More recently we have seen TVs with built-in support for specific online services, but that can cause discontent if only Brand X is supported but a potential or actual owner favours Brand Y.
Building a standards-based and extendible browser such as Chrome into a modern flat-screen TV has the potential to get around these issues. You can use virtually any web site, or playback practically any kind of digital media.
It seems quite possible - perhaps even probable - that Google TV was the motivation for building Adobe's Flash into recent builds of Chrome, a move that caused disquiet in some circles.
Google TV's not just about web content - please read on.
Furthermore, Google has plans to change the way we control the TV: "already know the channel or program you want to watch? Just type in the name and you're there. Want to check out that funny YouTube video on your 48in flat screen? It's just a quick search away. If you know what you want to watch, but you're not sure where to find it, just type in what you're looking for and Google TV will help you find it on the web or on one of your many TV channels," said Salahuddin Choudhary, Google TV product manager.
All Google TV devices will include a QWERTY keyboard.
Google TV will also support browsing standard program guides and DVRs, and the Google TV home screen "provides quick access to all of your favorite entertainment so you're always within reach of the content you love most," said Choudhary.
A demo of Google TV at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco was not flawless, and it seems that at least part of the company's motivation is to be able to deliver targeted TV ads.
The first Google TV powered TVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes will come from Sony (the platform is "a very big deal" according to Sony chief executive Howard Stringer) and Logitech.
The devices will be powered by Intel Atom chips, and they are expected to go on sale in the US in three to six months time; during 2011 in other markets.