This morning’s unveiling of Google TV was so dense with stuff that needed to be explained that we didn’t hear much about Logitech’s Google TV “companion” box other than that there’d be one, and it’ll ship this fall. But I visited with Logitech after the keynote and got a few more details.
- This isn’t a replacement for your cable box with a tuner and CableCard slots, or anything else too fancy, technically speaking–it’s a black gadget about the size of a thin hardcover book with HDMI in (for your cable connection) and HDMI out (for your TV). There’s also a SPDIF connector, two ports for IR blasters, a couple of USB ports for accessories such as game controllers, Wi-Fi, and an Intel Atom CPU and related electronics. That’s about it. The big benefit here: It’ll work with any entertainment setup you’ve got, as long as you have an HDTV.
- The box incorporates Logitech’s Harmony software, which powers the company’s popular universal remotes. You’ll be able to use an existing Harmony remote, an iPhone or Android app, or future Logitech remotes (including one with a touchpad and QWERTY keyboard) to control the box and all your other living-room devices, such as the TV itself or an AV receiver (the quick demo I got even included the iPhone app controlling a TiVo). The Harmony angle helps to explain why Logitech–a company synonymous with accessories–is making a set-top box.
- The fact the remote will be able to control a TiVo doesn’t mean there’s Google TV-TiVo integration that would let you find a show using Google TV and then record it on the TiVo. Dish’s DVR is the only one which will allow that.
- The box won’t come with a controller–you’ll choose one separately, or use one of the smartphone apps. (Correction: I misunderstood. It will come with a remote, but you’ll be able to opt for one of the other smartphone apps or other Logitech controllers instead.)
- Logitech isn’t talking about a pricetag. I predict $199 or thereabouts…