Roku? Boxee Box? Apple TV? A cornucopia of devices to choose from--and a little help from your friends

Jim O'NeillDespite the fact that stores around here started putting up Christmas decorations a week BEFORE Halloween, this week really kicks off the holiday season and all that comes with it. Like Black Friday, when all we normally (OK, marginally) responsible types lose all semblance of sensibility and start giving out our credit cards at checkouts like politicians giving out campaign promises a week before Election Day.

And I can't give you any advice as to how to stay within your budget. Honestly, I can't, because I'll spend the next few weeks trying to make sure that when I'm really old and infirm my sons will feel like they owe it to me to take care of me. So, within the first three days of shopping I'll stuff my wallet with receipts like said politicians add pork-barrel projects to new spending bill.

But I can talk turkey about the over-the-top options/content hubs that are currently available. Check out this Black Friday shopping guide for the devices that will make you the most admired person on your block, the Master of the OTT Universe.

I'm including Google TV, even though the consensus is that it's not really of the same genus as say, Roku or Boxee, or even Apple TV, in that it's best integrated with a cable, satellite or IPTV service like AT&T U-verse.

The reason I'm including it is because I want to ask you your opinion: Is it--in the spirit of the season--the biggest turkey of the year? Is it an example of a really good idea with really bad execution?

Or, is there hope for Google TV, and its partners, Intel, Sony and Logitech?

The Wall Street Journal's David Pogue and Walt Mossberg panned it, saying, essentially that it made a lot of promises, but has failed to keep them, or even come close. As Mossberg said: "Google TV is trying to do a lot, which is admirable, but doesn't quite pull it off in a way that's easy or understandable or fluid, and it doesn't actually fulfill all its promises."

It doesn't help that every one of the major networks, and a couple of the smaller ones, have blocked their content from appearing on the Google TV platform, and there doesn't seem to be a solution in sight. Buy, hey, what's a challenge but another opportunity, right?

So, as an early Christmas gift to me, let me know what you think. Google TV: Turkey? Or a gift?

I'm going to go and grab some early-season eggnog. Have a great Thanksgiving. -Jim

Black Friday's coming... check out this buyers guide for streaming players and devices