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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:

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  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.

    1. Janko Roettgers KenG Monday, August 1, 2011

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

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

    2. Janko Roettgers KenG Monday, August 1, 2011

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

      1. Katie @ women magazine Janko Roettgers Monday, August 1, 2011

        Working perfectly fine for me

  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.

  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.

    1. 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

    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.

    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.

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

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

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

  7. And one reason NOT to buy it

    IT SUCKS(Even for a $99 price tag)

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

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

  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?

  11. It’s really not enough to warrant $99…you can’t wait for anticipated features and hope they’ll be a hit. Plus, isn’t this an idea that’s been done before, and hasn’t worked out?

  12. Where is that invisible hand of a PR/Marketing/Promotions department that is pushing this along? Is it coming from Logitech or is it coming from Google?

    Besides this article, I’ve also heard radio reviews in the last couple of days that basically stated the same thing.

    This does not smell like original content – it smells like sponsored content.

    And the message it great: it stunk at $250 so only throw away $100. Someday, what if, it may dim your lights. Huzzah!

    1. Janko Roettgers Guest Tuesday, August 2, 2011

      If you watch my original review videos, or read the review here…

      http://gigaom.com/video/google-tv-review-a-first-stab-at-a-powerful-concept/

      you’ll see that there always were things that I liked about the Revue. And with such a huge price cut, those seem even more appealing.

      1. I spoke to a friend with a Roku, and told him of the things it could do. He thought the Google was probably worth $200, in his mind. He paid $79 for his Roku, and wishes it did a lot of the things the Google does.

  13. They are saying that it was overpriced at $250 but it’s not at a hundred bucks. How difficult is this to understand?

    I’ve had my Google TV since launch I don’t feel one bit of remorse. Do I wish the networks didn’t have their heads so far up their asses that they can’t see that the ONLY time I watch ads during TV shows is online so they should WANT me watching that way? Of course I do. But that doesn’t mean the GTV hasn’t been useful to me and my family as it stand now. It gets used in my home every single day and when the update brings the Android Marketplace to GTV it will be a great device. Especially at a hundred bucks. I’m planning on buying at least one more.

  14. Janko Roettgers Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    @Katie, I guess you should never say never. Different sites have different policies. Which ones work for you?

  15. Umm, I guess I don’t understand why someone would need to deal with the complexity and blocked content on a GoogleTV device for web access on their HDTV.

    I simply dock (HDMI cable/charge cable) my laptop on shelf in my home theater and have a wireless lap keyboard with trackball next to the couch.

    Then I can access ALL the web content I want because my TV becomes the monitor.

    Ok, so I don’t get the cable/satellite overlay and “apps” but so what? I can still access any website and all video content I want.

    Problem solved.

    Sony’s NSZGT1 Google BluRay player, Google TVs and this revue box have seen enormous price drops lately because they’re essentially flawed from the start. Stay away!

    1. Does your laptop cost $99?

  16. Google’s main problem in consumers electronics is, imho, that they are all engineers, so all their stuff is palatable only to “tinkerers” (as an engineer and happy user of a Nokia N8, I think I’m part of that group :)
    As for the baby boomers, soccer moms and other more “tech challenged people” there’s always something with a fruit logo waiting for them..

    1. I am an engineer — java ee, enterprise stuff. I actually get great inspiration from Apple products. Check out this documentary called “Objectification” (on Netflix). It features Dieter Rams, chief designer for Braun and considered one of the best designers in the world. He claims the best design company is Apple. No doubt. Design should be unobtrusive. It astonishes me how many techies want to tinker with something, after they have been writing code all day. I personally want to go home to something easy to use, elegant, and unobtrusive, like Apple TV. I also learn a lot about UI design and work flow from Apple products. They put a lot of effort in UI/UX, and are relentlessly copied by others, because good design is Apple. Even as a geek and as someone who works more on the backend than front end, Apple inspires me to make better middleware… And when I do work on user interfaces, I really think of principles of design, and try not to shart out some code with some goofy user interface.

      1. I can’t deny that Apple’s interfaces are simple to use for technophobes. But for me, they are hopelessly constrained and extremely frustrating. Almost every time I use an iPhone, I chafe at the UI. I almost never pick up any usability from Apple UI in my own coding, but they certainly make everything *look* good and there’s plenty to be influenced there.

  17. Does this have access to a full browser to be able to pay bills and check your bank statements etc?

    1. Yes, it has the Google Chrome Browser.

      The version included in the recently leaked build of Honeycomb 3.1 for the GoogleTV is quite fast.

