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Summary:

Logitech just significantly lowered the price of its Revue set-top box to $99. It’s a desperate move, but price-conscious consumers shouldn’t see it as a closeout sale. Instead, it may just be a great chance to get much more bang for your smart TV buck.

logitech revue

Logitech dropped the price of its Revue Google TV set-top to $99 this weekend, down from $249, after consumers all but ignored the device for more than half a year. Some folks may see the price reduction as yet another indicator that Google TV failed, but I think that a $99 Google TV box deserves a second chance.

Here are five reasons that make the $99 Logitech Revue worth buying:

1. The browser. This one is a biggie. A browser on your TV changes everything. Yes, Google TV has been blocked by virtually all major broadcasters, so you won’t be able to watch any videos from ABC.com or Hulu. However, you will find yourself in countless situations where current events and live concerts are streamed online, and most of them will be viewable just fine from your Google TV browser. Coachella? Check. NASA TV? Check. Professional video game players battling each other online? Check.

I know, the skeptics out there will still say, “But I don’t want to surf on my TV.” The good news is: You don’t have to, at least not in the traditional sense. There are now dozens of websites optimized for viewing on browser-based TV platforms. Check out some of them in Google TV’s Spotlight Gallery. YouTube on TV alone is so much better than any of its previous iterations on connected devices.

2. The Android remote app. Google TV remote controls have been the subject of a lot of mockery. I actually like the Revue keyboard, but I have to admit it’s not something I want to have on my lap all the time either. Luckily, there’s a really good Android app to control your Revue available, which not only simplifies the experience, but even offers voice input. It’s powered by Google’s speech recognition technology, so searching for a TV show is as easy as getting directions while you drive.

3. Honeycomb. I will admit, the current Google TV platform isn’t much fun to use. It’s overly complicated, giving you too many options to get to the stuff you really want. However, things are supposed to get much better with the platform’s next iteration, which is based on Android 3.1, also known as Honeycomb. And the good news is: Logitech’s Revue will support that version just fine, which may just make the Revue the most affordable hardware running Honeycomb, period.

4. The app store. Google TV currently doesn’t have access to the Android Market, but this is expected to change later this summer when it gets that Honeycomb upgrade. Some developers are already busy putting together apps specifically for the Google TV, but countless others may just take what they have developed for Android handsets, tweak it a little and make it available to Google TV users as well. Some of that will undoubtedly be a UI nightmare; a TV screen simply isn’t the same as a mobile phone.

However, if you’re an Android user, take good look at your handset. Maybe you’re like me, and you have apps from some of your favorite radio stations on there. Wouldn’t it be great to hear their music with the best speakers you have in your house? Or how about some of the casual games you have on your Android tablet: Woudn’t you love to play them on a bigger screen? A few months from now, Google TV users will have access to more apps than on any other TV platform — and some of those apps will be worth the purchase of this device alone.

The gateway used by Lighting Science to connect an Android tablet to mesh-networked LEDs.

5. Android @home. This could be the secret killer app of Google TV. Later this year, Google and some of its partners will start to sell a first round of home automation devices that directly interoperate with Android devices, making it possible to control them from any Android app. The very first devices to reach the market as part of this Android @home program will be LED light bulbs. Sounds boring, I know, but think about the possibilities. What if the Netflix app on your Google TV automatically dimmed the light once the movie started? What if Pandora could change the tone of the light based on the mood of the music?

There are of course still many reasons why someone wouldn’t want to buy the Revue. For one, a device that may suck less with the next software update isn’t really a good proposition for everyone. Also, future Google TV products from companies like Samsung and Vizio may just be better, making the Revue look outdated. Google TV also still doesn’t have access to Hulu Plus, and the Revue is optimized for people who use cable. However, if you’re currently in the market for a Boxee Box, an Apple TV or a Roku, do yourself a favor and take another look at the Revue. A few months from now, it may just feel like an incredible bargain.

Check out our original video review of the Logitech Revue below:

  1. In regards to the bit about GoogleTV being blocked by every major network, can’t the browser or OS ID be changed in it so it just says Firefox or Linux? How else would a website know what device is accessing it?

    The price was a non-starter. $249 is way too much for this functionality. $99 will be a much better test of whether or not people want this.

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    1. It’s blocked on the Flash player level. Changing the browser ID doesn’t help…

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      1. How does a site know the flash player is running on Google TV? What gives it away?

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    2. It’s blocked on the Flash player level. Simply changing the browser ID doesn’t help…

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      1. Working perfectly fine for me

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  2. @KenG – I was lucky enough to go to a Logitech Revue party in LA to test it out. We tried doing that, but couldnt make it happen. But there are soo many other great sites out there for content you know.

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  3. Interesting that 3 of the 5 reasons you give are not currently available. Based on the current user experience which you stated in the article “the current Google TV platform isn’t much fun to use”, I would not be inclined to spend $99. Might reconsider once the features you mentioned go live, but until then, I’ll keep my money ;)

    Google is clever in getting hardware companies to line up to do these risky product launches. Logitech lost their rear-end with this first iteration of Google TV. Motorola put out a tablet that wasn’t (still isn’t if you count 4G, though that isn’t Google’s fault) fully baked and sales have reflected slow consumer uptake. Has there been any indication from Sony regarding their Google TV roll out? Maybe Google is subsidizing these endeavors but I’ve not heard any specifics. Google is still commands enough brand respect that they can get assistance from mainstream hardware manufacturers, but many more of these rush jobs will begin to cause erosion in both manufacturer and consumer confidence. If they lose that, it will be hard for them to get “the next big thing” in front of consumers and build a market.

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    1. SantoTheWriter Tuesday, August 2, 2011

      I think it shows you how desperate hardware OEMs are that they are willing to push something out that is not fully baked in order to compete. It is as if the great ghost of Apple has them scared to the point that they cannot make logical decisions.

      That being said, I ordered one for $99. That is a price that I can deal with considering Apple TV, Roku, etc have similar price points

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    2. It’s really worse than 3 of 5 not being available. The remote presumes that the device is useful in the first place. So it’s circular reasoning that such a thing justifies the purchase. And the browser? Really? To watch Coachella one weekend a year? And Nasa which just got out of the launching business? Oh, and YouTube, which is mostly at low bit-rate because really my computer and iPad don’t have that covered? I’m sure there are reasons to buy the Revue. These are not them.

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    3. I’ll say this: the Google TV, for $99 blows away the Roku. The full flash browser is reason enough to pick this over the Roku, from my experience.

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  4. What’s the difference between streaming videos online using Google TV and other existing products?

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  5. So, uh, does it have the horsepower to stream/load 1080p?

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    1. Seems to.

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  6. where is country that sell
    this google TV.i am not from
    united states.

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  7. And one reason NOT to buy it

    IT SUCKS(Even for a $99 price tag)

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  8. WOW!! I wanna have that Apple TV.
    Garden Shed

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  9. Coachella? Once a year. Nasa? Is it still even around?

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  10. Google seem to think that the consumer electronics market wants to be beta testers. Using Google Music beta or free GMail beta is not the same as investing in expensive hardware for ones livingroom. The new UI is even worst than the original btw. Why would one need a desktp background on their tv screen?

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