Sony has officially unveiled the Bravia Smart Stick: a dongle that plugs into TVs to stream apps, websites and media content directly to the screen.
The Smart Stick offers similar functionality to Google’s Chrome Cast but is hardly being positioned as a competitor to the search giant’s dongle. The Smart Stick connects only to Sony TVs from 2013 onwards and at $149.99 is five times the price of Google’s offering.
However, it still might attract customers who have the ready cash and want to buy more wholly into Sony’s ‘media experience’.
The Japanese company are promising that the device’s UI "seamlessly integrates Google and Sony's own BRAVIA apps, allowing viewers to stay in a single menu to launch any of their apps." This means that users won’t have to switch inputs to get to live TV, and that Bravia branded apps that Google lacks (eg Hulu Plus) will be folded into a single experience.
The Smart Stick also comes with its own remote control that includes a built in touch pad and microphone (to allow for voice-controlled Google searches) and functions as a remote for your TV – reducing your controller clutter.
Another handy feature is ‘Picture-and-Picture’ that allows you to split your screen to display both web and TV content. Sony describes it as “Perfect for Fantasy Football, with one screen showing the game and another showing live scoring updates of your fantasy league, it’s also perfect for live tweeting or updating a Facebook status while watching award shows or other televised events and programming.”
In other words, it’s a second screen experience for people too lazy to switch their gaze from TV to smartphone.
Still, despite being five times the price of the Chrome Cast, the Smart Stick might be a compelling choice for confirmed Sony fans. Unfortunately there’s no word on a UK launch, although it’s already on sale in the US.