Today, Logitech launched the Revue which is their set-top box powered by GoogleTV. This is the first of many future devices that will use GoogleTV and will initially be sold for $299.99. I have not had any hands-on experience with the unit yet, but wanted to provide some introductory perspectives.
The first thing that caught my eye about the unit was the controller. The original insider reports suggested that the included remote would be the Logitech Mini Controller, but Logitech chose to package a full-size keyboard instead. The keyboard offers extensive functionality, but appears to be bulky and it looks like it would be awkward to use in practice. The Mini Controller is available, but requires an additional $129.99 which seems extraordinarily expensive.
Another interesting element of the device is that it requires HDMI connectivity to the TV. This is not a problem if you have a modern HDTV, but those people with older HDTV TVs or traditional SDTVs are out of luck and cannot use the device. I understand that HDTVs provide much better picture quality, but am surprised that Logitech decided to ignore non-HDMI equipped HDTVs and SDTVs. My guess is that this omission will be corrected in a future product release.
The Revue’s feature set is consistent with original projections. The unit offers a complete web browsing experience and the ability to stream video from almost any source on the Internet. Additionally, it can leverage the Android Market for add-on applications. Finally, the device also integrates with Logitech’s Harmony Remote Controls thus allowing for a truly unified remote experience. In general, I believe that the Revue’s feature set and flexibility is impressive and is a differentiator from other platforms.
In summary, the Revue seems like an interesting solution. At $300, it is a premium priced device that melds the experience of watching TV and personal computing. However, I wonder if it has the right combination of price and features. Roku or AppleTV emulate some of the Revu’s most important functionality for a price of about $100. Alternatively, the iPad provides an even richer feature set and enhanced portability for a few hundred dollars more. The Revue is a compromise between these two device categories, and I question whether it provides the right balance of functionality and value.