Hands-on the Logitech Revue Google TV box – Is it worth it?

At CTIA SF 2010 Logitech announced their Revue, their Google TV set-top box that seamlessly gives you an experience like never before. But, just like with smartphones, there’s a catch. You’ll need to use a specific TV provider, and the price isn’t exactly negligible. In exchange for those compromises, you’ll get Google TV on your existing TV and home theater system. But, is the Logitech Revue worth it? Read on to find out.

Google has quite a few partners with their new TV service, and Logitech is first up to bat. The Logitech Revue is one of the simplest ways to get Google TV, as long as you have a HDMI port on your current HDTV. The Revue comes with the Harmony Link, which will allow a user to connect to their entire home theater system without having to worry about switching between inputs when they want to surf the web or when they’re viewing a video on their DVR. The Revue takes all the work out of it.

Upon first launch of Google TV, you’ll be greeted with a simple UI with a list of options on your left like What’s on, bookmarks, YouTube Channel, applications, and of course, TV. The heart of Google TV is Google search, and searching for anything via the search box will pull relevant content from TV, the Web, DVR content (if applicable), or your own personal content from your PC, as long as it’s been given the OK. As with most TV services, Google TV supports a picture in picture mode, but it’s not limited to just another channel. You can watch a cooking show on picture in picture mode while you surf the web to look up the recipe as you’re going along. You can also bookmark webpages, applications, your favorite channel, making it easier to gain access to what matters to you most.

Gerald Quindlen, Logitech President, said that the Revue is, “Just the beginning of this platform and what Logitech intends to do with it. ” Which to some, may sounds like the platform as a whole needs to cook a little longer, and in some aspects, that would be right. While Google TV is nice on its own, the Android enthusiasts who want to use applications on their TV will have to wait until early next year. But the Revue does come with a handful of applications pre-installed. CNBC, Netflix, Napster,Pandora, NBA Game Time, as well as some Logitech applications just to name a few.

The demos provided were very impressive, especially when it came to their smartphone application. The application, which will support Android and iPhone, will allow user to speak their searches right from the phone and have them show up to their TV in an instant. Also, with just one tap of a button, you can turn off your TV, DVR, and Logitech Revue box right from the application itself. Perhaps the most impressive feature, however, was that when watching a YouTube video on your Android phone, you can easily hit Menu, and hit share to your Revue. Once you do that, even if everything is turned off, the Revue will turn your everything on, launch the URL of the YouTube video, and begin playing. Seamless.

How do you navigate Google TV? Well, it’s a mish-mash of a keyboard that mated with a remote control. The controller is large, but not necessarily cumbersome to use. It comes with a touchpad, a D-Pad, the standard Android buttons, and device controls across all of your entertainment equipment. With just one remote, you can turn on your TV, DVR, Set top box, and adjust the volume from your external speakers. If you already own a Logitech Harmony remote, it’s also compatible with the Revue. One remote for all your devices, one box to rule them all.

Logitech also announced some accessories that will be available for the Revue. There will be a HD video camera that captures 720p video, had two high quality microphones, and autofocus. Video conferencing never looked so clear, and the notification just pops up on your screen. If you miss a call while you’ve been gone, the web cam has a notification light to tell you there’s a missed call without turning anything on There will also be indoor and outdoor security cameras that you can monitor your house. On top of that, there will be a mini, hand-held controller for those who don’t want to use the larger controller all of the time. It’s backlit so you can see it in the dark, and it just looks better overall in my opinion.

The Logitech Revue will run you $300, and comes with the large keyboard. The mini hand-held remote will launch later on, for $130, and the HD video camera will be $150. The security cameras will also launch later, with the indoor unit coming in a $249, and the outdoor unit at $349. In order to be able to search through your DVR content, you must have Dish Network, who will be offering the Revue for $179.

So is Google TV worth it? We’ll have to wait to find out, but it looks like it may be great in the future, but I’ll be holding off for a while. Hopefully we’ll see the Android Market soon, and I may start watching TV again. The Logitech Revue is up for pre-order right now online, and will hit the shelves in before the end of the month.

  • Kermonk

    “But, just like with smartphones, there’s a catch. You’ll need to use a specific TV provider, and the price isn’t exactly negligible. ”

    Bullshit. It works with all providers.

    • blake

      You’re right. Sorry about that. To get the best experience out of Google TV, you’ll need to have Dish Network if you want to be able to search your DVR. Otherwise, it’s not happening.

  • Dizzle

    “So is Google TV worth it? We’ll have to wait to find out,”

    Man this article was so conclusive and top notch.

    • blake

      Conclusive? We weren’t necessarily trying to come to a solid conclusion. Google TV looks like a great experience when you see it demoed, but who’s to say that someone would utilize it once they get it? This may be great for early adopters, and I’d like to see it implemented elsewhere. The Logitech Revue is the first of many devices that Google TV will bring. Google TV itself may be worth it, but it might not be to someone when they see the pricing of the Logitech Revue. Google TV needs to mature, and that won’t even begin to happen until next year. I will refrain from giving conclusions until one is ready to be made.

  • Anonymous

    Since I am an employee at DISH Network, I was lucky enough to see the Revue before it was announced to the public. The day it was available for pre-order I put my order. I have not been disappointed with it at all. I am a huge Nuggets fan and I prefer the NBA Game Time app on the Revue over the one I have on my phone. With all this Carmelo drama going on it is nice to be able to pull up the NBA News from the app while continuing to watch the game.

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