Review: Logitech Revue with Google TV

Product: Logitech Revue With Google TV
Manufacturer: Logitech
Original MSRP: $99.00

I consider myself a bit of a tech-junkie and can appreciate the gadgets and gizmos that a company like Logitech has been confidently releasing over the years.  I am the proud owner of the Logitech Harmony One – an incredible remote that allows me to seamlessly control all of my man-cave devices.  From my 55″ Samsung 3D TV, Blu-ray player and Onkyo 7.1 Receiver to my PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and OnLive system, it truly is the one remote to rule them all.

When I first started hearing rumors about Logitech’s endeavor into the world of smart TV I was intrigued.  However, the initial price that was attached to this latest and greatest piece of technology made me more than a little hesitant.  That may very well have been the consensus for the majority of consumers in the market for just such a device.  This, combined with a long list of bugs and defects that are common with new technology, set the Revue on a path of near self-destruction.

Here we are, less than a full year from when it was first launched in October 2010 and Logitech has significantly reduced the price point for the Revue.  Dropping from $250 to a much more digestible $99 it suddenly became well within my reach.  I was also pleased to hear that many of the early “issues” have since been remedied.  Tack on free 2-day shipping from Logitech direct and it was a done deal.

Packaging & Aesthetics:

The Logitech Revue can easily be broken down into two parts – the receiver and the keyboard; both of which are minimal in size while sticking to the Logitech design philosophy of sleek, sharp and highly polished.  I was surprised after unpacking things that the box Logitech used was as big as it was.  Aside from the 2 components the only other items included were a power cord, HDMI cable, IR mini-Blaster and a less than adequate instruction manual.  To say that they over-packaged this device is an understatement.

The central companion box is less than the size of a laptop and is roughly 1- 1/2 inches think.  It accommodates for 2 HDMI ports (1 in and 1 out), S/PDIF (optical audio), 2 USB and a power connection.  It is light weight, can easily fit into just about any shelf of an entertainment center and, if you’re a fan of black-only A/V equipment, it merges nicely with practically everything else I have.

The wireless keyboard is slightly smaller than your average computer keyboard as it does not include a side number key pad; all numbers are reserved for the top row.  In place of the keypad are the mouse pad and other essential controls for the Revue and web browsing.  It’s practically paper thin with a slightly raised back edge along the underside that houses the 2 AA batteries (included) which power the device.  Although I can appreciate the compact size of the keyboard it ultimately feels somewhat cheap and fragile.  Accidentally sitting on this baby when left on the couch will likely result disaster.

Getting Started:

Setting things up couldn’t have been any easier.  Although a system requirement (see below) is a cable or satellite box with an HDMI out – and a TV with an HDMI in – it was an added bonus that they included an extra cable just for this purpose.  I still remember the disappointment when un-boxing my first high definition gaming console (I won’t name names) only to find out that it came packaged with a very non high definition cable.

The Revue allows for 2 very simple and standard options for connecting to your HD TV and cable provider (in my case – Dish Network): with or without including an A/V Receiver.  Because the majority of my components are passing through my Onkyo SR 606 I decided to keep things consistent.

Beyond this it’s a matter of deciding whether or not you need the IR Blaster and if you’ll be using your home network’s wireless capabilities or running an ethernet cable direct to the central companion box.  Because I anticipated using my Revue to stream videos I opted for the “stronger” connection via ethernet.  After a quick firmware check and update I was off and running.

Functionality:

The Logitech Revue boasts Google TV in a box, being able to watch what you want wherever it comes from – the Web or TV, future ready and built-in expandability.  All of this sounds impressive and definitely got my blood pumping the more I investigated these possibilities.  Unfortunately, good intentions and strong advertisements don’t always live up to expectations.  Such is the case with the Revue.

Although set-up was a breeze and I was able to control many of my other components with the keyboard, what I was most interested in performing seemed to fall flat.  Google Chrome is the web browser for the Revue.  You search just as you would while using a laptop.  The functionality is all there but the speed and response to your searches are inconsistent and finicky at best.  In a nutshell, some websites play much nicer with the Revue than others.  Those that cause the most amount of delay and, on more than one occasion a lock-up, are those sites that just have far too much going on and require a lot of downloading.  Sites like Gametrailers.com have prompted  more than one frozen screen and forced reboot.

I was disappointed with this realization but I wasn’t necessarily heart broken.  There are still a number of other functions that work rather well overall.  Being able to easily switch from a full screen, live or recorded (aka DVR) television show, to picture-in-picture to allow for a quick check of my email, fantasy football stats or the latest posting on PSNation.org, is a great benefit and further lessens the need for me to drag my ass from the couch.

Add to this a number of built-in Apps like Twitter, NBA Game Time, CNBC and Netflix – just to name a few – and the potential this little black box has to offer expands even further.  Recently I’ve been enjoying the ability to catch up on shows like Game of Thrones and the last season of Big Love via the HBO Go App.  Because streaming Netflix will probably never be able to afford HBO, and I’ve dropped the disc-based subscription since they jacked up their prices, this has been a fantastic way for me to still enjoy some incredible entertainment.

I will say that streaming a show from HBO Go to my Logitech Revue, although incredibly convenient, does not quite live up to the High Definition standards that Netflix has been able to accommodate for.  Don’t get me wrong, the picture quality is rather good, but there are still noticeable “defects” when compared to other streaming devices available.  Still, to be able to watch a show like Game of Thrones in HD on a 55″ Samsung when my other option was on a MacBook Pro doesn’t seem like a difficult decision.

Technical Specifications:

  • HDMI input: 1080p/60fps, 1.3a w/ CEC
  • HDMI output: 1080p/60fps, 1.3a w/ CEC
  • Networking:
    • Wireless: 802.11a/b/g/n
    • Wired: Ethernet 10/100 Base-T
  • Audio optical output (S/PDIF)
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • Integrated Logitech Harmony® Link IR blaster (for A/V device control)
  • Logitech Unifying wireless technology

System Requirements:

  • HDTV with HDMI port
  • Cable, satellite or telco box with HDMI out*
  • High-speed Internet access (Wi-Fi or Ethernet)
  • Your set-top box must be connected to your HDTV via an HDMI cable. Logitech provides one HDMI cable to connect Revue to your HDTV

Final Impressions:

Are there other options available to stream video to your TV?  Absolutely.  Are they any better?  Sure.  But the nice thing about the Revue is that it doesn’t start and end with the streaming of video.  On the contrary, that’s just the beginning.  The more I play with this device, the more I understand it’s capabilities, the more I can see how this was a good choice for me.  Sure, there are a number of issues that still plague the Revue but, like most of my connected devices, I’m hoping for future updates that will add new functionality and advance those that are already in place.  It has most certainly taken some time to get used to and it’s far from perfect, but for $99 it’s well worth the price.

Score:
8.0

Written by Bill Braun

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=723911497 James Davis

    What you forgot to mention was the Honeycomb update, due out any day now. Just recently, they added a plugin to the SDK to allow developers to port their apps for TV. In other words, it will have the Google app store in the near future i.e., games, other streaming services, etc. That alone makes the $99 price tag a steal in my book, much less the great feature set that it already has.

    • Anonymous

      I have heard that the Honeycomb update was available already but at a risk.  I’m not sure when it will be available for a safer integration but you’re right, that update will be quite nice.