NEW YORK-Logitech officials Oct. 6 showed off Google TV on its Revue companion box and keyboard controller, which the peripherals maker began letting consumers preorder from Logitech.com, Amazon.com and BestBuy.com for $299.
Announced in May at Google I/O, Google TV is the search engine’s entry into a largely stagnant market that has attempted to wed the channel surfing and Web surfing experience.
Microsoft and Apple have tried and failed in the last decade to make the services stick with consumers. Google believes its service is seamless, as it blends Web services with TV content without disrupting the user experience.
Google TV is based on Android 2.1 and serves Web applications such as Netflix, YouTube and Twitter through Google Chrome 5, the company’s Web browser. See images of the service here.
Google TV is available in two primary ways. First, the service is available in Logitech’s Revue, a plug-and-play companion box, that should arrive by Oct. 31 for those who order it now. Second, Google TV will also be available in Sony Internet TVs, which the set maker will unveil Oct. 12 in New York.
Both methods require a broadband connection. Users must connect the Revue box to their HDTV with the included high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) cable and then connect another HDMI cable between the Logitech Revue and their cable or satellite provider box with HDMI out .
Users will plug in the system and follow the directions on the TV screen to set up Google TV.
The Google TV menu should display preloaded Google TV and Logitech applications forged from partnerships Google announced Oct. 4 with Turner Broadcasting, NBC Universal, HBO, Amazon, Netflix and Twitter, among others.
Logitech’s Harmony Link technology will ensure that the Logitech Keyboard Controller, which resembles a computer keyboard in many ways, and the Revue box will seamlessly enable channel surfing and Web navigation on the connected TV.
Logitech Offers TV Cam and HD Calling
In a demo onstage here in Chinatown , Kevin Simon, director of product marketing in the digital home group at Logitech, showed the cramped crowd of media how to search for content with the controller, which has a touch pad, directional pad and buttons to control the A/V receiver TV and digital videorecorder.
Simon used the controller to switch to dual-view mode to split his viewing between a TV program and the Web. He also showed off several of the applications preloaded on the Revue.
The Logitech Media Player lets users view personal photos, downloaded music files and home videos stored on a USB drive or a DLNA- certified media server.
Simon also demonstrated how to access Google TV from his phone, “flinging” video from YouTube to Google TV in seconds.
These capabilities are enabled by the free Logitech Harmony for Android and the Logitech Harmony for Android applications, which can be used to turn on the television, cable/satellite box, and A/V receiver, as well as navigate TV content and apps.
Simon also unveiled the palm-sized Logitech Mini Controller, which provides the same control and navigation as the keyboard controller for the Revue but measures 6 inches by 3.5 inches. This hardware costs $129.
The new Logitech TV Cam, which connects to the Revue via a USB cable, and its Vid HD service provide high-definition video calling through Google TV. This gadget will cost $149.99.
Glen Kuo, global product marketing manager for Logitech, demonstrated a video call between the Google TV-enabled TV on stage and his colleagues in a loft in New York, splitting the screen to show his colleagues and the media audience they could see at Logitech’s launch event.
The video was crisp (supports up to 720p), although the sound was spotty despite the fact that the TV cam includes two directional microphones to reduce noise and echoes.
One final note: Logitech Revue with Google TV and accessories will also be offered to DISH Network customers.