So, it seems that the market has spoken about the Logitech Revue, with its implementation of Google TV, and what the market has been saying is not pretty. In fact, for whatever reason, there have been more returns than there have been sales to satisfied customers.
A friend, Jackstand, who happens to work for Google, got one of these devices when it first hit the market. He paid around $300. I’ve been to his man cave several times since then, but beyond an initial familiarization tour, I didn’t have much interest. I sure as hell wasn’t going to plunk down $300 on one.
Well, times change and so do Turkeys. Logitech recently dropped the price to $99, and the proverbial bell went off in this foul old fowl’s bird brain. I immediately ordered one. For those of you who don’t know about the Revue, there are plenty of reviews (Revues?) on-line. I won’t get into detailed descriptions here, or I might bore you all more than usual. Along somewhat similar lines, I’ve had an Apple TV since way back when, but the price of this thing was too good for me to worry about redundancy between the two. (AppleTV doesn’t do Netflix or Amazon, for obvious reasons, and it doesn’t give you web access with a browser. The Revue has the Google Chrome web browser, so it can access anything out there on the web that you can access from your laptop or desktop. Both boxes give you YouTube.)
Installation in my home theater was easy as pie. Fifteen minutes, most of which was spent dressing cables behind my receiver, was all I needed. It was quick like a vasectomy — snip! snip! One HDMI cable goes from the Set Top Box (STB) to the Revue and another goes from the Revue to the Audio Video Receiver (AVR). Then just hook up the power adapter and you’re there! Cranking it up and getting the software configured took about a half hour, as the magical box does stuff like load guide information for all the TV channels you receive plus configuring the specifics of your equipment so it can seamlessly communicate like it was a giant remote control. Take that, Apple TV!
Once I got it going, the interface device, a lightweight keyboard, amazed me. I knew about all the functions, having played with Jackstand’s more expensive version of the same thing, but I still marveled at the mysteries of the Revue. Somehow, it flawlessly controls STB, AVR, and TV with no discernible infrared blaster and where the hell is the battery in the stand-alone keyboard? Not only can’t I find a battery, but the damn thing doesn’t even have to be plugged in to be recharged! It is truly stand-alone. [I’ve finally found the battery compartment, which neatly hides a pair of AA batteries. —TNT]
Last night I introduced the Revue to Artificially Sweetened for the first time. She seemed delighted with the notion that she could now waste her time on Facebook without lugging the laptop from upstairs. “This is much better,” she said convincingly, and that was even before I showed her some of the fancier features. She got up to get something to drink and came back. “Give me my keyboard,” she said. Oh, now it’s her keyboard. She had taken possession of it.
When I showed AS the picture-in-picture function, which I demonstrated with the main screen filled with Facebook and the inset screen displaying Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, she was delighted because she didn’t have to line up the laptop and peer over the top of its screen to see the TV anymore. She speculated that this could be a fine bonding experience with her nine year-old son, good ol’ Sharkbite. He could be watching a how-to video about converting your semi-automatic assault rifle to full automatic while she plays Scrabble® on facebook. Yep, that’s parent-child bonding, 2011 style!
So, why did the product flop on the market if AS and I think it’s great? Well, maybe a lot of folks are daunted by the learning curve, if they’re not very tech savvy to begin with. Perhaps some didn’t understand that it’s not like the WebTV of the 1990s, which could hook up to any old TV and make it look like the RF-modulated, 480i crap that it was. The Revue requires HDMI connections in and out and preferably, a set-top box (either cable or satellite). Doubtless, some dolts who plunked down $300 were dismayed, disgruntled, and depressed when they opened the box and didn’t find a coaxial interface or even a trio of brightly color coded red, white, and yellow RCA phono jacks (as we old farts call them, because they were invented by RCA and they were used to connect your 45 rpm RCA record player (phonograph — “phono” for short), which had no amplifier or speaker, to your RCA TV (which did) — but I digress wistfully and paleotronically). Another big factor was that the promised content was mired in legal machinations as the TV networks restricted access to content — in particular, free content. Finally, the $300 price tag was just too steep for dolts and geeks alike.
For $99, even if we use only the web browser, the Logitech Revue with Google TV is a win. For Artificially Sweetened, it is, anyway. I don’t know whether I’ll ever get to see it again.