Just as Sony announced their new Google TV set top box, the Google TV site itself saw a major overhaul, all suspiciously happening just days before this years Google I/O. Not only that, but now the Google TV service is to launch in the UK - two years after its US debut.

Google TV has had a chequered past, and those following it from the start have seen many UI changes too. The most notorious problem was the Logitech Revue fail, and it's rather telling that there's now no mention of that anywhere on the new site at all. The timing is also interesting to industry watchers following that other tech giant dabbling with TV - Apple - since rumours are rife they're about to make a big move too.

Buddy boxes

Google now makes the distinction betweeen integrated TV systems and "buddy boxes". These are what you and I knew of as set top boxes, an example of which is the even snappier named Sony NSZ-GS7. Gentle name mockery aside, this is a seriously cool piece of kit. Its remote is double sided - you'll find a qwerty keyboad on one, and a button + trackpad arrangement on the other. The keys on the trackpad side bear more than a passing resemblance to an Android handset - you can see the master plan all coming together in front of your eyes. Neat.

Google too are ramping up their efforts, starting with the website makeover:

 

 

Google TV in the UK

Sonys internet player, the NSZ-GS7, launches on 22 July in the UK at $199, and will mean it's the first Google TV manufacturer to offer the service outside the USA. A Blu-ray player with Google TV, the NSZ-GP9, will follow - that's priced at $299 and also features voice recognition. Both offer the Chrome browser with access to hundreds of Google-TV optimised apps. The remote even features Wii-style motion detection, so who knows how far this can go as an attmpt to replace all your TV boxes - sorry, buddy boxes - including the games consoles, with a single all-singing all-dancing unit?

"Expanding the reach and interoperability of the powerful Android platform with Sony's smartphones, tablets and renowned Audio & Video products, we are proud to continue our relationship with Google through the introduction of the new Google TV set-top-box," explained Phil Molyneux, president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics. "Entertainment content is available through so many channels and sites, and Google TV helps consumers easily find what they want to watch, listen to or play using familiar search engine technology, enhancing the viewer experience. TV will never be the same."