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Google TV: Android set-top box set for CES 2014 launch?

It was only a matter of time before Google's Android platform joined the television rumour game. However, unlike Apple's iOS before it, the recent batch of reports surrounding the search giant don't have Google making a physical television set of its own.

No, it's just a set-top box that we're all postulating about. At least, that's the rumour that's been thrown out by the brand-new tech news website The Information, which suggests that said set-top box — based on Android — will likely be available for purchase from Google in the first half of next year.

The device is said to be able to handle a number of different streaming services – think Hulu Plus, Netflix, YouTube (obviously), et cetera — and give a purchaser living room access to some gaming as well. As for just how powerful the set-top box will be, gaming-wise, we don't know just yet.

The news echoes previous rumours from the Wall Street Journal months ago, which mentioned at the time that Google was also planning to stick a video camera and motion sensor into the set-top box — presumably, to make Google Hangouts just that much easier (and to throw the gauntlet down to rival Skype, which currently enjoys living room success as the de facto communication service on Microsoft's Xbox gaming consoles).

The latest batch of rumours don't explicitly call out this motion sensor by name, which gives us pause to wonder whether Google has rethought that part of the device.

The rumoured purchasing window dovetails nicely with additional news that Google is planning a big Google TV announcement at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Additionally, it comes right as Amazon is allegedly making its own set-top box, likely for release in 2014 as well.

As for whether the Google set-top box will be unveiled at CES, we're not sure. We're also not certain what one might call it, but it's been reported that Google will be rebranding this web-friendly set-top box as "Nexus TV," an update from previous rumours that had Google calling the device "Android TV."

Were we to bet, however, we'd lay down a little bit of cash that Google is likely to announce updates to the core Android OS that powers Google TV on the various devices the smart TV service lives. It took the company quite a bit of time to get its Android 4.2.2 update for some of the Google TV products previously stuck on Android version 3.2 of the OS (that's Jelly bean versus Honeycomb, for those that prefer tastier names). Theoretically, the move the Jelly Bean now allows Google to upgrade Google TV even quicker – could a quick jump to KitKat be on the horizon as well?

While that might not please those looking for a fancy first look at Google's ambitions for the living room, it's would at least be throwing a bone to those who backed Google's other TV initiative.