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Today’s Show:

 

Logitech Revue and Google TV

We have talked in the past about the various options for streaming content to your TV and Google TV always emerges as one of those options.  In fact, we’re on record as saying that Google TV may even revolutionize the consumer electronics industry by becoming the base operating system TVs and Blu-ray players are built on.  When we got the opportunity to review the Logitech Revue, we jumped at the chance.

What is Google TV

Google TV literally combines a search engine with your TV. Google TV lets you search across every channel,  application, and the Internet to find exactly what you are looking for. It combines the power of applications like Pandora, Twitter, Netflix, and many others with the Internet to enhance how you watch TV. You can create a custom homepage  that gives you access to your favorite apps, channels, and websites. You can easily switch between the web and TV or even combine the two with picture in picture. It takes the concept of Internet connected TVs to the next level by integrating the experience.

About the Revue

The Logitech Revue is a small box you connect to your TV via HDMI.  In many ways it is quite similar to the other streaming options out there like the Apple TV, Roku and Boxee Box.  With a retail price of $299 (buy now), it is a bit more expensive than the competition, so you’d assume it comes with a few extras to differentiate itself.  And it does, but we’ll get into those later.  We’ll leave it up to you to decide if the extras are worth the cost.

Setup and Use

In addition to the HDMI output that you connect to your TV, the Revue has an HDMI input as well.  This allows you to plug in your TV source directly to the Revue so Google TV can interact with live television.  That’s differentiator number one.  The competition devices stream content to your TV, the Review does that and can interact with your live TV content.  You can pull up a browser right on top of the TV program to do an IMDB search without having to switch boxes.

If you happen to be a Dish Network subscriber, the integration goes even further.  This is where you really start to see the power of what Google TV will offer as the solution matures.  The Revue has the ability to connect to your Dish DVR and access all of your recorded programs.  It can also see what’s available for On Demand or Pay Per View viewing.  So when you do a search on the Google TV for something to watch, not only do you get online content, but you get your own local content as well.  It’s awesome.  It really gives you one interface for all of your entertainment options.

So we’ve mentioned you can do full browser searches and can search your media content with the Revue.  That sounds like something that would be difficult with a standard remote control.  Differentiator number two, the Revue comes with a full keyboard controller with built-in touch pad.  It’s a bit large, but it has buttons for media control like a remote would, has a full keyboard to make typing a breeze and even a touch pad to allow you mouse around to wherever you want to go.  You get hooked on using it pretty quickly.  We sure did.

And of course, it’s from Logitech so you expect some sort of Harmony style universal control.  That brings us to differentiator number three.  The Revue actually uses HDMI CEC the way it was intended to be used.  It allows you to turn your TV on and off and adjust volume.  It will change channels on your video source.  If you have a receiver for surround sound, you can plug it into the Revue instead of plugging your TV source directly and control it as well.  Finally a good use of HDMI CEC to actually control all your home theater devices.

Of course the Revue allows you to get access to all the usual online suspects: Netflix, NBA.TV, Pandora, Twitter, Amazon OnDemand.  It’s all in there.  It also has a built-in DLNA player so you can stream all of your backed-up movies to it.  We’ve heard the CODEC support is limited, but we use mostly mpeg4 video variants and it played all of them just fine.  Word on the street is that Google is going to open app development to the masses in the near future.  This could be where things really take off.

And, of course, as a Google based product you can imagine there’s an Android app to control it.  This isn’t really a differentiator, but the app is pretty cool.  It connects to the Revue via WiFi and lets you do just about anything the keyboard allows, albeit not quite as easily.  But it is convenient to have that controller in the palm of your hand for a quite adjustment or something.  We’re expecting this integration between Android and Google TV to grow in the future and perhaps become more of a differentiator.  Would be nice if you could watch whatever was playing on the Revue on your Android phone anywhere in the world.

Conclusion

We had a ton of fun playing with the Revue and Google TV.  While it does carry a hefty price tag, it has a few bells and whistles that set it apart from the competition.  And we see tremendous opportunity for innovation in this platform.  If you’re a Dish network subscriber, you’ll love it.  If you aren’t, the Revue might make you want to sign up with Dish just to get the integrated content all in one place.

Breaking news, Nov 10. 2010:

DISH Network’s Google TV solution, which requires a DVR integration service of $4 per month, includes the Logitech Revue with Google TV, a small set-top box available for a special price of $179 (MSRP $299) – an exclusive deal for DISH Network customers. The Google TV experience is compatible with DISH Network ViP series HD DVR satellite TV receivers including the ViP 622, ViP 722 and ViP 722k.  

 

Download Episode #452


Posted by The HT Guys, November 11, 2010 10:38 PM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.