Anyone who has been to CES knows that taking a break to sit down on a comfortable couch is a must. But more then the comfortable couch at the at the Logitech booth was a chance for me to get a demo of the Logitech Revue. Then I found a comfortable couch at the Logitech booth where I had a direct view of the TV demo (Sooo comfortable – especially after walking the exhibit floors at CES).
Most people have heard about the Smart TV concept. Even more have seen the funny Kevin Bacon commercial. It is clear that Smart TV means having access to the Internet on the TV. But what does that really mean? In simple terms Logitech Revue and others are in the class of “media streamers”, streaming content from one device to another. A recent post from Wired discussed the different media streamers. Any HDTV with an HDMI port can be connected to the Internet via an HDMI cable to a PC. But the key is that the Logitech Revue acts an interface so moving from TV to Internet is seemless. Because isn’t it always about the interface?
The Logitech Revue has two parts. The first is the companion box (which has an Intel processor and runs Google TV software on top, WiFi as well as hard wired internet connections). The “input” for the Logitech Revue companion box provides access to the Internet can from Ethernet, Wifi, Cable or Satellite provider box. The Logitech Revue connects to your HDTV through HDMI port. It is not a stand alone box like Roku or Apple TV.
The second part is the controller which is a full size keyboard that has standard text entry, touchpad, integrated remote and set top box controls such as channel up down, controllers for DVR like play stop and pause. The keyboard is automatically paired when turned on. One of the Logitech Revue optional accessories is a mini-controller.
The overall objective behind Google TV is to bring together live TV content with all the content available on the Internet. There are 2 ways that the Logitech Revue brings together TV and Internet content. The first is search, using the Google Search you can find TV programs, anything you record on your DVR or content from your cable or Satellite provider and videos or content on the Internet (articles, news, YouTube).
The first step to set up Logitech Revue is to enter Google account credentials (i.e. email address). Then it will ask for service provider info. Last will be a question on the type of Stereo or other home theater devices in the household. Along with Internet content, the Logitech Revue can also manage home theater devices with the controller (which is a cool feature).
The home screen for Google TV has Bookmarks (websites and channels), Applications, Spotlight, Most Visited, Queue, What’s on, Amazon Video On Demand. For Netflix you just input your login and password.
The keyboard has a search button that is the standard icon (magnifying glass). Then you search for what you want to watch. Google TV can search all the content in your DVR, TV content schedules for US and Internet. The What’s On section compiles info from program guide (alternative to search). It is broken down into categories like movies and sports and organized by TV channel.
Bookmarks: By default there are bookmarks to websites and applications.
Applications: Pre installed web browser is Google Chrome – so you can go to any web page you want. Default apps include CNBC Real-time, Gallery for Picassa, Google Chrome, Logitech Help Assistant and media payer, Logitech Vid HD, Napster, NBA Game time, Netflix, Pandora and Twitter. Google TV is an open platform so developers will be creating even more apps for it.
The Logitech Revue is also a media player that will stream pictures, music and video from PC using DLNA (sharing protocol). If you don’t have a DLNA server you can download the software from sites such as Twonky. If you have a Windows 7 PC you don’t need to download the other program because the Logitech Media player app communicates with Windows Media Player 10. You can also plug in a USB drive into the Revue that has picture, music and videos.
Another feature of the Revue is Logitech Vid HD that allows you to do video calls to anyone that either has a Logitech Revue or a Logitech Vid on their PC. You can call directly to another Logitech Revue user that has TV cam. To use Logitech Vid HD, you need to purchase the Logitech TV cam.
Pandora and Napster allows you to stream music. If you have your music on iTunes you can use the Logitech media player to stream.
There is also a Twitter app developed specifically for the TV experience. For Twitter addicts you an can add Twitter to the home menu and then it automatically gives you all of your tweets.
The Spotlight section has websites that have been developed for the living room experience (with big fonts and easy to navigate). For example HBOGo, TBS, TNT, CNN, PBS Kids and New York Times (etc). Also BlipTV and Vimeo (and Amazon video).
The Queue section is where you view and manage both DVR as well as Podast, Internet.
Along with the Logitech Revue being manufacturer independent so it works with any HDTV with an HDMI port, it also has an app for the iPhone, Android phones and iPad that is similar to the keyboard and a trackpad. It is free to download.
$299.99 Logitech Revue
$199.00 is the Logitech Video Cam