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.)