Keeping It Simple: Curtain Rises on Logitech Revue Google TV Box

The Logitech Revue Google TV box is finally here. Logitech raised the curtain Wednesday on its much anticipated $300 smart TV device, which aims to make watching content from the Web, broadcast and application sources as simple as pointing and clicking. And at first blush the Revue succeeds--at least in terms of ease of use.

Once connected with your audio/video devices and the Internet, the Revue can search for video content and automatically draw results from any source--the Web, a connected DVR and other places-and provide the results on your TV screen. Clicking on an item in a search results list opens the content without making the user throw a switch to change video sources. You can also surf the Web while watching video in a window. During a demonstration, a simple Web search drew results from the Web, YouTube and a connected DISH Network DVR.

Jill Szuchmacher, principal for new business development at Google, said the Revue's search engine had been optimized to list video content first but did not lean toward pushing any particular source, like the Web, to the top of the search results. "There's a lot of secret sauce happening on the back end," she said.

The Revue can be preordered now from Logitech's Web site, Best Buy and Amazon and will be ready for delivery by the end of the month.

In a cramped and packed news conference in New York, Junien Labrousse, Logitech's executive vice president for products, said the Revue was designed with simplicity in mind. He said the problem for video consumers wasn't so much the availability of content, but the fact that it was split across so many screens, including TVs, computers and smartphones. The Revue, he explained, places all of that content on one screen and makes it easy to search for and discover.

"We have always had this passion at Logitech: Nothing between me and my content," said Labrousse. "The magic with the Logitech Revue is that everything just works."

The Revue comes with a thin wireless QWERTY keyboard with a touch pad (available separately for $100) and much smaller backlit mini keypad is also available for $130. Both communicate via RF, which means that the units need not be pointed at the Revue box. The wireless keyboards are based on Logitech's Harmony family of programmable remotes, all which can be configured on the Web.

The Revue itself has four IR blasters, which means it can communicate even with remote-controlled devices in the corners of a large room. Since the Revue runs the Android OS, many phone apps will run on the device, although it won't get direct access to the Android Market until 2011, according to a Google representative. Already installed in the Revue are apps for Twitter, Netflix, Napster, Amazon, Pandora, NBA Gametime, Logitech Media Player, Picasa Gallery, YouTube and more.

The installed version of Android supports Adobe Flash 10.1 and the unit runs a flavor of version 5 of the Chrome web browser.

If you don't want to use the keyboard controllers, the Revue can also be controlled with free iPhone and Android apps, both of which support gestures. This means you can scroll through the Revue's on-screen menus by sliding your finger across your smartphone's screen.

Also introduced Wednesday was the $150 Logitech TV Cam HD webcam, which has two microphones and is optimized for low-light conditions, and Logitech Vid HD, an app which makes it easy to make HD video calls with the Revue and your TV-not computer is needed.

Logitech representatives said negotiations are underway to add new content to the Revue's menu.

Product mentioned in this article

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  • Logitech Revue

    The Logitech Revue brings Google search and Web browsing to your HDTV, along with media streaming and optional videoconferencing, but it's underpowered and pricey.

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