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Logitech Revue: The Wrong Choice for Cord Cutters

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I just got back from Logitech’s (s LOGI) Google TV (s GOOG) press event in San Francisco, and my first impression of the first Google TV set-top box coming to market is decidedly mixed. I had a chance to play with the box as well as the two input devices launched today a little bit, and I liked what I saw. However, with no access to either or over-the-air TV, it seems like cord cutters should hold out for other solutions.

But let’s talk a little bit about the things I liked first: The full keyboard had a nice feel to it. Light, but not too cheap. I was told by folks from Logitech that it can operate survive on a single battery charge for up to a year, and the fact that it comes with an integrated touch-pad should help all of us who have gotten used to surfing the web with our laptops while watching TV to transition.

Also promising is the integration of local content: Logitech’s media player app is DLNA-compatible, so it should have no problem accessing content from your local network, as well as any attached storage.

And finally, the integration of TV content is pretty clever: Dish Network (s DISH) users will get the whole deal, including the ability to search their DVR recordings from within the Google TV search.

Users of other cable or satellite TV providers won’t be able to tap into the DVR, but they’ll be able to access a provider-specific EPG based on their zip code, which is very similar to what TiVo (s TIVO) has been doing for its customers. Want to know which news shows are playing right now? Just search for news, and you’ll be able to switch to any of your linear TV channels, or watch it picture-in-picture while you’re browsing a news site.

However, if you’re a cord cutter like me, none of this will work. Logitech’s Revue gets its traditional TV content via HDMI daisy-chaining, meaning that you’ll plug your cable set-top box via HDMI into Revue and then connect Revue to your TV.

Well, guess what: I don’t have a cable box. Instead, I’m accessing a few dozen channels over the air, many of which are broadcasting in HD. All I need for that is a plain old antenna, plugged directly into my TV. To access HDMI, I’ll have to switch inputs, meaning that I won’t be able to access Google TV and actual TV content at the same time. Folks from Logitech acknowledged this issue in a conversation with me, but insisted that the device is still a great choice if you only access online content with it.

One of the questions for many cord cutters has been whether you’ll be able to access Hulu with Google TV products. The answer is no, at least for now. Check out the video below to see what happens if you try with a Logitech Revue.

Google’s TV product manager Rishi Chandra, who will be speaking at our upcoming NewTeeVee Live conference in November, said in a Q&A session during today’s launch event that there is much more coming for Google TV: “This is a box that is gonna get better every day,” he told the audience. That may be true when it comes to online content — but unfortunately, there’s no way that Logitech can bring linear over the air TV to cord cutters with Revue’s current hardware.

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46 Responses to “Logitech Revue: The Wrong Choice for Cord Cutters”

  1. Well, duh, I just talked Logitech, and given the limitations that Janko mentioned of switching off and on between Web and TV, the thing would work with the addition of a router, which of course should have been obvious. I’m also interested in the rumored upcoming Sony TV with inbuilt Web browsing capability. It will be interesting to see how Sony and the other manufacturers implement the functionality.

  2. Janko,

    I for one am very happy with OTA TV. Get great reception, and sufficient channels on my little Toshiba HDTV with a Winegard antenna. Don’t want sissy cable or satellite. I have a DSL modem connected to an Intel Core 2 Duo Mac via ethernet (ISP is AT&T). My interest in the Logitec box/google TV is mainly to watch some live events such as sports on ESPN3 web broadcast, on my TV screen rather than the Mac, but I’m not at all clear about how the hookup would work.

    Dumb questions:

    HDMI cable from logitec box directly to TV HDMI port – check?

    Ethernet cable from Logitec box to DSL modem – there’s the rub:
    the DSL ethernet modem port is already occupied cabling to the Mac.
    In any case, it’s too far to cable ethernet to the TV (40 ft. with rooms in between). Ethernet cable splitter? Two DSL modems? Airport relay? Bluetooth?- Airport or Bluetooth to both Mac and TV or Ethernet to Mac and Airport Bluetooth to TV?

  3. If I am looking to mainly to cut cost from not having cable, and am looking just to have an internet connection where I can get Netflix for movies and some type of a Hulu site for TV shows, what is best for me? The Playstation 3 seems to be very similar to the Revue. It supposedly plugs right into the back of the HD TV, has wireless access to connect to my wireless router, provides Netflix for free (savings to go towards cost of unit over time), and I haven’t heard that it has blocked Hulu (has anyone else?). I don’t know if it has a browser capability like the Revue where I can access other channels for TV shows (ABC, NBC, etc online). Is there a draw back to going this route? They cost very similar. ([email protected]) Thanks

  4. I am very confused with this whole discussion and research I’ve been doing. I have cut connection with the cable company. I tried the over the air reception of HD without anything except a handful of Korean channels. I believed that I could get a Logitech Revue and hook that to my HDTV and play Netflix and Hulu (or Hulu type sites) for my tv shows. To date I have realized that Hulu won’t work because still in negotiations, but I’m hoping one of the other similar sites will. I realize I won’t have straming live TV channels, but can watch current prerecorded shows from these sites. But now I am learning that if I don’t have a cable box of some type, that the Revue won’t work for me for what I want. Can someone please let me know the truth, there’s so many differing opinions on here, Please email me at [email protected]. I pre ordered the unit, but need to know if I should cancel. I’ve heard talk of a Roku and Playstation 3 as alternatives. What is best for me? Thanks

  5. Swyzlstyx

    Thanks! A quick search found this article, and instantly answered the two questions I had about Google TV and the Logitech Revue, which I was very interested in.

    Most of the TV I watch is OTA…the rest is Hulu. I’ve had cable DVR and satellite DVR…I won’t go back.

    I don’t care for clutter…or monthly payments!

    It’s a shame…I’m a near-total Google convert for personal and business!

  6. I was initially very excited about the Logitech Revue–until I realized that it needs to be chained to a set-top box to provide full functionality. This was confirmed by an employee I spoke to from Logitech.

    The problem with this is that I (like many others) have done away with our cable set-top boxes because many televisions these days allow you to plug your cable company’s CI card directly into the TV’s CI card slot–thus eliminating the need for a set-top box. The TV does it all.

    So, why would I want to reconnect a superfluous set-top box only so that I can attach the Logitech Revue? More cables, more clutter, no sense.

    I asked the Logitech employee if there were plans to release a Revue with an integrated CI slot, but he didn’t know. All he could do was say that he “understood” where I was coming from.

    The Logitech Revue looks like a great product, but without a set-top box, the only thing it does is put a web browser on your television.

  7. Janko, I completely agree. I’ve been trying to see the “value added” in a product like this or similar, whether that’s a Roku, or Apple TV or Boxee, and I just don’t see it, ESPECIALLY since I am a “cord-cutter”. (and no, I’m not poor, or 100 years old.)
    A PVR and antenna, XBMC, Netflix and Netflix streaming all via an old laptop connected to the 47″ LCD TV.
    The whole idea of not getting cable is so that I don’t pay for stuff I don’t watch, and guess what, 90% of the TV I watch is on OTA broadcast. The other 10% I can get other ways, albeit from Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, direct websites, or (dare I say) bittorrent.

  8. nikolay

    I was waiting for this, and just realize this box can’t support OTA TV.

    I can’t understand why is so hard for some people to get the main idea of the article.

    Logitech Revue is missing Coaxial Cable plug (antenna plug connector), so you can’t connect your antenna, and why you going to buy external tuner, when your TV is already with built-in tuner? And that on the top of the $299.00 already spent.
    The $299.00 price tag should be convenience after all. Yes, you can still access your 25 free HD channels, but one will need the TV remote to switch inputs from HDMI (Logitech Revue) to TV (antenna).

    All, of the suggestions here are not tested, a USB tuner might work as TV source, since the Logitech Revue TV option will look for content from the “IN” HDMI port, which will be empty without cable box.

    A working solution will be Logitech external adapter or tuner. But, this after they realize that some people do need this connection.

  9. Dan Agostino

    Re: the debate as to whether ATSC tuner boxes do HDMI output…

    For “converter boxes” that were eligible for the US government coupon discount: None of these have HD outputs, whether component analog HD or HDMI. It was actually a condition of coupon eligibility that they only provide SD-resolution output, to prevent abuse from people who were above the income grade that the coupon program was intended to help. That’s why they are called “converter” boxes or “DTV tuners” and never “HD tuners”: They only provide 480i output, over NTSC RF (a la Ch. 3/4) and NTSC composite (the “yellow” wire), with some providing s-video (which is also 480i). If you tune an HD ATSC channel with one of these, the box will down-convert it to be 480i. Of course, it generally looks and sounds better than analog SD, just like SD DVD looks and sounds better than many preceeding technologies.

