By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 4:18 pm
After I attended Cisco’s unveiling of its ūmi telepresence system this morning, I hopped in a cab and went to Logitech’s launch event for Revue, its Google TV box. It made for a fascinating comparison.
Cisco’s product, like Apple TV and Roku, is about doing one thing. All there devices compete with Revue, because it does many things:
Whew. (I’m probably forgetting a capability or two.) Revue costs $299.99, which is 3X the price of Apple TV and 5X the cost of the cheapest Roku, but it does so many things that I think the price isn’t nutty–if it turns out that the many things it does are things people want to do on their TVs. (That’s not a given: In many ways, Revue is a modern take on the idea Microsoft tried to popularize as WebTV a decade and a half ago, and which has fizzled in one form or another ever since. I’m still unclear whether there’s a critical mass of real consumers who want to use the Web on their TVs.)
Revue’s pricetag is also explained in part by its remote control–which, from what I’ve seen so far, is one of my favorite things about the box so far. It’s a wireless, notebook-like keyboard with no-compromises QWERTY. After having experienced a couple of gazillion TV devices that force you to enter text using painful on-screen keyboards, I’m really happy to see Logitech give you the input device you really want as part of the package. (It’s also selling an optional mini-QWERTY keyboard.)
Logitech is releasing a Swiss Army Knife of a product into a market otherwise mostly populated by less versatile kitchen knives. (In the case of Apple TV, which doesn’t yet have a full slate of TV episodes and movies, its sort of a kitchen knife which can only slice cetain kinds of vegetables.) I’m reserving judgment until I get hands-on time with with one, but I like the fact that Revue is so very far from being an Apple TV wannabee–it’s a choice, not an echo, and it’s going to be fun to see which type of Internet TV box consumers gravitate towards. (And of course it’s still not clear whether teeming masses of them will gravitate towards any TV box at all.)
Logitech and Amazon are taking orders for Revue starting today; it’ll show up in stores in two or three weeks. Check out more details on Google TV, including a peek at the interface, at Google’s site.