      1. It is not the full Chrome browser, but a one-off of ver. 5. Please read the engadget review, it is much more balanced and factual than this commercial…

  18. So $99 for a product that is at best semi usefull???

  19. I’ve got an idea for those who may be in a similar situation as myself. I don’t have an extra cable box hooked up to my tv. I don’t want to pay them each month for it. Problem is I hate LG’s channel changing interface. I was hoping the Revue would have a built in tuner. It doesn’t. There is a company that provides a tuner with hdmi out but it’s almost a $100 and is really poorly made and serviced. I found through my research that I can buy an HD Tivo (for less than $50 on Craigslist) and use it as my TV tuner. I don’t care about the dvr functions, so I don’t have to pay for the subscription. I have hulu plus, netflix, etc. Now I will take the HDMI out of the Tivo HD, get a much better user interface for channel surfing, and run that HDMI to the Revue.

  20. My Revue came in today. For $99, it is worth it, if you watch videos online. GTV has serious potential esp when the android app market is released later this summer. If it could get some sports programming, e.g. NBA TV, ESPN, NFL, etc apps, I’d seriously consider cutting the cord.

    1. Apple TV has NBA and MLB… Really, more content overall — Netflix, iTunes, podcasts, YouTube, vimeo, Internet radio, flickr, mobile me. Then there is the connectivity between Apple TV and your iOS devices, Mac, or PC — AirPlay and home sharing, which open up a universe of content. Oh, and Apple TV is $90 and uses 5 watts of power. It is 720p, but HD content on iTunes has 30 fps, which provides astonishingly smooth motion — even better than Blu-Ray, which is 24 fps. I compared an episode of Torchwood on Netflix to one downloaded (for free) from iTunes. iTunes HD is remarkable. I also prefer downloading to streaming. But even with my slow 1.5 Mbps DSL, Apple TV provides flawless Netflix streaming, as well as all the other services working flawlessly… Yeah, nothing is blocked. Apple is pretty good at making deals with content providers. If they buy Hulu, it will be on Apple TV, but until then, I can jus AirPlay it from my iPad onto Apple TV. I do the same with PBS…

      1. You said iTunes.

        Pass.

      2. Edit: Please note: I have no real problems with iDevices. iTunes, on the other hand, sucks donkey balls.

      3. So GOOD for you…supporting the Clowns who sue ANY company for using a “rectangular black slab”. I prefer CONTROL over Dictatorship. Google TV may have been introduced Early but is catching on Quite Quickly for enthusiasts who prefer CHOICE. I bought the Revue almost a year ago and find it quite Powerful in its Design, applications and, MOST Importantly to me : Potential. This same “Potential” is what led Android Smart Phones to a 50% World Wide share with apple Struggling to hold onto its 20% market share. That SAME “Potential” is now $99 bucks and I’ve bought 2 more for my home. Again, CHOICE is a Critical Factor in my decision making and this Choice of the GORGEOUSLY Designed Revue will only help Google TV Explode into the Marketplace for TV JUST as it has in the Mobile World, the Browser world, the Search world, the VOIP world,etc, etc.OK, so it’s not FREE like Most of their products but what a SWEET deal!

  21. Uh, Google TV does not run standard Android and the Honeycomb release is a special version for Google TV. It does not and will not run just any Android application. The apps have to be designed specifically for Google TV using the APIs. If you were hoping to download one of the hundreds of Honeycomb apps, sorry… That won’t work. Check out engadget’s review of Google TV. It is a bit more comprehensive and balanced than this piece, which is basically an advertisement. There are some severe issues with Google TV… Netflix is done very poorly and everything is Flash based, so you have to control the video with tiny on screen controls on the Flash app. Also, just like with all Flash content on Android, it is dead slow. They say watching video is fine, but when ads pop up, it is dead slow. BTW, that’s why Google is so pro-Flash. It’s not about choice, because there is no Silverlight, Java FX, or QuickTime… It is about having users watch ads, such as the Flash based ads on YouTube. A Google rep admits this is why Google TV is Flash based… It’s in the engadget review. I would personally recommend getting Apple TV, as it is $10 cheaper, has a much better user experience, and much more content. Netflix, in particular, is extremely well done on Apple TV. It even allows you to view all the actors in a movie, and when you move the cursor over each actor, you can select other movies or tv shows they are in. It’s actually better than the Netflix website, which has that functionality, but Apple implements it in such a better way… On Google TV, the Netflix app only has the instant queue… No recommendations, no searching, no browsing of videos. That’s why Google TV has a browser… You have to go to the Netflix site, add the video to your queue, and then go back to the Netflix app to play it (because the Netflix site uses Silverlight for video playback). Seems pretty crwppy to me. Par for the course with Google these days. That’s why half of Logitech revue units are returned.

