Google TV due this month in U.S.

Google says its Google TV device, which aims to add internet functions and web surfing to television sets, will be released this month in the United States.

Google says its Google TV device, which aims to add internet functions and web surfing to television sets, will be released this month in the United States.

The search company said Monday it has teamed with a number of content providers, including Turner Broadcasting, HBO and NBC Universal, to bring specialized programming, optimized websites and apps to the device.

Google has not indicated what the device will cost, but a spokesman said it will be limited to a U.S. launch at first.

Google TV will combine regular television programming with interactive content found on the web by adding a specialized version of Chrome, the company's browser, to the screen, Google said. It will be available through a set-top box built by Logitech, or incorporated directly into Sony's Internet TV.

The company is promising "seamless" switching between watching and surfing, and users will be able to do both at once with a feature similar to the picture-in-picture option found on some televisions.

"One of our goals with Google TV is to finally open up the living room and enable new innovation from content creators, programmers, developers and advertisers," wrote developer product manager Ambarish Kenghe on a company blog.

"By bringing Google Chrome and access to the entire internet, you can easily navigate to thousands of websites to watch your favourite web videos, play Flash games, view photos, read movie reviews or chat with friends — all on the big screen."

Loaded with apps

The device will come pre-loaded with a number of apps, including Twitter, Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, Pandora and Napster, and will feature optimized websites from The New York Times and USA Today, among others.

The company said apps found in its Android smartphone marketplace will be available for Google TV as of next year.

The device supports Adobe's Flash, so users will be able to "browse the whole web, not just some of it." Android and iPhone owners will also be able to download an app that will turn their smartphones into remote controls for the television. Google TV will support multiple-phone remote control and users will also be able to conduct voice searches. 

The company originally announced the device at a developer conference in May. Google TV is seen as an effort by the search company to extend its core advertising business into the lucrative television area.

Competition for traditional television viewers is heating up among technology companies. Apple recently launched its second attempt at wooing viewers with an updated and slimmed-down version of Apple TV, a device that offers TV episodes and movie rentals.

DVD and online video rental service Netflix also launched service in Canada last month, the popular U.S. company's first international expansion.

Several recent surveys have found a varying level of interest among consumers to cutting their cable and satellite subscriptions in favour of services delivered over the internet, such as Apple TV and Netflix. Most surveys have found, however, that interest is rising.