Logitech Revue Review – 9 things you need to know before you buy it
The Logitech Revue is the first Set Top Box (STB) to feature the wonderful new Google TV.
But does it work as well as the hype suggests it does? Can you really install Android apps from the Android marketplace on your TV, and can you control your TV with your Android phone?
More importantly, will Google TV transform TV as we know it, and is the Logitech Revue worth the $299 it’ll cost when launched?
We decided to find out!
What’s inside the box?
The Logitech Revue comes with a small Set Top Box and a giant controller!
The Revue controller
The controller has a fuill size QWERTY keyboard, trackpad in the top right corner and a plethora of buttons for one-touch access to Google TV’s main features (buttons such as Search, Home, Favourite, and a few navigation buttons as well!).
Because the controller controls all other STBs in your house (see below), there are also buttons to switch them and your TV on and off.
There are also buttons for switching instantly to TV, for calling up your Electronic Programme Guide with one touch, and for going directly to your DVR to see all the programmes you’ve recorded.
Naturally you can also control the usual TV features, such as volume, and also change channel up and down, which is perfect if you’re a channel surfer. There are even dedicated buttons to control your recorded programmes, including fast-forward, rewind, record and pause.
The Revue Set Top Box
The Set Top Box, meanwhile, looks like any other STB – it’s small, sleek and black with a minimal numbre of lights on the front. All the important action takes place round the back.
Here you’ll find the ports that connect the Revue to all of the important things in your home entertainment setup. The Revue comes with the following:
- HDMI in
- 2 USB ports for plugging in external devices, such as the Webcam
- Ethernet port
- HDMI out, for connecting to your TC
- SPDIF, for connecting the Revue to your HiFi’s amp or your AV Receiver
Note that the Revue also has built-in 802.11b/g/n WiFi if you don’t want to use (wired) Ethernet.
How does the Logitech Revue fit into your existing home entertainment system?
The Logitech Revue is itself a Set Top Box. But obviously, it’s not the only STB you’ve got. If you’re like me, you’ll have a STB from your cable or satellite provider (Sky, in my case, with its Sky+ box), or at the very least a Freeview box. You might also have a DVD or BluRay player, and possibly even a home theatre system.
That’s a lot of boxes, each with its own remote control.
And now you want to add another STB?! Just where will it fit, and how will it integrate with all of these other boxes?
Fortunately, Logitech has already figured this out.
The Logitech Revue hooks up to all of your other STBs, BluRay players and Sky+ boxes. The Revue then connects to your HDTV via its HDMI cable. You control all of the STBs, BluRay players, etc. from the Revue’s controller.
All of this is achieved thanks to Logitech’s Harmony technology, which it already uses in its Harmony Universal Remote, and which is integrated into the Revue box. The Revue’s controller communicates witth the Revue box via wireless (so doesn’t need line of sight to work), and the revue box communicates with all of your other STBs and what-nots via infraRed blasters.
In other words, the Revue controller controls the Revue box, which in turn controls every other box in your system. The Revue’s controller, therefore, acts as one universal remote for your entire home entertainment system.
As far as the TV itself is concerned, what you see is a browser (Google’s Chrome, naturally), with the TV signal running through the browser.
This really is impressive stuff!
How the Revue works its magic
The TV signal is fed through the browser. What this means is that the browser is always there, even if you can’t see it. So when you watch TV, you’re effectively watching it through a browser – you just can’t see it. But when you want to watch a video through YouTube, you can instantly see YouTube on screen – there’s no delay, no separate application to launch – it’s as quick and seamless as browsing to a different Web page.
For example, suppose you want to search for Top Gear. Simply click the search button on the keyboard and type in Top Gear in the search box that pops up at the top of the screen. The beauty of Google TV is that it will do a search across all media for the keywords you enter.
So in this example, you get results for Top Gear the TV programme (i.e. when it’s next showing from your TV provider); Top Gear videos on YouTube; Top Gear web pages; Top Gear on the BBC iPlayer; Top Gear results from Wikipedia; and if you had any Top Gear videos stored on your PC, they’d show up too.
