Sony’s Android TV is slick, easy to navigate and offers viewers plenty of Google OS-based apps
At least for some of us, who don’t love to soak in the soap shows, Indian television has a severe lack of good, interesting content. But what if you could circumvent live content completely and that too without downloading anything or yoking an external element to the TV? This is where the new range of Android televisions could over time change the way we consume content on the large screen.
Sony has been the first to launch an Android TV—Sony Android TV (KDL-50W950C)—running the made-for-TV version of Google’s operating system and powered by a MediaTek Processor. These televisions, available in Full HD and 4K options, can do everything a smart TV is expected to do. But being Android, they also work seamlessly with other devices in your home.
What is good?
The most important feature of any television is the display quality. And whatever you might think, everything else is immaterial if the display quality is not upto the mark. Sony does not have an issue on this front with a really good Full HD screen that offers perfect colour reproduction whatever be the source of the content.
A lot of smart televisions before have been powered by Android, but I doubt if anything before has had this deep level of integration. The TV homescreen is almost like the homescreen of an Android TV, at least from a usability perspective. The search bar is prominent on top of the screen and you can type a query or use voice search to play anything from YouTube, or even an external storage drive.
The Android TV user interface is perfect for the task it has set out to achieve. Apps are large enough to be selected easily and the flow of navigation is easy to understand and master. There is a watch TV option that opens access to the DTH connection on its own without you having to remember the HDMI source. The action menu lets you open all the important settings from the TV screen itself and there is no need to go to a separate settings page or app.
Talking about controls, Sony has taken care to reduce the frustration levels in controlling a smart television by launching an extra Touchpad remote that lets you swipe and click your way through everything the television has to offer. LG has something similar a few years back, but Sony takes it to the next level by adding a full touch panel to it.
The television comes with a bunch of preloaded apps and games. Along with the bunch of Google apps, there is also Serial AbTak which I guess will appeal to a lot of soap loving Indians. The app lets you catch on popular TV serials hours after they have been initially broadcast. You can download and play any Android game on this television and you might actually take this seriously as you can link a console controller to the television to play the games. I tried playing a few games with the touchpad as well as the original remote and the experience was far from successful.
There are a lot of extras that add value to the television, among them a TV camera that lets you make Skype calls or just trying to impress the kids by showing up on the screen. Also, there is a picture in picture mode that can capture how you reacted to a certain event on the TV.
What is not that good?
Frankly, the experience was very good. The only thing that kept annoying me was the fact that the television kept forgetting my Wi-Fi connection and would show there was no internet connection. This is very frustrating especially since everything else on the network was working fine. A sound connection is very critical for the success of the entire Android TV concept.
If you are looking to pick up a smart television then an Android TV makes more sense than most other models in the market at the moment. Plus, the Sony TVs are priced reasonably too, starting at as low as Rs 65,000, which given the features is not too much. Even I am tempted to upgrade.
* 50-inch Motionflow XR 800Hz Full HD Triluminos Display
* X-Reality PRO video processing
* 10W+10W+10W+10W 2.2ch, Two way speaker x 2, Subwoofer x 2
* 16 GB internal storage
** Estimated street price: Rs 1,35,000