Sony to implement smart user interface on 2012 Bravia TVs

It's all been about smart TV and networking at Sony's press briefing this morning.

The company's 2012 Bravia tellies will be the first to feature a new graphical user interface (GUI) for the Sony Entertainment Network (SEN).

There'll be a dedicated SEN button on the remote to give instant access to the onscreen menu, which will feature the TV image playing in a window on the left-hand side and all your apps on the right (see image above).

You'll have access to Video Unlimited, Music Unlimited, BBC iPlayer, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, LoveFilm and more.

Your social network feeds can run vertically down the right side of the screen while watching the TV, or run ticker-tape style along the bottom of the screen.

Sony's 2012 Blu-ray players will also get the SEN interface, but it won't be possible to upgrade 2011 TV or BD models to receive it.

Smartphone remote app

In other developments, Sony has further enhanced its smartphone remote app which enables users to 'catch and throw' digital content such as videos, music and photos from a phone or tablet to the TV.

Equally, you can now 'catch and share' web content between a smartphone/tablet and the telly.

There's also a new, bespoke user interface for YouTube with easy search for HD and 3D videos, which will be released this summer.

And the main programme EPG (electronic programme guide) has been given a makeover to pull in richer information from the web. It will be released as a network upgrade this summer, again only for 2012 models.

Google TV

Finally, we got a demo of the forthcoming Google TV set-top box first seen at CES and due for launch in Europe this summer.

It's based on the US version which launched in 2010, but is much smaller, and has a radically different controller, a touchpad which allows you to 'tap, click and pinch', an accelerometer, Qwerty keyboard on the back and a microphone for search voice control.

The microphone version will only come with the more expensive Google TV box with built-in Blu-ray player, not the streaming-only model.

One neat app, called Airtight, brings Apple iOS AirPlay functionality to Google TV.

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Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.