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Major Google TV Feature Lags Behind Apple TV, Roku

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Like most products coming out of Mountain View, Google TV aims to change the way you perform a particular task -- in this case, obviously, watching TV. Infusing live television with web searches, streaming video, and scores of apps, Google TV could literally be the Future of Television once all the kinks are ironed out.

However, one hitch in the get-along is keeping one aspect of Google's new product from matching the likes of Apple TV and Roku. Not Sony's abomination of a controller. This is actually a major selling point for the service.

Steadily creeping into almost every device linked to a TV and many mobile devices, Netflix's "Watch Instantly" feature has become as necessary for a media player as HD and external drive support. With unlimited views for a flat monthly fee, it's replaced TiVo and rivaled Hulu as a consumer entertainment godsend. Apple TV has it, Roku has it, and Google TV has it. But only one of these systems is hamstrung with a barebones interface.

GigaOM's Janko Roettgers compared the three systems and the features available within the Netflix app. As seen in the video below, Apple TV completely revamped the design to fit its own -- not uncommon for Cupertino -- and created a very intuitive interface that jibes with the rest of the menu screens. Roku, having based its business around Netflix and Amazon On-Demand, has seen a few incarnations and improvements with the Netflix app, leaving a generally solid app in its current form.

Google TV, on the other hand, is launching with a sorry excuse for the Netflix feature.

Search, recommendations, and new releases are stripped away -- merely leaving the user's Instant Queue which can only be adjusted and updated from a computer. Yes, for all its whiz-bang capabilities, you can't simply add a new movie to your Netflix queue from the Google TV.

Roettgers spoke with representatives from Google and Netflix who assured him that updates to the Google TV Netflix app will be rolled out at some point in the future, but for the time being, when launching a potentially industry-redefining product, you better have all its selling points in tip-top shape.
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