The more I discover Google TV, the more it reminds me of an Android to TV implementation that Archos accomplished. They aren’t completely the same but there are some pretty important similarities. I used the Google TV site’s overview to breakdown the similarities. I’ll tell you who does a better job of implementing each feature. Then I’ll tell you what each device offers that the other doesn’t.

First. Let’s talk about devices. Google TV is not one device. It’s essentially an optimized version of Android for TVs. It is currently being utilized by a few different folks including Logitech and Sony. Each offer a set top box version and Sony is shipping TVs with Google TV built in. The Archos 5 Internet Tablet (aka A5A) is exactly what it sounds like. A small tablet geared toward the same kinda things that you might want to accomplish on a netbook or the iPad but with the additional bonus of being an awesome PMP. Whether it achieves iPad level performance completely is another topic of discussion. The A5A has an accessory called the DVR Docking Station turning your pocket size 5″ tablet into a home theater solution. The A5A also runs Google Android but Archos did their own tweaking to optimize for TV sets.

SEARCH:

Google TV-It’s a big “duh” to say that this is what Google does best. For Google TV they’ve managed to aggregate all available media sources for a single search. Let’s say you’re searching for a TV show–you’ll be able to receive search results from YouTube, local channels, media stored on your DVR, web results a bunch more. It’s pretty cool that you can search a movie or show in almost every way you might be able to consume it. It’s almost a little scary too.

A5A-There isn’t a whole lot of change from standard search. You get Google’s search as offered on any Android device, which is great but it’ll yield the same results that you’d expect from an Android phone. Additionally this is running Android 1.6. Android 2.x offers much better searching. Android 2.2 in particular will show results from your contacts, internal storage, apps and web. If the A5A gets a 2.2 update (big IF) then it’ll certainly be elevated to being a better a search feature for TV sets but right now it’s pretty simple.

Who Wins: Google TV.

WEB:

Google TV-Pure and simple, Google TV has the actual Chrome browser. Complete access to the internet with the exception of places like Hulu that are being blocked in favor of subscription based versions:-(. So flle browsing is great but boo to no Hulu or similar content providers.

A5A-Archos uses the browser that comes with Android 1.6 but you can easily get any browser that is currently available on the Market. They all run fine and display the web in all its glory sans flash. That’s right, all the sites can viewed in normal desktop mode and work just fine but there’s no flash. This is that big IF again. IF the A5A gets the 2.2 upgrade then that will change and you’ll have a comparable experience to Google TV.

Who Wins: Google TV. It’d be a draw if the A5A had 2.2.

APPS:

Google TV-You’ll be able to access a lot of the Android Market for apps but in addition to this you’ll have access to apps that are not yet available to Android like Netflix and eventually Hulu plus.

A5A-With a simple patch you’ll be able install the Google services including Market. Again we’re on OS 1.6 here so that means you’ll only be able to use apps that work on that OS version. There are plenty but some popular ones like New York Times, Skype, Twitter and others are not available. Additionally not all apps work right on the TV since Archos does not officially support Google services on its device. YouTube for example plays fine but the video only takes up about 40% of the screen rather than filling it. Archos offers some movie buying/renting apps but the library is not that extensive nor are the releases up to date. That being said, there are still plenty of apps the work very well including: Gmail, Market, GTalk, Google Voice, Maps, Tweet Deck, greader, dropbox, photoshop, facebook, pandora, amazon, imdb wordpress and thousands more.

Who Wins: Google TV. Only because Netflix is a pretty huge game changer. Of course if your media is all recorded TV or DVD rips then you won’t really care.

REMOTE:

Google TV-Logitech gives you a pretty sweet keyboard with built in trackpad for its set top box and has an optional handheld qwerty remote. The Sony comes with a qwerty remote and both units have the option of using an Android phone as a remote. All are pretty cool choices.

A5A-Comes with a qwerty remote that is comparable to the Sony remote and gives all the control you’d expect. Additionally you can use a bluetooth keyboard and control everything. I don’t think there is a way to use a phone as a remote.

Who Wins: I’d say it’s a pretty close call. Both offer a qwerty IRC solution and a wireless keyboard solution. The phone feature is nice but if you don’t have Android then you’re outta luck. And if your phone already does enough stuff, then you won’t use that feature.

OS UI/HOME PAGE:

Google TV-Has a nicely laid out home page to quickly access Bookmarks, Applications, favorite channels etc.

