Logitech, makers of the Harmony remote, just released their GoogleTV box known as the Revue. What’s one to make of this new box in the now crowded field of media boxes such as AppleTV and the Roku?
How does it integrate with the rest of your home theater?
I was pleasantly surprised at how the Revue integrates with the rest of the home theater. By inserting itself between your TV and your cable/satellite box, it can apparently provide some basic functions such as changing the channel without an IR blaster. It also comes with a number of IR ports in the front of the box to control other devices (as well as ports on the back for additional IR blasters). There is deeper integration with DishTV’s DVR making it compelling for folks who have it. If you don’t have a Harmony remote, it essentially provides the same functionality with it’s included keyboard remote except the signals are sent from the Revue box rather than the remote itself.
What differentiates the Revue from other similar devices on the market?
Since it runs GoogleTV, the interface is based around Google’s search box that displays results across all of your different media sources.
The Revue ships with an impressive selection of apps. Netflix, Twitter, Pandora and Amazon On Demand are all included. Best of all, an app store will be rolling out next year that will allow developers to submit their own apps. The sky’s the limit. This will put pressure on Apple to come out with their own app store for AppleTV.
One of the killer apps is Logitech’s media player. This media player will stream content from any DLNA equipped servers on your network. It plays a wide variety of audio and video formats. The entire list is here. The Roku can’t do this out of the box. AppleTV can only stream from iTunes
Also, it’s video conferencing capabilities separates it from most of the other players in this space.
Is this just too complicated?
While I like the Revue for a techie, I don’t think it has mass market appeal. As I have said before, the whole point of television is that it’s easy. I think the whole idea of integrating the web’s fire hydrant of information with TV’s veg-out paradigm is still unproven. I think the success of the Revue and GoogleTV itself hinges on the imagination of what folks could create for the app store. Someone needs to build some fun and compelling apps.
While I think it’s great that the device can stream content from other devices on the network, it’s an extra hoop for folks to have install a DLNA server. It would be great if it could just directly connect to a Windows share or an iTunes library (I know that Apple looks for licensing $$$ for folks to do this).
Is the price point too high?
The Revue costs $299. For that price, you could also purchase a PS3 Slim which would also give you the ability to play games as well as watch blu-ray movies. Also, all of the other competing boxes on the market cost much less: the AppleTV and Roku are a $100 and the Boxee box is at $199.
For $299 you could also get a TiVo Premier which includes the DVR. And all of the competing products I just mentioned all include NetFlix streaming.
Is this the right device for the Audio/Video Aficionado?
Early signs point to no. It only supports up to 720p video not 1080p. It’s unclear which surround formats it supports. Since it uses an optical out to connect to your receiver, it probably can’t support lossless formats such as Dolby TrueHD or DTS Master Audio. We’ll have a better idea when someone gets their hands on it and does a thorough review.
What else can be improved?
It would have been nice if they bundled the mini-keyboard instead of the full sized one.
If Logitech released a version of the box with an integrated DVR, it would be more compelling. For one, it would eliminate a box from your set up and it could provide a more integrated experience.
Remember, this is version 1 of both the Revue and GoogleTV. If you decide to purchase this box, you need to have a high tolerance for problems and patience for work arounds. Yes, there are those of us who take joy in figuring out technical work arounds. The good news is that it will only get better.