Yesterday, Logitech formally introduced the first Google TV product in form of their “Revue” television companion box. I think we have a decent handle on basic Google’s initial TV functionality – in terms of web search, video, and apps. But Logitech has layered on some additional functionality, which is compelling… and potentially confusing.
However, we here at ZNF roll geekier than most. IR blasters may not be the most efficient technology, yet they don’t scare us. And while we may be surprised by Logitech’s $300 price tag, it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker… if Revue delivers something both unique and powerful. Until we see a Google TV with native DVR capabilities, Logitech’s video pass-thru and Harmony-esque remote control capabilities do indeed seem promising.
Instead of merely adding another box to the mix, the Revue actually controls our other boxes (via integrated IR transmitter or additional external IR blaster) and relays video (via HDMI input). So while set-up may be a bit more complex, the end result appears to be a bit more of an integrated home entertainment experience. The tightest integration thus far is specific to DISH Network set-top boxes that extends search across one’s program guide, recorded shows, and DISH VOD:
No IR blaster required for set-up with DISH Network. Simply connect the Logitech Revue Companion Box and your DISH receiver to your home network. With a wireless home network, just connect the Revue box to the network and use a single Ethernet cable between the Revue box and the DISH receiver to provide Internet connectivity to both devices.
Bundled with the Revue is a very nice looking, slim wireless keyboard, with integrated touchpad. However, that’s it — there’s no traditional remote control included. And there isn’t even an optional remote accessory, at least not at launch. Yet Android and iPhone smartphone users will have access to a free Harmony app for full-on (and more compact) control.
Speaking of accessories, Logitech is also leveraging their extensive video camera experience to bring conferencing/chat capabilities to the Google TV platform by way of a $150 camera. It seems a bit pricey, but I assume you need beefed up hardware to properly capture audio and video from across a living room – as opposed to sitting inches away from a typical computer-based webcam. It’s not my thing and, given the number of iPhone 4s saturating the marketplace with Facetime, I wonder if others will want to join into Logitech’s “Vid” network. But it’s a nice value-add for Logitech.
So we’ve got a lot to chew on here. And I’m not convinced we’ll have all the answers until Revue units start arriving. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on one towards the end of the month, but Mari‘s a bit more skeptical. From our informal email exchange, which she didn’t realize I’d be quoting, shortly after Logitech’s presentation:
Looks fun, but not sure it’s useful.
Click to enlarge: