I just got back from Logitech’s Google TV 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 Hulu.com 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 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 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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