If, like us, you've been wondering what's happening with the Google TV platform, it looks like it's still attracting support, at least from LG Electronics. The company, which had a single G2 Google TV series tin 2012, will expand its lineup in 2013 with seven models spread across two new Google TV series.
Google recently updated the Google TV software to include voice commands, which we recently tested in a Google TV settop box shootout between Sony's NSZ-GS7 and Vizio's Co-Star. One main benefit to the Google TV platform, other than providing access to the Google Play apps market, is its comprehensive search capability, so that whatever is playing on live TV—as well as what's available via apps and from the Internet—shows up as an option when you search for movies or TV shows.
The new GA6400 series will be available in 42-, 47-, 50-, 55- and 60-inch screen sizes, while the step-up GA7900 models—which feature a different, more streamlined design (called Cinema Screen) with an ultra-narrow bezel and a unique-looking stand—will be offered in 47- and 55-inch screen sizes. Both models are 1080p LCD TVs with edge LED backlights, 120Hz technology, built-in Wi-Fi, and LG's passive Cinema 3D technology, as well as dual-core processors. Prices and availability haven't yet been released, but we expect to get more information at the upcoming Consumer Electronics show in early January.
Both models will come with a redesigned Magic Qwerty Remote, which includes an embedded microphone for using the voice-control feature, as well as a full keyboard and point-and-click control. Like the redesigned Magic Remote that will come with its other smart TVs, the Google TV remote has a voice feature that's been enhanced, with natural language recognition to make communicating with the TV more intuitive. You can now search for TV shows and movies using more general terms, such as genre, and change channels by saying just the channel number or station, or go to a website with a single voice command. LG has also updated its dashboard using icon-based "cards" that act as content folders to make finding and organizing content easier.
The latest Google TV update also includes improved YouTube functionality, so you can now easily pair a mobile device to your TV over your Wi-Fi network, enabling content from a smart phone or tablet to be displayed on the TV.
So the big question is whether Google TV will really gain traction in 2013. Although LG says that it's been happy with the reception its G2-series sets received in 2012, Google TV is still only a small part of the company's overall smart TV lineup. And so far no other major brands have stepped up to announce new Google-powered TVs. But we'll be reporting live from CES during the first week of January, so we'll see if Google TV gains additional support during the show. We'll also be checking out plans for several new TV technologies, including Ultra HD sets and OLED TVs.
Visit our CES 2013 page at ConsumerReports.org for all our coverage.