Improvementalism:
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FaceOff: Does Google TV or Apple TV Have the Upper Hand?

Posted on July 11, 2011
Something juicy we're working on lately - super flat screen TV installation

Custom Ultra thin flat screen TV media center

Do you ever wish that you could visit a website called Gapple? Or Apoogle? These two tech giants are constantly facing off with regard to technology, and it’s tough to determine who the current frontrunner is when it comes to their products. One day you’re a Mac. The next, a PC. It’s tiring. And since ¾’s of the population isn’t fortunate enough to have dual operating systems in their homes, we find ourselves identifying with one versus the other.Enter Google and Apple in the TV world. Wonderful. They’ve found yet another way to put a wedge between themselves and confuse the common consumer with products that are seemingly similar.

So, what’s the deal with Google TV and Apple TV? Are they the same thing with different makeup on? Is this a Coke versus Pepsi issue? Or are they really not the same thing at all? Here’s the scoop on the who, where, when, what, why and how.

Who: If you’re a tech junkie, you love upgrading your in-home experience and having the latest toys. These devices are sleek. They do cool things. They look great on the coffee table. And you want one! But do you know why? More on that in a few.

What: Without further ado, let’s chat about the fundamental differences with these devices. Apple TV is a digital media receiver that redirects content from iTunes, YouTube, Flickr, and MobileMe to your TV. You can watch movies and TV shows, listen to music, and show off your vacation photos to a standing-room only crowd at your next party… That’s where the buck stops though. Google TV, on the other hand, is a software platform. Simply put, it’s like your computer had kids with your TV. With Google TV, you can download 3rd party apps like Twitter, Facebook, or MSNBC, and your TV screen becomes an extension of your computer monitor. Google TV is customizable, whereas Apple TV is not, and also features a picture-in-picture (PIP) capability if you’re surfing the web and catching up on HGTV at the same time (busted!)

Supremely awesome Island inspired crash pad for a young actress

When: Both Google TV and Apple TV make it possible to watch whatever you want virtually whenever you want. We like this.  It helps for those days when you drank too much coffee and can’t sleep at 3:47 am.

Where: Neither of these devices are mobile, meaning they’re something you will set-up in your home on a particular TV and keep there. Is your home outfitted with a TV in every room? If so, either option will be an expensive prophecy, as a unique Google or Apple device is required for each TV, and there is no way to split them like traditional cable. (anybody know a hack?)

Why: You’re cool. We’ve established that. And you want the same up-to-the-minute technology that you read about on tech blogs. Both Google TV and Apple TV bring another dimension to home entertainment, and for movie buffs and people who are tired of having to DVR shows or buy expensive movies on pay-per-view, either of these options makes a lot of sense. They bring what you want to you when you want it, kind of like an entertainment butler.

How: Apple TV is a small receiver box that sends content from your computer to your TV. It’s a cinch to set-up, and the audio and video quality is better at 720p than Google TV is at 1080p. Google TV takes more patience to get running, and you need a Logitech keyboard, Sony-equipped TV, or a DISH box to make this dream a reality, but once it’s up and running, the possibilities are endless regarding what you look at on-screen. The most important question to ask yourself is, “What am I planning to do with this technology?” Your answer will help determine whether you’re a Googler or if an Apple a day will keep your techno obsession at bay. If all else fails, get one of each and really impress your house guests.

Do you have Apple TV or Google TV?  How do you like it?  Sound off below! Reporting live from my PC, back to you.

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  • heather

    We have basic cable with Time Warner($14 a month for regular broadcast channels plus most regular cable channels…hgtv, bravo, e, espn, mtv…). We got the apple tv so we could watch Netflix on the tv. It was super super easy to set up (plug and play for real). Netflix has been great, but I wish it had more movies to watch on demand instead of having to do the dvd in the mail thing. It’s been great for the kids though…endless cartoons and nature videos.

    I do wish I could access the internet – if it can do youtube, why not yahoo mail, perezhilton or gardenweb.com? And since we don’t have a recording device on the tv, I do catch up on my Friday Night Lights on abc.com…wish I could watch that on the tv instead of on my computer.

    Google tv…this is the first I’ve heard of it… Sounds good except all the hassle… logitec keyboard, dish box… sony tv (we do have that, but maybe it’s too old and doesn’t have the right plug?). 

    I’ll stick with what we have for now… apple is sure to come back with something bigger soon…

  • heather

    Friday Night Lights on nbc.com.. whoops

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