A5A-The standard Android UI with an added widget call the Archos Media Center. Media is broken down into categories: Video, Music, Photo, Games and Media Club. Media Club includes those movie buying/renting apps I talked about.

Who Wins: Toss up. But I’m going with Google TV. Both of these UI’s offer quick access to your content in their own way. The Google TV UI has more reliable aesthetic performance.

DUAL-VIEW:

Google TV-Let’s you do picture in picture except the other picture can be the internet. Pretty neat. Takes out that step of using your laptop with the TV in the background. We all do it!

A5A-Offers multitasking but not at this level. The closest you can get to that is playing Pandora in the background as you browse the web.

Who Wins: Google TV

DVR:

Google TV-DVR content is integrated into the search which is pretty cool. The downside is that if you’re not on Dish Network then you’re gonna miss out. DVRing costs a monthly fee, even if it’s only $4  month but you absolutely have to be a Dish Network customer. Bummer.

A5A-A5A has a similar limitation in that you need to pay a monthly fee for a TV scheduling service to browse shows that you want to record. But that doesn’t even matter if you’re outside Europe because it’s only a European offering. The upside is that if you know what you want to record and on what channel then you can manually DVR it. You can also record live TV on the fly which is pretty cool but you can’t  pause live TV like a Tivo.

Who Wins: Contingent. If you’re on Dish Network then Google TV wins for you. Everyone else can get the lesser of two bummers with the A5A.

STORAGE:

Google TV-The units that are currently shipping are offering 5-8 GB of internal flash storage. This storage is low because it’s not meant to store your media library, just what you’re currently recording. There is no memory expansion on the Logitech or Sony units.

A5A-The folks at Archos are really great at figuring what media junkies love and they love storage options. You can limit yourself to 8GB if you want but they offer many storage solutions: 8 GB, 16 GB, 32GB, 64GB (64 is only Europe), 160 GB and 500GB. If you want this for simple DVRing then an 8GB will do just fine but if you want everything you own on the A5A then you can. On top of this, they offer a microSDHC slot for expansion.

Who Wins: A5A

UPnP:

Google TV-DLNA and UPnP are expected to work but I haven’t come across any feedback from folks on their experience with it.

A5A-Network and UPnP is another thing that Archos aces. It’s one of their specialities, it works right out of the box and is easy to access.

Who Wins: A5A. It’s more of a back burner feature on Google TV where the A5A has fast access to it right from the home screen complete with thumbnail previews of your content.

COST:

Google TV-The cost ranges from $300-$400 for the set top box and as much as $1,400 if you get a TV with it built in.

A5A-The A5A is actually on its way out because it’s last year’s tech and needs to make room for the next generation. That being said you can pick up an A5A 8 GB for as low as $150 or a 500 GB for as much as $350. Then you need to add the cost of the DVR station which is $300. For an 8GB A5A DVR solution you’re looking at $250. Not terrible.

Who Wins: A5A

GAMING:

Google TV-So far as I know, it doesn’t have it. You can play online flash based games I’d imagine.

A5A-I’ve tried a few 3D racing games on the A5A and they all perform nicely. They also fit the screen perfectly. Not to mention you can also play emulators.

Who Wins: A5A.

PERFORMANCE:

Google TV-Based off a much newer version of Android, the software is built for speed. Additionally, many units ship with a CPU/RAM combo that’ll really speed up things. There have been complaints about bugs in the Logitech Rrevue that will most likely be taken care of in a firmware update.

A5A-I like this guy but it is buggy as hell. It’s much better than it was a year ago but there are still kinks to be sorted out. Random crashes etc. If Archos decides to stop supporting it and these bugs aren’t addressed then I might jump ship. I’m working it still because I see frequent improvements and I’m hoping that some good updates are soon to follow. Tim will tell.

Who Wins: Google TV. Google TV is being implemented by bigger companies with bigger developer departments so solve issues faster. Sometimes the little guys have better ideas but they lack the resources and the staffing. Such is the case with Archos.

FINAL SCORE:

Google TV-7

A5A-6

Pretty close. I should point out that this is not a flawless test. Also, this is a comparison of features. Depending on what’s more important to you, this score board could be completely different. Media junkies and TV junkies aren’t entirely the same people. Some people hoard content and others just consume is dispose when done. If you’re not into games then that is something to consider to. In short I’d ask you to consider the score I got and then look deeper into these features and see which you’d personally use. Hope this was insightful!

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