TV meets the web. That’s the basic concept of Google TV – the platform powering the seemingly trivial black box that is the Logitech Revue. T3's Jeppe Christensen has played around with the box for a few weeks and here's his verdict.
Logitech Revue will piggyback on your cable- or satellite box and work as a link between the magical world of the Internet and your telly. It tries to integrate video from the web with your local TV programming, and lets you access content from a variety of sources. There’s even a built-in Chrome web browser that, in theory, will let you access and consume all and everything that’s on the Internet.
This makes for a much more powerful device than, let’s say, Apple TV or your average media streamer. The problem is that with flexibility and possibility comes complexity, and Google TV is too cumbersome to work well as a central part of the entertainment system in your living room.
Logitech Revue: Set-up
For starters you have to go through a lengthy 12-step set-up to actually use Logitech Revue, and while the average techie won’t have any problems working through the technicalities, it’s not exactly something we see regular consumers embracing.
There’s also the fact that you need to control the Revue box with an actual keyboard. It’s thin and well designed but it’s still… a keyboard! That alone is enough to turn off most people. Logitech does offer a more compact controller with a design derived from the Logitech diNovo Mini but it’ll set you back an additional £80. If you want to clean up your coffee table, you can try using one of the free apps for iPhone or Android that turns your smartphone into a remote for Google TV.
The basic idea is that Google TV runs on top of everything related to your TV experience. Want to find something to watch? Hit the search button on the keyboard and your can search both the web and on online streaming sites as well as your regular channel guide. Unfortunately, it quickly ends up feeling very frustrating. You only get a few selected results and they are usually not the right ones. Often you have to launch the painfully slow Chrome web browser to find what you want to watch. The problem is most websites aren’t suitable for browsing from a distance on a HD screen, and much of the web video out there still looks pixelated when running full screen on a 40- or 50-inch TV.
Logitech Revue: Features
Logitech Revue can change channels on your cable- or satellite box but that’s about it. It can’t search in your recorded shows (unless you have a box from Dish Network), or record a show for you. More often, you just want to get rid of the keyboard and use your regular remote to do more advanced things with your set-top box which kind of defeats the purpose of Google TV.
Built-in are a couple of apps like Netflix and Pandora Radio but you can’t download new apps – not yet. Google won’t enable Android Market for Google TV until sometime late in 2011. If you pay $150 for a camera you can make free video calls. It works really well and is easy to use but currently only works with other Revue units.
The underlying concept of Google TV is great. The integration of web video, regular TV and being able to access websites from the comfort of your couch is spot on. Unfortunately, right now it’s easier, faster and more comfortable to sit with a notebook, an iPad or a smartphone and find the information you’re looking for than launch the web browser on Logitech Revue. And if you really want web video on your TV, a dedicated computer like Apple’s Mac Mini works so much better.
Google TV is a typical 1.0 product and needs massive improvement to become relevant for the average user. Right now it’s still way too rough around the edges, even for most geeks and gadget freaks. Let’s just say we’re waiting impatiently for the 2.0 release and we’ll bring you a full review, including a star rating then.
Logitech Revue launch date: Early 2011, link Logitech
Logitech Revue price: $299