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Google Tinkers with TV Search Using Custom Set-Top Box

Digital television can get a little overwhelming. When you have 700 channels to flip through and two well-worn arrow buttons on a remote to do it with, sometimes you’re just left wishing you could do a Google search for the good stuff.

If Google gets its way, you may sometime soon.

On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Google has been testing its own set-top box, which combines Web-based video from sites like YouTube with Dish Network content, making them all searchable from the couch.

According to “people familiar with the matter,” the set-top box has been in trial with select Google employees and their family members since last year. Besides allowing users to find what they want in a sprawling video ecosystem, it allows them to personalize their own TV lineups for viewing.

Potentially, a set-top box would boost traffic to YouTube, which already serves up 1.2 billion videos per day, and allow Google to collect more ad revenue through Google TV Ads.

As for the actual hardware, apparently the box uses a dedicated keyboard rather than a remote for search, and most likely runs a variant of Google Android, which Google CEO Eric Schmidt himself said would be appropriate for set-top boxes back in January.

Looking to get your own? Google hasn’t offered any hints on when – or if – its set-top box will ever go public, but TiVo has already made a step in the same direction with its new Premiere DVR, which combines access to online video like YouTube with traditional cable programming.

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