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Using GoogleTV to Expand Your DVR

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Using GoogleTV to Expand Your DVR
Logitech

If you're looking for a way to add streaming content to your cable or satellite provided DVR, Logitech's GoogleTV powered Revue is a relatively low priced way to do so. There are other streaming options on the market such as the Roku line, but GoogleTV connects directly to your current DVR to provide an overlay which enhances your viewing options as opposed to replacing them. The Android powered platform wasn't received well at first but with recent updates and the ability to run a limited selection of apps from the Android Market, GoogleTV is poised to become a central part of many peoples' living rooms.

While the Logitech hardware has been discontinued, you can apply what is discussed here to other GoogleTV products as they all run similar, if not identical, versions of Android. There have been several announcements from CES 2012 and we'll soon be seeing GoogleTV built into more and more HDTVs and other hardware.

Apps

The core of GoogleTV is the Android OS, but while that provides the foundation, it's the apps that are available on the platform that bring the extra content. While you won't find a ton of apps available for GoogleTV, the ones that are available to you fall into several categories and can add to your TV viewing experience depending on what you enjoy. All ready to go out of the box, you'll find Chrome web browser. Like a web browser on your PC, you can view websites, check your email and surf to your heart's content. Several networks who normally stream content such as Fox and ABC have blocked GoogleTV's browser however so be aware that you won't be able to just jump to a site for streaming content.

You'll also find Google's "TV and Movies" app which has taken over the job that my DVR's guide was doing until now. The app displays current and upcoming shows and movies by genre with coverart and descriptions. You can filter the information you see and then jump over to your DVR's guide to schedule recordings.

When it comes to adding apps from the marketplace, they fall into several categories. First up is TV and Movies. Here you'll find several selections, including some that are already pre-installed such as Netflix. Several other developers have produced apps that will bring extra content to your device as well such as Crunchyroll for Japanese anime, NFB Films, NASCAR.com and YuppTV for Indian content.

Under the News category, you'll find apps from Fox Business, Foxe News, CNN Money and The Wall Street Journal. News360 is also available but I just can't see myself reading much news on my TV. The app will aggregate streaming content as well and while I haven't tried it, I can imagine it would be helpful if you provided the right information or feeds for it to pull from.

For music, you have several choices including Pandora, Rhapsody and Napster. Google Music is also available and is one of my favorite services. The ability to store 20,000 tracks in the cloud and stream them to any Android device is great and it works just as well on GoogleTV.

There are several games available for the platform but I have yet to try any. I simply have no desire to use a keyboard and touchpad to play games on my TV when there's a perfectly good Xbox 360 connected to it. That may not be the case for you however and the games provided may be worth checking out.

Finally, you'll also find a few social networking apps including Twitter. There's no native Facebook app but Seesmic has you covered and there are others that will work as well. Several of these apps offer widgets that you can make visible when you bring up your home menu. I thought this would be an issue but it's actually nice seeing the latest posts from my social networks as I change apps. I have yet to sit and just read tweets but that quick glance is nice to have.

Again, you won't find 30,000 apps available for GoogleTV but there are more than what I've tried and I would encourage you to seek out the ones you're looking for.

Conclusion

It would be nice if more apps could be pushed out for GoogleTV. I'd love to see HBO Go, Max Go and other networks start to offer streaming services on the platform. While it will take time, I have a feeling this will happen. While selection is limited at the time, the platform does offer a way to expand the use of your current DVR and at $99 the Logitech Revue offers a good start. That is, as long as you can still find them. In the end, whether you choose to pick up a Revue or a different device, GoogleTV is maturing and will continue to do so.

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