, of course, which offers access to Sony's dedicated on-demand movies and music services.

It's probably unfair to criticise the Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player and Google TV in general for lack of content. We're a small island with its own licensing laws: like Amazon, Google has to painstakingly negotiate deals with content producers in every territory, and then wait for those media makers to create apps and services. But unfair as it is, it makes the £200 outlay for this slick piece of software feel like a lot to me.

Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player and Google TV

NEXT: our first look at the Sony NSZ-GS7 with Google TV from July >>

Sony's NSZ-GS7 Google TV is the first Google TV product to launch outside of the US. We've had some hands-on time with the internet player so here are our first thoughts. By Chris Martin.

Google TV is, as put simply by the company itself, the best of the internet on your TV screen: YouTube, Google Play and the Chrome web browser.

Sony's GS7 box is small, although not as tiny as the latest Apple TV. It's discrete and good looking with its glossy black finish. All the ports sit neatly on the back of the device. Sony says it will cost £199 when it goes on sale in August, however we've seen the NSZ-GS7 up for pre-order at Very.co.uk for £189.

Sony NSZ-GS7 Google TV remote

If you have a little bit more to spend, £100 more, in fact, there's also a version of the Sony Google TV which includes a Blu-ray player: the NSZ-GP9. This could be a better option if you happen to be looking to buy both bits of tech but you'll have to wait until October to get one.

The Sony NSZ-GS7 doesn't have a TV tuner but it does an HDMI input and output. The idea is that you plug your existing Sky, Virgin, Freeview box into it and the video is mixed it into the Google TV interface. Other connectivity includes digital audio output, Ethernet, USB and Wi-Fi.

Digital Home Advisor

The remote control is fairly compact featuring a touchpad in the middle with buttons above and below like Home and Menu. Volume and channel rockers are on the side and flip the remote over and you find a qwerty keyboard for text input. The remote has motion sensors and cleverly disables the touchpad and buttons when the remote is turned over.

Sony NSZ-GS7 Google TV remote keyboard

An alternative to the remote is a free app for iOS and Android which allows you to control the box from your smartphone or tablet, though we haven’t tried this out yet.

Navigation around the interface is simple and intuitive. You can move around with a circle of arrow keys or use the touchpad with a mouse cursor. There's a picture in picture (PIP) function so you can multitask, and the size of the image and its position can be adjusted.

You can access the Google Play Store from the box but it's worth pointing out that you won't find 600,000 apps to choose from, as you would from your smartphone or tablet. The choice of apps available to a Google TV box currently stands at about 100.

That could be plenty, but we didn't see anything particularly interesting while browsing. Sony told us that more apps are on their way. The package seems a bit lacking at this point since there is no BBC iPlayer, Netflix, LoveFilm or other TV catch-up or on-demand services, but there is one major saving grace: the Chrome browser.

Sony NSZ-GS7 Google TV interface

Having Chrome means that not only can you surf the web like you would on your PC, albeit not as fluidly, but you can access any of the TV services which you normally watch on a laptop.

This provides a couple of bonuses over many set-top boxes. For starters you'll be able to watch videos in HD where they're available, whereas most set-top boxes limit you to the standard definition streams. Second, and more importantly, you won't be limited to seven-day catch-up services, which is what most competing boxes offer. Taking 4OD (Channel 4 on-demand) as an example, you can watch entire collections of TV shows rather than just what's been on over the last week.

We were pleased to find that you can synchronise the Chrome browser with the one on your desktop. This means you could easily set up a list of bookmarks to use on the Google TV to get quick access to websites and video services without typing in a URL. If this isn't enough there's also access to the Sony Entertainment Network so you can listen to music or watch films.

We're looking forward to getting the Sony NSZ-GS7 Google TV in for an in-depth test, so look out for the full review on this page.

Follow Chris Martin and @PCAdvisor on Twitter.

Sony NSZ-GS7 Google TV: Specs

  • Internal Local storage: 8GB
  • 204x35x130mm
  • (0.6kg
  • 100BASE-TX
  • 2x HDMI
  • Optical Audio Output
  • 2x USB
  • 60Hz, AC 120V
  • 802.11/b/g/n
  • Energy Star Compliant
  • Remote Control: NSG-MR5U
  • Bitmap, GIF, JPEG, MPO, PNG
  • 3gpp/H264, 3gpp/H264 -AVC, 3gpp/MPEG4-SP, AVI/H.264, AVI/MPEG4 SP, MKV/H.264, MOV, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, MVC, WMV/WMV10, Xvid
  • USB Storage
  • Digital Still/Video Camera
  • Flash Memory (FAT32), Flash Memory (NTFS), HDD (FAT32), HDD (NTFS), PSP
  • Supported File System: FAT32/NTFS
  • 3gpp (AAC LC/LTP), 3gpp (HE-AACv1/v2), AAC LC/LTP, AAC-LC, AC3/DD, HE-AACv1/v2, LPCM/WAV, MDI, MP3, WMA
  • Internal Local storage: 8GB
  • 204x35x130mm
  • (0.6kg
  • 100BASE-TX
  • 2x HDMI
  • Optical Audio Output
  • 2x USB
  • 60Hz, AC 120V
  • 802.11/b/g/n
  • Energy Star Compliant
  • Remote Control: NSG-MR5U
  • Bitmap, GIF, JPEG, MPO, PNG
  • 3gpp/H264, 3gpp/H264 -AVC, 3gpp/MPEG4-SP, AVI/H.264, AVI/MPEG4 SP, MKV/H.264, MOV, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, MVC, WMV/WMV10, Xvid
  • USB Storage
  • Digital Still/Video Camera
  • Flash Memory (FAT32), Flash Memory (NTFS), HDD (FAT32), HDD (NTFS), PSP
  • Supported File System: FAT32/NTFS
  • 3gpp (AAC LC/LTP), 3gpp (HE-AACv1/v2), AAC LC/LTP, AAC-LC, AC3/DD, HE-AACv1/v2, LPCM/WAV, MDI, MP3, WMA

OUR VERDICT

Well-built and full-featured, the Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player with Google TV is a slick consumer device that will look good in any living room. The trouble right now is that Google TV doesn't really offer enough to justify outlay.

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