FREMONT, CALIF. —
A recent evaluation of Logitech’s set-top box for Google TV called the Revue showed the device to be among the easiest on the market for IPTV connectivity, and its optional video conferencing add-on should give the system a wow factor through the holidays.
Like Sony, which is bringing Google’s much-hyped new platform to select integrated Bravia Internet TVs, Logitech’s Revue set-top device — on sale at Best Buy starting at a $299 suggested retail — is offering customers who have already made TV purchases the opportunity to add Internet access without the price of a new TV.
Our recent run through of the device proved the system’s user-friendly nature, and flexible open Internet capability.
Like most other IPTV set-top systems, the Revue for Google TV offers a range of service apps for Netflix, YouTube, and others, but includes a Google Chrome browser that enables browsing the open Internet for a virtually limitless selection of favorite Web sites. Like a PC, it will playback Flash-enabled streaming video and audio content on the TV. That means users may access TV and video services available to PCs that have not been blocked to Google’s browser.
The main access device for the system is a very slicklooking full-size wireless keyboard that is thin, light and highly responsive.
To activate an onscreen cursor while browsing, the keyboard offers a trackpad with the ability to do twofinger scrolling.
Upon set up, the system prompts the user for the make and model of each connected component in the A/V system. This empowers the keyboard to serve as a Harmony-style remote to operate various system components connected to the Revue, but with a more limited experience than one of Logitech’s Harmony remotes would offer. Users can also control the system via Logitech’s smartphone app, which has just launched from the Logitech website for iPhone and Android devices.
The set-top box is a thin, flat and rounded pad-like device with audio out, Ethernet port, two USB ports, HDMI in and out, a Bluetooth pairing button and two optional IR blaster ports to reach out-of-the-way components. The box is powered by a 1.2GHz Intel CE4100 Atombased processor, 1GB of RAM, and 5GB of storage. For Wi-Fi connections, the unit has a built-in 802.11n sender/receiver.
No additional HDMI ports are required on the TV since the Revue is designed to daisy chain with a cable or satellite box and the TV. The unit’s software will integrate content offered by the provider under live TV along with the ability to access an integrated DVR via the Harmony control codes.
Dish Network is said to offer a smoother integration between select Dish DVRs and the Revue, and offers the system for a special $179 fee, plus a $4 per month integration fee. However, the system works reasonably well with DirecTV and other services, too.
Making video calls is one of the hottest capabilities of the device, enabling the family to place a video call to friends and family from the sofa. To make calls from the Revue, users will need to add an optional $149 TV Cam, which sits on top of the display, and offers up to 720p resolution.
Using a large TV screen makes video calls more practical for family conversations than a PC webcam, though buying setups for both ends of a call can be a price proposition.
The Revue will also connect to other PCs in the home to playback a variety of stored file formats, including MKV, DivX, and MOV files, as well as music and image files.