Better still is the speed and ease at which you can choose these results. Because everything’s delivered through the browser, if you click on the YouTube link, you’re taken to YouTube instantly. Come out of YouTube and switch back to the TV instantly.
And if you want the best of both worlds, there’s live picture in picture – the TV programme will shrink down to the bottom right corner while you view a Web page about that TV programme. Perfect for watching the Apprentice, or X Factor or any other programme where you shout at the TV screen, while reading Twitter at the same and on the same screen!
Can you install Android Apps on your TV?
If being able to view the entire Web isn’t enough for you – and by the entire Web, I even mean those that require Flash (and full Flash at that, not just Flash Lite) – then the Revue will also let you install and use apps.
Out the box, the Revue comes with the following apps:
- Netflix (TV and movie streaming)
- Pandora (music streaming service)
- Logitech Vid HD (videocalling, when used with Logitech’s Webcam)
- Logitech Media Player (access all your photos, music and video directly from your PC and view/listen to them on your HDTV and home theatre.
- Logitec Alert Camera Viewer
- CNBC app (real-time stock quotes, video and business news)
From early next year, apps from the Android market will also work on Google TV on the Revue as well.
Can you control your TV from your Android phone or iPhone?
This is one of the coolest features of the Revue. You can download a free Harmony app for Android or iPhone and control your TV from your phone! Using gestures with your finger on your smartphone’s touchscreen, you can navigate through the menus with a swipe of your finger.
If finger-control isn’t right for you, just talk into the phone, and use your voice to control the TV.
It gets better than that, though. Suppose you find a YouTube video on your phone, and you start watching it, but your phone’s screen is a bit too small. Simply select the video, long touch it, and up will pop a share menu. One of the options will be “Harmony” – click this, and the video you’ve just been trying to watch on your phone’s screen will magically appear on your HDTV!
Can you view content from your PC?
This is another super-cool feature of the Logitech Revue. It uses DLNA to connect to your PC, from where you can view all your media content – photos, videos, music, the works. Better still, because this is Google TV, you can search for the content on your PC using the same search box that you search for other content, and all from your HDTV.
So if you were looking for a smart media streamer or media hub, give the Logitech Revue a try – it does the exact same thing, but with the benefit of Google TV thrown in, which provides a unified search interface across all your media, whether it’s on your PC, the Web, YouTube or the TV.
Video reviews of the Logitech Revue
If you’re not excited by all this, then take a look at these early video reviews of the Revue
So is Google TV going to change the world of TV?
In a word, yes. Not immediately. It’s only the first version, and there are obviously a few kinks that will need to be worked out. The controller, for one. Personally, I love the keyboard idea, and the Mini Keyboard that Logitech also sell is much better for home use. But the controller for Sony’s forthcoming HDTV with Google TV built-in looks ridiculous!
Equally, the integration with TV companies’ programme guides will need to be much tighter to make the whole experience completely seamless.
But all this will come. Just as Android on the phone took a year before it became capable of challenging the iPhone, so Google TV wil lneed a bit of bedding down as well.
But the good news is, Google TV updates itself automatically. Just like Android on your phone, whenever Google releases a new version of it, you don’t need to buy a new STB – your existing one is automatically updated, giving you new features for free!
So within two years at most, I predict Google TV really will be the revolution in TV that Internet TV has promised for so long.
Finally, is the Logitech Revue worth $299?
Of course, you’ll need to make this judgment yourself. It’ll obviously come down in price over time, and once other companies release their own versions of Google TV, we’ll get some interesting competition going on. Sony, for example, aren’t just releasing a TV with Google TV built-in, they’re alos releasing a BluRay player with Google TV.
But as the first Google TV STB, the Logitech STB is a fantastic effort. If you want the future of TV now, as well as the coolness of being able to fling videos, pictures and Web pages from your phone to your TV, then go and order the Logitech Revue now!