Can Google TV replace cable or satellite?

The future of TV is here.

The arrival of new Google TV and similar services means you can now get movies and programming from the Internet directly onto your TV screen.

So can you cut the cord on your cable or satellite, or is Internet TV still not ready for prime time?

"Geeky way to watch TV"

Chris Cane of West Chester Ohio looks like any TV viewer: Surfing channels and looking for movies from his easy chair. But there's one big difference: Most of his TV is coming in from the Internet, thanks to a Google TV box.

 "Google TV is kinda a geeky way to watch TV. It allows us to connect to the internet and display many channels," said Cane.

What it does

  • Google TV lets you watch many network shows -- legitimately -- thorough Hulu and network websites.
  • Google TV also lets him download movies directly from Netflix, for an $8 monthly fee.
  • You can even listen to thousands of songs, through a service called Pandora.
  • Google TV also lets you organize photos and visit Facebook and other websites.

Can you cut the cord?

But if it does so much, then why does Cane still pay Direct TV a monthly satellite fee? Because in his opinion, Internet TV is not quite ready for prime time.

I asked him "would you recommend Google TV as an an alternate to cable or the dish?"

"No. It's an adjunct. If you were to try to replace your existing cable or direct or satellite TV, there's a lot you are not going to get," he said.

Google TV, and similar services from Apple TV and Roku let you watch some network and cable programs via the Internet, but the keyword is "some".

The downsides

Don't expect much live news coverage on CNN, live sporting events on ESPN or shows like "Dancing with the Stars".

Cane also discovered many popular cable channels are not available. "I can't watch Discovery Channel, History Channel, many of the things I like to get anyway."

And another challenge: Many current network shows are not free, you have to rent them. Costs can add up fast, almost challenging monthly cable bills if you watch a lot.

So while Google TV opens up a new world for Cane, he says he's not giving up his satellite dish -- or, similarly, the cable cord -- anytime soon.

The bottom line

All of these new services are promising, and all have their pros and cons. But if you just like to kick back on the couch and watch TV, there's nothing like the convenience of cable or the dish.

So you may want to stick with the tried and true for a little while longer, and that way you don't waste your money.


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