Logitech Revue: A Swiss-Army Approach to Internet TV

By  |  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:

  • Like Roku and Apple TV, it’s a way to watch movies and listen to music;
  • It supports not only services Google has partnered with, such as Netflix and Amazon Video on Demand, but just about any video on the Web;
  • It attempts to meld Internet video, live broadcast video, and DVR video into one seamless entertainment extravaganza;
  • It integrates with Dish Network boxes at a deeper level–it can control them and search recorded videos;
  • It lets you browse Web sorts of all sorts using the built-in Chrome browser;
  • It uses Logitech’s Harmony technology to let you control all your living-room gizmos;
  • It offers iOS and Android apps that let you use your smartphone as a remote control;
  • If you spend $150 for an optional Webcam, it provides ūmi-like HD videoconferencing (although at 720p rather than Cisco’s 1080p);
  • It’ll let you download and install Android apps (but not until early 2011, when Google makes its TV Android Market available).

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.


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14 Comments For This Post

  1. Jared The Geek Says:

    But its a box to control a box. I have an HTPC that cost that much and an HDHomerun for channel tuning. With the HDHomerun Prime coming with cable card support the Google TV seems pointless. Grab a Win 7 computer and have it auto boot up Media Center, add the tuners and bam! You can do everything and more with the Media Center system.

  2. Fred Says:

    No offense, but you're not normal. It remains to be seen whether normal people will want this box, but they certainly don't want an HTPC.

  3. @klandwehr Says:

    Although, I think the Revue looks cool and I would like all the bells and whistle, I don't think it's going to pass the spouse'll test

  4. Stilgar Says:

    Too expensive. At 300 dollars, this has zero appeal to the mainstream, and the early adopters have already solved all of the same problems by other means.

  5. Pat Says:

    Agree with your comment, although I think it has appeal to the mainstream if it were more cost effective and really high quality like Nefsis. Time will tell as to how the public will receive the high-cost idea as opposed to the high-quality products.

  6. Paolo Says:

    The World was demanding moblie device… this is another shot in an empty universe.

  7. Damon Wells Says:

    Wow. I just love to hear about Logitech Revue. One of the good sources of info about Logitech Revue is
    Logitech Revue Live News Updates
    which gives all real-time updates from yahoo, google, bing, Icerocket, Techmeme, twitter n don't know what others but its good site to get current updates from single place. A must visit.

  8. jlee Says:

    I think this is a great looking box, and I'm very interested to hear someone give it a try. Contrary to the comments seen here there are plenty of tech people who want this degree of clean-cut control in a single box without having to jerry-rig a setup. I'm glad someone is trying a fresh angle on the TV box. Roku and Apple TV certainly are immature one-use tools waiting for popular content providers to get on board …eventually. I think this logitech box is ideal for today's current transition from TV to Internet since no one else can truly provide the unique content available for both mediums. BUT because this is a new tool no one is accustom to using the $300 price tag will likely halt any push to success. To drive the masses to this box they will need to do what tivo did… offer cheap or free boxes to the masses to build a reputation for this new tool. (Though tivo sold more of a service than a hardware.) Someone who can bring me ALL Internet video content to my tv NOW would be great. Yet it would have to be one fine tuned and intuitive device to make me give up my tivo setup. AppleTV and Roku are nice unobtrusive cheap TV add-ons. This Revue box is asking for a change of habits and a real commitment at $300. Hope this box is up to the challenge.

  9. Khaled Says:

    Google Chose the Right Partner Logitech with Consumer Experience devices and accessories with Already TV Harmony remotes & Media Wireless keyboards, HD Webcams, Wi-FI Audio line-ups

    what most people don't Know that Logitech is going big after the Enterprise, Yes beyond Consumer to the Business space by Acquiring several companies in the last 12 months including LifeSize Communication Professional Business Telepresence / Video conferencing Infrastructure, Software , Net gear and accessories for the space for over $400M

    So Logitech combining it's expertise in the Consumer Space and its new LifeSize Division for the Enterprise to come up with Google TV Video Calling Experience.

  10. dholyer Says:

    Last Thursday, being a Dish user I was sent a e-mail notice that I could pre-order the Google TV from them (as they are a partner) for a savings of $120. The Google TV device will hook between my Dish 722k and my HDTTV. it will also arttach to my Broadband DSL Internet connection and let me surf the Web via my TV with the Google Chrome web browser.

    I have no idea when Android apps will be enabled. But they expect to have a delivery date of mid November. I'd love to order one but I think Christmas shopping is a bit more important.

  11. dholyer Says:

    And by the way a Dish 722k is a dual HD satellite tuner with local HD over the air broadcast channels input and then connects to your HDTV via HDMI, Component, or RF. And can record any channel to it's half a Terabyte hard drive for later viewing in 1080i via HDMI or RF channels 14 to 69. You select which channel to use. Then if you have a second non HDTV you can use the composite or RF to watch on an old 720×480 TV or record it to your VCR or DVR device.

    I use mine to watch HD on my 40" HDTV and record that which I wish to keep on my Panasonic DVD recorder after I edit the video on it's hard disk storage drive.

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  13. james Says:

    this is stupid. i just connect my laptop to my tv and use a wireless keyboard and mouse. better, simpler, cheaper

  14. fettman24 Says:

    Love the Logitech Revue, I no longer have to swap inputs or move my laptop to surf the internet, it's at my fingertips at all times. Also being able to watch picture in picture with the internet and TV at the same time is genius. As a DISH employee I have been able to get hands on with the box for a while now and I was excited when I got my own.