    1. Strange, my GTV has a Netflix app which allows me to search, browse video’s and recommendations.

      1. It’s a special Google TV version.

  22. Riley Filiere Friday, August 19, 2011

    i was asking comcaste and they didnt know, but can i rent a comcaste access card to put it in the google tv box? Comcast will let me rent one but dont know if the box has a slot for it so i dont need the other box??

  23. I got mine for $49.99 after using 50% coupon from Logitech. Fo me if worth the price just using a thumb drive with downloaded movies in HD using the MKV format — something apple TV doesn’t support!

  24. Richard Crockett Monday, August 29, 2011

    Many TVs now have keyboards and they work fine with cable companies that have Internet so no need for 2 boxes – and nothing is blocked.

  25. I used to have just a plain old samsung blu-ray and it had netflix and a youtube app(managing it was like pulling teeth cause the remote didn’t have a keyboard), and I have to say my new Sony BluRay w/ Google TV blows it out of the water. It is so much more enjoyable to have a full size key board. I’ve been able to rent movies from Youtube and the Netflix App is way better than any standard blu ray player or roku or whatever it’s called. I’m constantly on it, because in a lot of cases it’s more comfortable than sitting at a computer. The thing is the App store is a for sure thing that will come to Google TV. So it’ll only get better. But still I don’t know why there are so many Google TV haters out there.

  26. I picked up a Logitech Revue a few days ago, and I cannot figure out,,, why? Why would anyone bother? I’ve run a Roku and a Sony SMP-N100 for a year now, and if I really want content, I can just load up Playon. But between crackle, hulu plus, and netflix with local broadcasts for news, I have it covered. Google TV gives me very little, and I’ve looked. If you really want content and playability pickup a boxee box with navix. I’m also testing one of those right now. But the Logitech Revue is a waste at any price. Not even worth the HDMI port it takes up.

    1. So what you are saying is that you already have two devices to do what one GoogleTV box does on it’s own. Most of us are smart enough to not spend money that recklessly.

  27. I bought the Revue strictly for the ability to control my whole house video, audio, and camera surveillance system from any iphone or android tablet anywhere in the house. I have cat5e(2) run to 4 locations, family room, master bedroom, game room and home theatre and I have a 4X4 hdmi matrix switch which I will use to distribute 4 HD sources. Granted the revue at this time will only allow you to configure IR for 3 devices, but I think I have figured out a way around this, but hopefully :-) Logitech will see the wisdom in allowing more devices to be configured in the Revue. I would gladly even pay more for this. Google TV is just an added bonus for me, and I like it very much by the way.

  28. It’s a Huge flop!! Even if you forget the on-line tv apps and try to use it as a simple media player… don’t even bother. Doesn’t read different audio tracks on video files, doesn’t read subtitles, anything with DTS audio doesn’t read as well… the list goes on. Those are features that any basic cheap media player has. Wouldn’t spend even 10$ on it if I knew this before… how could I imagine…

  29. I am a web developer at a small university. I’m always looking for ways to get our students & faculty connected “cheaply” to the Web. What’s being used today for entertainment & social communications can usually be modified, tweaked, or re-directed for educational purposes tomorrow. The Revue doesn’t do a whole lot of things it needs to, but it does a whole lot of things. For the $99 price tag, I can have alot of forgiveness. For $99 + an HDTV & the high bandwidth pipe we already have, I can have students blogging via Gmail to their WordPress sites. If one of the upcoming apps reads PDFs great! And for those elementary & high school classrooms with tight budgets, a Revue, at $99, changes the ball game.

    Hey, even if we don’t have a network connection, I can plug a flash or portable hard drive into the Revue and play a bunch of videos or audio lectures.

  30. A new upgrade will be available for only the new buyers?

  31. There are workarounds for all of these sites that block access to content because its being requested from the Revue. The one I personally prefer is “PlayOn” which runs on another computer in the home and acts as an intermediary to the Revue. Almost any site you can get with your desktop can be viewed using this setup.

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