Sony NSZ-GS7 review – summary
Sony's Google TV box lets your TV surf the web via Chrome while Sony Entertainment Network takes care of music and movies, and Google Play handles games. Sounds perfect to us, but is it enough to end Apple TV and YouView's hopes of taking over our living rooms?
Sony NSZ-GS7 review – specs
The box itself weighs 600g and is 130mm x 204mm x 35mm so should slide nicely onto a spare shelf around your home cinema set-up and PVR. It can handle 3D video, streaming and photos and comes with 8GB of storage.
It'll play nice with most formats too: playing back XviD, WMV10, MPEG and MKV video files, opening up JPEGs, GIFs, PNGs and BMPs and playing MP3s, AACs and WMA music files. In terms of inputs and outputs, there's HDMI-in, HDMI-out, built-in Wi-Fi, DLNA, Ethernet and two USB ports.
Sony NSZ-GS7 review – remote
Compared with the minimalism of the Apple TV remote, Sony's feature-packed zapper looks crazily cluttered: one side has a laptop-style touchpad, while the reverse has a full keyboard for searching, tweeting and emailing. It has motion tracking for games, too, and despite the complex design, it can become useful with perserverence.
Sony NSZ-GS7 review – Chrome browser
One of the big bonuses of having a Google-powered streamer is that it gets a full Chrome browser, which certainly functions better than any other TV-bound one we've seen to date. True, it lacks the slickness of a computer or smartphone, but embedded videos – so often a stumbling block for custom browsers – work seamlessly here.
Sony NSZ-GS7 review – HDMI input
As well as carrying the obvious HDMI output, the box also has an HDMI input, which allows you to connect a PVR to watch via the Google TV GUI and control with the remote. It also allows for very good picture-in-picture action, so you can watch the football on Sky while tweeting about Lee Cattermole's finer qualities.
Sony NSZ-GS7 review – versus Sony SMP-N200 streamer
You'd expect the GS7 to have all of the features of Sony's existing £100 SMP-N200 streamer plus Google TV, but that's not the case. So far, Google TV lacks many of the older Sony's most popular apps, such as Facebook, Lovefilm and iPlayer. Of course, Chrome makes all of those available, but dedicated apps would be neater.
Sony NSZ-GS7 review – Google TV interface
While hardly stunning, the Google TV interface is simple and effective. You can customise the home screen with your own wallpaper and a number of widgets (well, two at present, but we can expect it to increase), while the All Apps menu accesses the apps you don't have on the home screen. See? Simple and effective.
Sony NSZ-GS7 review – network streaming
Disappointingly, the GS7 doesn't natively support streaming across your network. Help is at hand, though, in the form of the Plex for Google TV. for just 62p. Install Plex on the Sony box and the free Media Manager on your computer, and you've got yourself an impressively slick streaming solution – although formats such as disk images aren't supported.
Sony NSZ-GS7 review – Sony Entertainment Network and apps
Not all of Sony's smart TV apps have made it to the GS7 but Sony Entertainment has. As well as a Spotify-style music subscription service, it also has access to Video Unlimited – which, thanks to a high-standard, up-to-date library and superb HD quality, is perhaps the best movie-on-demand service after iTunes.
Also, there are a number of optimised websites for Google TV including Poker Fun. It allows you and a bunch of friends to play Texas hold 'em, displaying each player's cards on their smartphone screen. It's hardly a dealbreaker when choosing to buy, but it's fun and will take up less space in your living room than a poker table.
Sony NSZ-GS7 review – Airtight for Android
Fancy a bit of AirPlay on your non-Apple media streamer? Get the 65p Airtight app for Android. True, it only supports video and photos (not music) at present, but it otherwise works just as seamlessly as Apple's own solution.
The First Hour
This doesn't really feel like £200 worth of kit
HDMI input means it can pass-thru my Sky. Clever, that
I don't have enough fingers for this remote
No built-in network streaming but at least Plex is cheap
But where are the rest of the app? Slim pickings
Lovefilm via a browser isn't neat but embedded video does work like a charm