Comcast killer: Google Fiber touches down in Austin with its new TV and Internet devices

Imagine lightning-quick downloading and uploading of massive files, a veritable smorgasbord of HDTV channels sitting next to your favorite streaming apps, and more cloud storage than you know what to do with — all for a reasonable price. For those lucky enough to live in Austin, Texas, this is no vision from the future, but a very close reality. That’s because this quirky, culture-rich music town is the next stop on the Google Fiber train.

It isn’t a stretch to say that the company is in position to radically transform the way we watch TV.

Digital Trends visited Austin for a hands-on look at its latest upgraded network and Internet TV devices, which are designed to deliver the next generation of home entertainment. And having experienced what Google has developed first-hand, it isn’t a stretch to say that the company is in position to radically transform the way we watch TV. It’s totally awesome, we totally want it, and it’s safe to say Big Cable is in a world of trouble.

Google Fiber’s shockingly fast Internet service steals all the headlines, and that’s understadable. A full Gbps of Internet, which starts at $70/month on a 12-month commitment, boggles the mind in comparison to the 10-15 Mbps Internet that most of us endure. But as Google Fiber’s Head of Product Management Adam Smith puts it, what’s really exciting is what Google can “build on top of the Gig.” Google’s $130 Internet plus TV bundle, which takes the $70 package and adds 120 + channels of sparkling HDTV, sets a new standard for what we should expect from our Internet and TV providers, and is proof that the future of TV lives on the Internet.

Google’s crystal-clear new TV service is built around its Network+ box, an all-in-one delivery device which handles both Fiber Internet, and Google’s new fiber-based IPTV. Imagine your Wi-Fi router, but much, much faster, and with a 2 TB hard drive for up to 500 hours of HD storage, the ability to record up to 8 shows at a time while watching up to 6 others, and the latest dual-band antenna Wi-Fi technology with support up to 802.11 ac. And that’s just the beginning.

The Network+ box is able to offer picture quality that’s better than what you’ll get from other cable and satellite services.

Thanks to Fiber, the Network+ box is able to offer picture quality that’s better than what you’ll get from other cable and satellite services. Since the pipe bringing the TV information in is so huge, less compression is needed. The proof was put before our eyes, as we watched live TV spread across a massive screen in brilliant resolution. Think HDTV that looks more like broadcast HD or Blu-ray disc than what you get from cable or satellite right now. The box also offers a powerful content search engine, as well as what Google calls “smart record,” which can seek out and record the best HD versions of specific shows, as well as content that features a particular actor, or even your favorite sports team.

In addition, users can use their iOS or Android devices to search, control the TV, and watch every channel live. And Android Wear devices will also sport the similar controls. The Network+ box also has basic streaming apps on board, such as Netflix, Vudu, and Youtube, putting your entertainment all in one place.

To get the signal from the Network+ box to your TV, Google has designed separate TV boxes, which use MoCA 2.0 to transfer the Fiber streams via high-speed signal through a Coaxial cable. That allows you to use your home’s existing coax cable system, if you already have it installed, with CAT5 wiring as an alternative to connect each unit to the central Network+ hub. The TV box then hooks up to your TV via HDMI, component or composite video connections. And as a bonus, each box also acts as a Wi-Fi extender, in order to ensure better Wi-Fi performance throughout the home. The $130 package includes 1 free TV box, and users can add up to 5 more at an additional $5 each per month

Google Fiber Austin Event

Finally, Google showed off Fiber’s upgraded remote, which offers low-energy Bluetooth to send signals without the need for line of sight, as well as motion-sensitive backlit buttons. Doesn’t it just make you want to sit down and watch TV right now?

As the service rolls out in the first few “fiberhoods,” South and Southeast Austin residents will be encouraged to sign-up before the deadline, after which Google will roll in and install the service blitzkrieg style, before moving on to the next neighborhood. Though the service just opened up enrollment on Cyber Monday, Google claims that several areas have already reached their required signup goal to get things started. And anecdotally, as you might imagine, several people came into the demo space excited about it, saying things like “Sign me up now,” after a brief look, and “I can’t wait to dump Time Warner Cable!”

So who’s next for Google Fiber once Austin gets hooked up? Google’s not telling … yet.  But if you’re anything like us, you’re crossing your fingers that Google Fiber’s next stop will be in your town.

Smart Home

Array by Hampton brought locks and security lighting to CES 2019

Lock and lighting company Hampton is at CES 2019 with a new line of smart home products. Called Array by Hampton, the lineup includes internet-connected locks, lights, and an app to control them.
Home Theater

Banish the bunny ears (and monthly bills) with these excellent HD antennas

When transitioning away from cable and satellite, finding the best HDTV antenna for your area can be touch. To help, we've compiled our picks of the best indoor HDTV antennas you can buy.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Deals

Take a look at the best 4K television deals for January 2019

There's no doubt that a good 4K smart TV is the best way to take your home entertainment setup to the next level to enjoy all your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. We've got the best 4K TV deals right here.
Music

Tidal faces legal jeopardy over fake stream numbers accusation

In another challenging chapter for music subscription service Tidal, Norwegian authorities have begun a formal investigation into charges that the company faked millions of streams for artists such as Kanye West and Beyoncé.
Home Theater

Need to get rid of an unused Netflix profile? Just follow these simple steps

Need to delete an unwanted profile from your Netflix account? It's easy to do, no matter what kind of equipment you've got. Check out our handy how-to guide for step-by-step instructions.
Home Theater

Sony’s 360 Reality Audio is the epic sound revolution you didn’t know you needed

After Sony’s utterly bizarre press conference, I almost missed what was perhaps the most impactful sonic experience at the show. Luckily, I went back to Sony’s booth on the last day of the show, only to have my mind blown.
Home Theater

The seven best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2019.
Computing

Beam up the videos: AirPlay support is coming to VLC player

At CES 2019, the developers of VLC player announced they are adding support for Apple's Airplay feature, allowing consumers to beam video and other content from their iPhone and Android devices to an Apple TV. 
Home Theater

Not chill: Netflix is hiking prices across all its tiers

Netflix has to get the billions of dollars it's spending on new content from somewhere. The streaming giant announced price hikes across the board, raising its monthly rates between $1 and $2 per tier in the next few months.
Home Theater

Here’s why you’re not getting Netflix in HD or 4K, and how to fix it

Are you having trouble watching your favorite movies or TV shows on Netflix in HD or 4K? We explain why loading takes so long, why the picture quality fluctuates, and what you can do about it.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Home Theater

Polk Audio’s Command Bar joins Alexa’s multiroom music party

Polk's Command Bar is a home theater soundbar with Alexa built in. But with a new update, it can also be grouped with Amazon's Echo products and other third-party speakers for a multi-room experience.
Home Theater

Sling TV offers free shows, a la carte subscription channels to Roku users

If you are among a select group of Roku users, Sling TV has added free TV shows and the option to subscribe to individual channels without having to subscribe to the company's base level of channels.