Good for Logitech.
The maker of the $300 Revue companion box that serves Google TV has come out swinging verus the media to refute the Digitimes report that it had asked Gigabyte Technology to halt sending new appliances so that Google can upgrade the product.
Logitech's rationale is that they would have no need to request a stay on new components because the Google TV upgrades are delivered over the air, the same way software updates are sent to Android phones.
This is appropriate because, well, Google TV is fueled by Android. But Logitech had to know that there are a couple reasons for concern.
First, the report doesn't come from nowhere. Earlier this month, word came from The New York Timesthat Google allegedly asked TV set makers to refrain from launching Google TV sets at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show next month so that it can boost the software.
Second, Logitech itself erred when it initially declined to comment on the situation to Cnet. This had to fuel the speculation in the where-there's-smoke-there's-fire vein.
Then they realized this would simply not go away for a media contingent that is dead set against Google TV, mostly for the cost, and somewhat for the beta-like feel of the service.
Ashish Arora, vice president and general manager, Logitech's Digital Home Group, said he couldn't ignore the "puzzling speculation that Google has asked Logitech to suspend production of Logitech Revue to address software issues, adding:
"Those familiar with our product know that we don't need to modify the Logitech Revue box to deliver software enhancements. Each of our customers will receive periodic over-the-air updates whenever Google and Logitech release changes to the Google TV platform. Logitech Revue boxes purchased at launch in October, as a holiday gift in December or to follow basketball in the spring, will all be the same and will all benefit from the same software updates."
I can personally vouch for this. I received a Logitech Revue review device in mid-October. My family and I enjoyed it so much that we requested it as a Christmas gift and, to our delight, received it Dec. 25.
On Dec. 27, I unplugged the test box, a began configuring the new gift device. Around step 5 or so, I received a notice that upgrades were available and that they would take 10 to 15 minutes to download.
So I clicked okay and the upgrades came in 10 minutes, including an improved, movable dual view, and an excellent Netflix app that has all the fixings the original dumb media server Netflix app Google TV foisted on us.
I also found the Google TV search functionality greatly improved and, the service faster overall.
In fact, it was not unlike receiving an upgrade to my Motorola Droid X smartphone. Sure it's a pain when the device goes slow from upgrades, but it ultimately ends up a superior upgrade for the consumer in the end.
Logitech's over-the-air claim has validity and it's consistent with Google's pledge at launch.
And yet.. there isn't any proof that Google, reeling from the harsh criticism of the product -- Walt Mossberg called it a poor, geek product -- hasn't asked hardware makers to slow down production to deploy the upgrades before people turn on the service.
Is this possible? Sure. Likely? I doubt it. The product isn't as deficient as to warrant a cessation of hardware manufacturing. That's crazy.
It's important, after receiving the body blows from critics, that Google get better reception -- no pun intended -- for Google TV before it's too late.
It has invested too much money to let the product languish and if people like Mossberg and keep shoveling dirt on the product, it will cease breathing.
And that would be a shame, literally like throwing the baby out with the bath water. Are there bugs? Yes. Is it slow and halting at times? Absolutely.
But ultimately, it has a great Netflix app and YouTube Leanback is a great application for the whole family. Both take care of movie and music entertainment needs.
An don't listen to people that say you can't operate the Google TV Chrome Web browser for work or play easily enough. I call utter bullshit there.
I would agree the box should receive upgrades to the latest Chrome browser every month, but the browser in tandem with the Logitech keyboard controller is just fine for now.
But don't take it from me; hear it from the horse's mouth. Logitech's Arora noted that:
"Logitech and Google continue to have a collaborative, effective working relationship as we listen to consumer feedback and work together on enhancements to the Google TV platform. We at Logitech are enthusiastic about Google TV and our role in bringing this new platform to U.S. consumers."
Is that PR speak? Of the first-rate kind. But I believe Logitech and Google believe it, so I'm okay with that for now. Besides, I love the service as is and if I had not received the Revue as a gift, I would have personally picked one up at Best Buy next week.
Finally, Arora, said Logitech's Revue team will be heading to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week "where we look forward to demonstrating how Google TV is transforming the TV-watching experience."
I wouldn't call it that transformative, but Google TV on the Revue is darn good, even as young as it is.