I have been a fan of having a multimedia HTPC for many years… much longer than it has become ‘chic’ to have one but it wasn’t until recent years that the TV technology and the hardware needed to run these services finally caught up with the mainstream market. In this market, we have the AppleTV, the Roku, Boxxee, and the GoogleTV. By and large, the Roku has the highest visibility in the mainstream market and those who are part of the cult of Mac are well familiar with AppleTV. The open source community is taking notice of Boxxee but it has only a minor hold in the appliance market. The last contender is the GoogleTV system which is deployed to various Sony TV’s but also released their appliance, the Logitech Revue which I finally decided to purchase with its nice $99 price tag.
Now, I should mention that a day or two after I purchased my device, Logitech made a public announcement that they feel that the Revue was a massive failure because it didn’t sell well in the Christmas market last year. I think they might change their tune now that the price point has dropped as my favorite vendor, NewEgg, was completely sold out of these devices so I made a deal with the devil and bought mine from BestBuy, rumor has it that they are quickly running out of stock on this device too. Perhaps Logitech should have been more patient? This year might be a real winner for this device as I have already been very impressed with this and I only opened it last night.
The Revue is a small footprint device, only about 12″ by 8″ and by all extents and purchases looks like little more than a black mushroom with green lights on the front. If you check out the back, you will find a power plug, an HDMI In, and HDMI out, two IR Blaster ports, an SDPIF port, an Rj-45 jack, and a Logitech Unifying receiver. The wonderful part about this thing, in my opinion, is the simplicity of it all. You don’t have to connect it to a spare port on your TV which is awesome since my HDTV only has two HDMI ports, one of which goes to my Blu-Ray player, the other going to my cable box. You simply place this device inline with your HDMI (cable from the wall hits your cable box, HDMI out of the cable box goes IN to the HDMI on the Revue, HDMI Out on the Revue goes to my TV), they even give you a nice HDMI cable with the box. Feed your revue a network connection either RJ-45 or my choice, 802.11g Wi-Fi, and the device takes care of the rest.
When I first booted this up, I went through a very simple series of set up screens including a GMail account to link it to, information for my Wi-Fi (the key and so on) and a few other things. It downloaded an update to itself after it got a live internet connection and then rebooted. Once it rebooted, it asked me to provide it with the Make/Model of my cable box, my TV, and my home stereo system as well as the provider for my cable service. After a few inputs, it knew everything it needed to pre-program the keyboard remote control included to control these device. No joke, it searched itself for the codes (like a universal remote would do) and within a few minutes, I could control my cable box, my TV, and my stereo from this nifty little keyboard/touchpad controller. The picture was crystal clear on my HD channels and the guide button on the remote does, in fact, open the guide on my TV but that’s just the beginning of this device’s ability.
I launched the Applications included (appearing in a slightly annoying but not horrible screen overlay) and set up my NetFlix account, my Pandora radio account, and had the option to do the same for Amazon (don’t have one of those yet), CrunchyRoll (same story) and many others. I also really liked that the thing doesn’t interfere with anything already setup on the box, it lets me access my DVR features from my cable box, it lets me easily switch tasks with very little issue and my wife likes the fact she can use the regular TV remote if she wanted to change channels and such.
So far, I am very pleased with this thing. I think Logitech made a bigger failure by deciding to drop support for this device as it will really be awesome if it sells out everywhere this year. As far as I know, Google itself has stated publicly that it will keep supporting this device even if Logitech doesn’t. So basically, I get two bonuses, the thing keeps working and I don’t have to deal with Logitech’s often annoying tech support team. Win Win if you ask me.