Sony Google TV Root Makes Your Smart TV Smarter

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Do you know what happens when you start to incorporate more sophisticated technologies into TVs? People start to hack them to enable more functionality than the manufacturer ever intended.

The target today is the Sony Google TV with GTVHacker releasing what they call, “The GTVHacker Sony Recovery Downgrader & Rebooter.” You may be asking yourself, "What does this hack do?" Well, it will allow you to “root and run custom unsigned kernels on your Sony Google TV device.”

The cool thing about this hack is that it’s a softmod, which means that it requires no hardware changes to make it run. It only requires four USB flash drives with a minimum of 512MB each.

The hack works by downgrading the television’s OS to an “exploitable version.” This allows the hack to bypass all security in place on the system that blocks third-party modifications to install a bunch of nifty features on the TV.

These features include:

Modified flash plugin with random per box flash string for Content Provider Bypass.

Crippled update feature to prevent box from receiving automatic updates.

Completely RW system, cache, and rootfs partitions

Full ADB Root

Removed signature checks on kernel / init scripts / init binary

A few other surprises.

BETA: Enable NTFS Support for Sony Google TV devices

For those who don’t know what any of that means, you should still be excited. If you bought a Sony Google TV before the new improved models start hitting store shelves, you might have been out of luck for any kind of major improvements to firmware, software and just overall functionality. This new hack puts older Sony Google TVs on par with the new ones and then some.

The benefits mostly come from that new flash functionality that allows it to bypass the blocks Web sites like Hulu put on Google TV access. The NTFS support should also let you stream content off of any NTFS hard drive to your TV. Why that wasn’t a feature from the start is beyond me, but leave it up to hackers to give consumer products the functionality they’ve always deserved.

Once again, we see the benefit that jailbreaking and modding has on technology. It allows users to bypass the limitations imposed by the manufacturer that are only there to make consumers buy the newest product instead of providing that functionality through firmware updates.

Let’s hope Google and Sony don’t try to stomp this out like Apple did for iPhone 4 jailbreakers.

It’s worth noting that these custom firmware mods do have a small chance of bricking your TV so unless you know what you’re doing, I would caution against installing the mod. Even if you install it successfully, you will still void your warranty with Sony.

For those confident enough in your hacking skills, or just following directions, you can find out how to install the root hack at the developer’s wiki.

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