Last week I started taking a look at the Logitech Revue, but unfortunately my review was cut a little (okay, a lot) short due to a malfunctioning device. Magically though, the Revue started working after not messing with it for a day or two… so I was able to pick back up where I left off. To whom ever wins the device; never fear. We’re sending this one back and getting you a brand new one, so no worries about a half functioning device.
The review of this device, along with a Roku XD and Boxee Box, is all for a giveaway my company is doing (full details here) and as I mentioned last time, this box was the one I was most excited about. The Revue is especially hyped because it is supposed to fully integrate with your current media equipment in an attempt to be a “media hub”, if you will, for all your entertainment / information needs. A tall order no doubt. As many other bloggers have mentioned, Google doesn’t necessarily want to REPLACE your cable TV with their Google TV; they just want to add to it. I don’t know that I totally buy that just yet, but at this point in the game, that’s where we’re at. So what does this thing do? Let’s check it out.
Chrome… So shiny
To compare the Revue, or any Google TV device, to the Boxee Box or the Roku devices is almost to compare apples to oranges. Almost. All the devices fit neatly into the “internet TV” appliance category, but the three go about it in fairly different ways. The Boxee Box and Roku are heavily focused on the apps, while the Revue seems to hang it’s hat on the fact that it has a full blown, fully functional, Chrome browser built on the box. There are a handful of apps that run on the device today, don’t get me wrong; and with this device being built on what is basically the Android OS, new apps are sure to come in the near future (Google is apparently saying early 2011 you’ll be able to install apps yourself)… but when you’re done fiddling around with Netflix, YouTube, and Twitter… you start reaching for Chrome. And then you stay there; or at least I did.
Several people had previously asked if ESPN3 was available on any of these devices, so I checked on the Revue. It doesn’t have an app built in, but never fear, you can just browse on over to the website and start watching whatever sporting event you were looking for (I was checking out part of the DePaul vs. Stanford basketball game). While you’re on the website, you can make it easy on yourself to return here later by just clicking the bookmark button right on the keyboard. From there I bounced all over the internet; checking out Facebook and seeing what my personal website looked like on the big screen. Pretty cool stuff.
I’ll pause here and say that at this point my wife became interested… which is something to note, as up until now she was annoyed by these new devices sitting around the living room taking up space and cluttering things up. Suddenly this keyboard floating around the room seemed useful to her. Marketing people take note; that’s the big sell right there.
After messing around with the internet for a while, I fired up Pandora and found some Christmas music so we could decorate the Christmas tree while listening to some classics from Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, and the like. Shortly after finishing up the tree though is when disaster struck.
While decorating the tree, my wife mentioned a video she’d seen on Hulu she wanted to show me. I pull up the website from the Revue and am greeted by the message below:
Yep, that’s right… Hulu is taking note of what type of system you’re connecting with, and blocking you from accessing their content with the promise that they’ll let you pay for it soon enough. So to be clear, I could hook my laptop up to my TV via a HDMI cable and watch the video… but I hook the Revue up via the same HDMI cable, and they won’t let me. Make sense to you? Yep, me either. Clearly Hulu wants you to pay for their service (which oh by the way, still has commercials) but the fact that they’re discriminating based on the system type really gets on my nerves… and unfortunately Hulu isn’t the only site doing it. ABC, CBS, and NBC have apparently also joined in the party and are blocking Google TV as well. Why would they do that? Great question. I would assume they feel the same way about Google TV potentially replacing the cable / satellite providers as I do and are trying somehow thwart that, but I can only guess. By the way, if someone from the big three are paying attention, what you’re doing actually encourages pirating. People want these devices, and they want to be able to connect to the same websites with them they can from their computers and other web-enabled devices. You need a different strategy.
The Logitech Revue and its Google TV-ness; I like. The keyboard; I could get used to. Subsequently Logitech also makes a smaller keyboard that I’d love to try out and think I’d like better, AND they’ve created an iPhone / Android app that allows you to control a surprising amount of stuff right from your phone… which was very impressive. The user interface, which gets knocked around a bit from other reviewers, I actually found to be very satisfactory. It was easy to navigate and modify, and while it isn’t as app focused as the other two internet TV devices I worked with, I found it to be just as useful and friendly to get around in. With time as apps become more prevalent, your use of the browser may slow somewhat… but really I didn’t find this to be an issue at all. It is a slightly different approach, but as I mentioned, just as satisfying of an experience. Oh… and speaking of apps, if I could play Angry Birds on my big screen, I’d be in love for sure.