Sony Electronics is close to launching the Bravia Smart Stick, an HDMI-connected dongle that will plug into the CE giant’s newer Bravia-branded TV sets and deliver an array of video apps, including Netflix, Vudu and Redbox Instant by Verizon.
As first reported by Engadget on Friday (September 13), Sony briefly announced the product on its blog, then promptly took it down. A Sony spokesman said final details about the Bravia Smart Stick could emerge by Tuesday, and confirmed a report in Variety that the product will sell for $149.99.
A Web-based Bravia Smart Stick user guide is still active, showing that the device will support a Google TV-optimized interface with access to several apps, including YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Video, Vudu, Google’s Play Movies & TV, AOL On, Redbox Instant by Verizon, and Sony’s own Crackle and Video Unlimited services. The new Sony device, compatible only with 2013 and later Sony Bravia TVs, will be coupled with a remote control with a built-in microphone that can perform voice-based searches.
Sony’s new entry will provide some of the same features found in the hot-selling $35 Google Chromecast video streamer but will only work with newer Bravia TVs outfitted with the Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) standard. In addition to supporting a broader array of apps, the new Android-powered Sony dongle product will also support functions that are not found in the cheaper HDMI-connected Chromecast, including an integrated guide and the aforementioned remote control.
The Chromecast and the emerging Google TV-powered Sony Bravia Smart Stick present more competition for Roku, which has developed its own HDMI-connected Streaming Stick, and has is looking to develop tighter integration deals with TV makers.
At last week’s Multichannel News/Broadcasting & Cable Next TV Summit in San Francisco, Roku CEO Anthony Wood said he viewed Google as his company’s “biggest competitor” as both companies pursue their TV strategies.
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