Sony introduces first Google TV

Google TV got a major marketing boost last week as Sony introduced a new line of television sets with Google’s new Internet service built-in to the set. It allows users to use the Internet while watching television programming and does not require a set-top box.

Although the new multitasking Sony TVs cut clutter by combining components, the remote control is complex and may be intimidating to many users. That’s because its mini keyboard allows users to post messages on Twitter, stream movies from Netflix and read the news. A Google search engine is intended to make it easier to find show times or programs stored on a digital video recorder.

The new Sony HD sets come in four sizes, and are priced as follows: 24in ($600); 32in ($800); 40in ($1000); 46in ($1400). They were available starting last weekend through and Best Buy.

Most Web commentary has been over Sony’s remote control for the Google TV. It appears to be a mini-computer keyboard, which has prompted a wave of criticism over its apparent complexity. About 6in across, the remote includes an optical mouse for moving the cursor and a home button to return users to the basic start screen.

Coming soon is an application for Google’s Android phones that allows use of the phones as a remote control for Google TV. Voice navigation will also be possible.

Sony executives said the target market for Google TV is people under 43, who the executives say are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about Internet-connected television.

Apple, Roku, Boxee and Logitech all offer competing technology for connecting television sets to the Internet. But each uses a set-top box approach, while Sony’s TV comes with the electronics integrated within the TV set.

Sony also introduced a Blu-ray player powered by Google TV. Priced at $400, it has the same functionality for users who don’t want to replace their existing television sets.