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Internet TV boxes: Nvidia pips Google for Android remote control, Google TV, keyboard, set-top box
One of the more bizarre gadgets to cross the desk of the FT’s Personal Tech column was  remote control for the original Google TV. Google’s first attempt at a internet-based “cable killer” box was launched in 2010 and accessory featured dozens of buttons, including a tiny Qwerty keyboard. It looked totally unapproachable and confusing. Google’s software was little better and was eventually discontinued last year.
Now Google is making another bid for control of the living room with Android TV, a big-screen version of its smartphone operating system. Instead of all those buttons, Android TV remotes have a microphone. The idea is you can just tell it what you want to watch and it will find the best results from its own library and hundreds of apps.
Unlike its predecessor, Android TV is no embarrassment when stacked up to rival internet-streaming boxes such as Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, but it still falls short on usability.
Searching for more
Google sells its own Android TV set-top box, the Nexus Player, and the software is also being built directly into a growing number of television sets from Sharp and, yes, Sony. I have been testing the more powerful Shield Android TV box, made by Nvidia, a company better known for making high-performance graphics chips for PCs. The Nvidia Shield boasts ultra-high-definition 4K video, dedicated games and a nippy Tegra X1 processor.
The Android TV interface is straightforward, organised into rows for apps, games and personalised recommendations. While the range of Android apps that work on TV could be broader, many of the familiar internet video services are available, including Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV and soon HBO. However, Google tends to feature its own Play store and YouTube app more prominently than third-party apps. That is especially true in search results when using that microphone.


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