When Google unveiled Google TV at its I/O event in May, it sparked several questions that went unanswered for a long time.
The Google-watching crowd knew the service would marry channel surfing and Web surfing, powered by Google’s Android operating system and Google’s Chrome Web browser.
The public also learned that Google TV would run on Sony Internet TVs and Logitech companion boxes, both powered by Intel processors. Finally, a fall launch date was promised.
Fall is here, and Logitech was the first to announce its Revue companion box and wireless keyboard controller for $299.
The Revue includes the Intel chip and Android OS, as well as Logitech’s Harmony Link technology to “talk” to the Keyboard Controller and control the consumer’s TV, set-top box and AV receiver.
Here are 10 key things we learned from the event that consumers may want to be aware of when considering the service.
Logitech Revue requires HDTV with HDMI-in high-speed Internet access and a cable or satellite set-top box with HDMI-out. Users will connect the Revue box to their HDTV with the HDMI cable. Then they must connect a separate HDMI cable between the Logitech Revue and their cable or satellite provider box with HDMI-out.
2) Three Controls
In addition to the Keyboard Controller, which resembles a PC keyboard in size and functionality, Logitech is offering a Mini Controller, a palm-sized device that measures 6 inches long by 3.5 inches wide. The gadget also sports illuminated keys that change color: green for navigation, orange for typing and pointing.
3) What About the Third Control?!
Wait a minute, you said there were three controls. We did and there are, and you might already own the third one. Android and iPhone smartphone users can use their handsets to control Google TV thanks to Harmony Link.
Logitech has written two apps-one for Android market and one for the iTunes App Store-that users can download for free. The Logitech Harmony smartphone app “talks” to the internal Harmony Link.
4) About That Smartphone-Google TV Connection
Navigating Google TV from a smartphone rather than with a controller that sports a full QWERTY keyboard and directional pad might not seem appealing. That’s why Logitech has designed its apps to be voice-search enabled, so users who search for a program can simply speak the name of the show into their phone’s microphone to manage content on Google TV.
5) Fling Content While on the Go
Moreover, users can also watch content-such as a TV program or a YouTube video-on their Harmony-connected smartphone and “fling” it to their Google TV at home to continue watching. Talk about station to station.
6) Dish Deal
Logitech Revue will recognize content from any cable/satellite provider. However, Logitech and Dish Network struck a deal to enable content from Dish Network to get surfaced in Google TV search results. Dish satellite subscribers will find that the content they recorded on their Dish DVR will show up in their Google TV search results.
7) No Hulu For You-you
Want Hulu on Google TV? No dice, said Logitech executive vice president Junien Labrousse, who added that Hulu is blocking its content from Google TV-at least for now. Talks between Google and Hulu are ongoing, he said.
8) Google TV Search
Google TV has its own special brand of search, called Google TV Search, to surface TV content, confirmed Jill Szuchmacher, business development lead for Google TV. The Google Watch blog will look at this more fully soon.
The Logitech Revue box is available for preorder now from Logitech.com, Amazon.com and Best Buy.com, with availability expected by October 31. It will also be available in Best Buy stores around that same time.
10) Sony’s Turn
Sony Oct. 12 is expected to unveil its line of Internet TVs at an event in New York City. We will be there, but early pricing detection doesn’t bode well for the sets, which NewTeeVee said are expected to cost from $1,299.99 for a 32-inch screen set to $1,499.99 and $1,899.99 for 40-inch and 46-inch sets, respectively.