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Friday, January 13, 2012

Review - Logitech Revue: Google TV


Greetings Geeks! A few weeks ago I received a Logitech Revue from Jolly ol' St. Nick. I made it a point to use it as much as possible and now after a hearty love affair with this little device, I am ready to share my thoughts.

Read my full review after the jump.



The Revue is Logitech's set top box answer for Google TV. If you have an HDTV and just so happen to have Dish Network, then you are sitting pretty.



Out of the Box/Setup:
The Logitech Revue comes in a stylish box emblazoned with the Logitech Logo, the Google Logo and pretty little art deco like flourishes that make you go "Ooooh and Aaaahh" But let's be real, you want to hook this sucker up and get some internet TV!

In the box are a set of instructions, the Revue set top box, a wireless keyboard with integrated touchpad, power adapter and an HDMI cable.

The back of the Google TV has a few ports on it. An HDMI in, an HDMI out, an ethernet port, an optical audio out port, USB port and a power port. So if you don't have HDMI on your TV...Stop reading and go buy a new TV.

Initial setup seemed simple enough at first, but I did run into a little snag that forced me to reset to factory defaults just after completely configuring to my tastes.

Here's the story. The Revue acts as a pass through for your HDMI device. However, it does not like to be part of an HDMI switcher mix. After I connected my Dish to my Revue to my RCA Stereo with built-in HDMI switcher, to my HDTV and set everything up just the way I wanted, I found that the Revue simply stopped displaying. No picture. I reset to factory default and was able to get the loading image to appear but was unable to see both the Dish and the Google interface. Luckily, my HDTV has 2 HDMI ports, so I had to run the Dish to the Revue then directly to the HDTV. The Revue does have an optical audio out port, so I was able to run that to my RCA stereo and with a few clicks, I was back in action.


Performance:
The Revue has had a rough year. No love from the bulk of the tech community gave this little box a bad rap. The sluggish and limited Android OS didn't help much either. But now she's gotten a face lift thanks to Honeycomb and I've got to say that I have found the entire experience delightful.

The interface is snappy and I found little waiting between click and reaction.
One of the great things about Dish integration is the Channel guide. You can see what movies or TV shows are on, what channel, what quality (HD or SD) and even how much time is remaining. It has rendered the default Dish Guide almost completely useless.

The integration with my Google account is clean and seamless. I was also able to link my Netflix account to the device which also adds it's enormous list of films to the watchable guide.

Picture in picture works great, and the Google overlay when accessing the home screen is obstructive but not completely a deal breaker. I much prefer the way Vizio dressed up Google TV in their new line shown at CES 2012, but I won't hold it against Logitech. They've got a really nice product.

The Android Market looks great and runs great. I was able to install some apps without issue.
Google Music played my music collection with no difficulty and I experienced none of the force closing that some have complained about.
Downloading the GTVBox Player ($1.99) added a Media Center like feature to the Revue. It allowed me to access all the video files stored on my NAS and played them wonderfully.
Youtube was simple and sweet.
Chrome browser was a very easy to use setup. It played online video without issue and allowed access to every webpage I threw at it. This is also the only app where I felt the need for the Logitech touchpad. Almost every other feature of Google TV can be controlled from the keyboard portion of the controls.

Speaking of which, let's take a moment to discuss the controls.
Logitech opted for a full sized keyboard/touchpad combo to operate this device. I like it. While I'm not totally sold on the idea that one needs a full size keyboard to operate their TV, I do see each button has a clear function and the loss of any would be a huge frustration. Nevertheless I feel that a better answer is lurking around the corner (I'm looking at you Vizio)

Pros:
Clean interface
Snappy speeds
Android Market
$99 price point

Cons:
Home screen obstructs view of Live TV
Small monthly fee for full Dish integration
Setup wasn't as simple as I would have liked
Control is basically a full sized keyboard which can be clunky to use in the living room

Final Thoughts:
The Logitech Revue is a dream come true. Google TV beautifully integrated without the need to purchase a whole new TV. I don't know how this didn't become a huge success..even with the cons I've listed above. If you've ever wanted full internet integration in your TV, then this is the device and the price to get. $99...Google TV. It doesn't get much better.

4.5 out of 5 Geegamons

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