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First Android "Dragonpoint" TV Coming From Sony Next Month

Illustration for article titled First Android Dragonpoint TV Coming From Sony Next Month

Google's TV ambitions scrambled into view last month, when the NYT outlined the company's plans. Today, we learn a little more: Google—with Sony—is making an announcement next month, around a version of Android called Dragonpoint. UPDATED

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Dragonpoint! We've reached out to Google for what on earth this is—it could be anything from a codename for a new widget interface to a whole new fork in the Android project—but here's what we're working with now. Says Bloomberg:

Sony, aiming to win back share lost to Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc., would use Intel and Google to help produce televisions and Blu-ray DVD players with Internet access. Intel, whose processors run 80 percent of personal computers, wants to get its chips into new areas, including mobile phones and consumer electronics...

...Intel is contributing a customized version of its Atom chip that will run a new version of Google's Android operating system called Dragonpoint.

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Sony's Blu-ray players/set-top boxes boxes/TVs will run Android atop a variant of Intel Atom processors—odd, but not unheard of—and almost certainly incorporate video acceleration, if not in the for of Nvidia's Ion, in a similar product from Intel themselves. Logitech will make a special keyboard-y remote. It's nice to have some new details here, but this info falls well within predictions from last month. Except, well, the Android part.

What Google is facing in adapting Android to be suitable for TVs is nearly unprecedented. Desktop operating systems like Windows have to be massively overhauled to be functional in a TV context (see: Windows Media Center). To adapt a mobile OS to TVs is something else entirely: easier in some ways, since the OS is already suited to remote-control-style navigation, by virtue of having been built around devices with d-pads and a handful of buttons; and harder in others, since it was designed for use on palm-sized screens.

What we'll probably (hopefully?) see here is a piece of software with an heretofore unseen interface, bearing virtually no resemblance to the Android we're used to. And that's fine! The point here is to lay the groundwork for connected TV software that any manufacturer can use, that's built on a real, internet-centric operating system, and which gives developers a platform that they can write for that isn't doomed by brand exclusivity or general crappiness. On another note, this is a rare chance for Sony to get out in front of everyone else on a genuinely exciting new concept, so, yay Sony!

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The announcement is expected on May 19th or 20th, with both Sony and Google on the stage. We'll keep you up to speed.

UPDATE: Google's response to our inquiry:

You won't be surprised to hear we don't comment on rumor or speculation. Sorry.

[Bloomberg]

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DISCUSSION

I still think this is a terrible idea.

The lifespan of your typical television is far greater than the lifespan of most other electronics. People are willing to pay what they pay for a good TV because they expect to get five to ten years out of the device.

If we start building functions that truly belong in a set top box directly into the TV itself then the entire TV will be obsolete in 2 years.

Rather than replacing a $200 set top box, we'll be replacing a $3,000 TV every two years?

Good luck with this Sony.