    If you have a DVD recorder or (gasp) VHS VCR made after 2007, this will have an ATSC tuner with the same restrictions (480i down-res, even if the DVD recorder has “HDMI upscaling”).

    Now, before ATSC tuners were commonplace in all new TVs, there were standalone ATSC tuner boxes which definitely do HD output, and some of these have HDMI or DVI in addition to component analog. Some of these can still be bought, and there are actually new tuner boxes that have HD output, but they are relatively rare.

    The KWorld box at mentioned above is one of these rare HD-enabled boxes, and not one of the coupon-eligible “converter” boxes. Hope that clears up any confusion.

      • If only 3 people do it then there isn’t enough demand to warrant doing anything about it. I’d also like to see OTA available, but for the minor use I get out of it (NFL football) I’m not going to worry about it too much.


    • TrackRabbit

      I use over the air, love it too. Rich and crispy HD channels for free, duh, who wouldn’t use this. I also use a ps3 to watch blu ray, and stream netflix. A coax connection would be simple and appreciated. Oh, and I’m not 100 years old either.

    • Joey
      Gee thanks Joey! I also use over the air and Netflix and Hulu Plus not interested in Cable thanks! Thanks for the Zink and Laptop tip but I was just looking for box to add to my TV not a Command Control Center.
      Also your caps lock is on and it sounds like you need a nap.

    • gonzo90017

      Well if you did that then why the hell would you need Google TV then? I built and HTPC where I have a nice frontend setup which gives me access to my local content (movies, cartoons etc), Zinc, and Windows Media Center. I have 2 OTA dual tuners which means I can record 4 shows at the same time. Which means I have no need for Hulu Plus since ALL of their content is stuff you can get OTA.

  11. Seems like they should just integrate an OTA tuner into the Revue. Add a coax jack and allow people to hook up an antenna if they desire… then the box is capable of connecting to both local and online content (and it gives you something to watch if your network’s out).

  12. You are simply wrong: as a harmony-remote technology based device, Revue can flip the channels of your TV with ease, and I bet it can show the menu for you. So it can do just as much as it does for the cable companies. Your TV already has the tuner, and will be getting the signal directly, so what’s the problem?

    • Harmony may be able to change the channels, but it won’t be able to display any web content or EPG together with OTA TV content.TVs have those on different inputs, and the best remote control technology in the world can’t make up for the fact that your TV won’t simultaneously display content from one of its HDMI inputs and its ATSC tuner.

      • Buy a tuner then, if you want to take advantage of the Google TV box. What’s the problem? Not sure what’s lost: if EPG will be displayed without the OTA TV content overlay, and you can switch to the channel with one click on the remote, it is still more than having no EPG at all with OTA TV. :)

  13. I think what they meant by Hulu is thhe app and UI integrated version whhich they have to negociate for. Obviously the browser based is going to work just as well as on your computer. That’s the whole point of including a full web browser and full flash support! Basically this means it supports 100% of all videos you can find on the web.

    The trick is to provide a lean back optimized UI to access 100% of all web videos in full screen. I think even third party apps can be added to adapt lean back UIs to control any web video contents.

    There is no way for content distributors to exclude Google TV, if they broadcast online, it will work on Google TV no matter how many ad or paywalls there might be, if they broadcast on cable/satellite and over the air, Google TV will provide a full layer of interactivity and search on top of it.

    The legallity of Google providing online DVR functions for all chnnels or overlayed ads on top of third party contents without consent, it’s to be seen.

    • No, we are talking about Hulu in the browser. currently blocks access from Google TV devices, as demonstrated in the video. Yes, there might eventually be ways around it, but as of now, the Logitech Revue is not able to access Hulu.

      • Changing browser user agent to normal Chrome would be a piece of cake. So if insists, users will find ways around it easily. Hulu cannot detect that their website is accessed using Google TV box vs any normal web browser.

      • Charbax, Hulu Plus is not the same as the regular Device makers that carry Hulu Plus have agreements with Huu, and they get a different set of content. In some cases it’s more (whole seasons of some shows), but in many cases it’s less (many shows are not available at all through Hulu Plus-enabled devices).

  14. You seem to be obsessed with the OTA TV thing. Couldn’t you just get an external HDTV receiver and plug it in? They sell them at the local drugstore for $40.