Yesterday, ABC News showed a prototype of a Sony Google TV remote control. The prototype is as clunky as a label-printer. It has a full Qwerty keyboard and a game controller at the top. It looks like it will be difficult to use with one hand, making it hard to use while holding a beer during the ballgame, or eating popcorn during a movie. On the plus side, it looks like it will be very efficient for typing with two thumbs – something that will be nice as users search for specific internet content, or type a long URL to see a friend’s latest vacation pictures based on a website (rather than an installed App).
Google TV platforms should also all support using any smartphone as a remote control – including multiple remote controls working on a single console – therefore, this two handed remote could be one of two people use to control the system. Some the other newly released Smart TV remotes take more cues from Smartphones. The TiVo Slide Remote looks like a traditional remote on the top, with a slide out Qwerty keyboard, a second navigation wheel and a full numeric keypad underneath. Phillips Home Control has shown a dual sided, flat remote that looks elegant but may not have enough tactile, color or shape cues to be used in the dark. The Motorola NYXboard appears slimmer than the Sony remote and has less gaming capability, but will suffer some of the same problems.
Based on the controller design – it is also clear that Sony sees gaming on the TV as an important driver. Similar to other gaming controllers, the two directional pads are used for gaming -- the one on the left is often for navigating (e.g. walking) while the other one is often directional (e.g. looking around or adjusting the camera angle). It wouldn't surprise us if there are triggers behind the controller as well. This push to gaming on the TV echoes some news at Intel Developer’s Forum earlier this month – notably, TransGaming announced a GameTreeTV platform that will port many existing titles to the Intel Smart TV platform. Note that the initial announcement appears more designed for MeeGo or another Linux variant, and may take some additional work for the Google TV platform.