When Google announced the Google TV platform, and then Logitech followed shortly with the news of a stand-alone device, the Revue, for that platform, there were many people who thought we may be witnessing a paradigm-changing development in the internet-connected living room. Google has that effect on things.
That change is still happening, but largely without Google or Logitech. Less than one year ago, both the platform and the device were met by reviewers with lukewarm enthusiasm. Even my own experiences with the product were mixed, and I’m pretty forgiving. I really liked the concept, and some things about the interface, but overall the implementation was kludgy , and the device was expensive at $300.
Then came the January 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, and Google TV was a lot harder to find than originally expected.
Then this spring Logitech dropped the price from $300 to $200. Now, on the heals of some poor revenue performance and the resignation of the CEO, the Revue has been price-slashed again to $99.
At that price the Revue is now competitive with what I believe is its biggest rivals, Roku and AppleTV. Having spent a lot of time with both, I still find the Roku a superior product for most audio and video streaming (and the new one looks to be better yet). Revue has a few things the Roku lacks, like a keyboard and web browser, but it’s not nearly as buggy and is very easy to use.
And still we’re left with the question of where the smart TV or other internet-connected devices fit in the long run? Any television from the mid-level lines up comes with some form of online connectivity. Samsung appears to be leading the pack with its vast app marketplace, though LG, Toshiba, Sharp, Panasonic, Sony and Vizio all have healthy online options on many models. To make it even more complicated, more cable set-top-boxes are offering similar online options. Case-in-point: Verizon just announced that it is adding Pandora to select set-top-boxes for its FiOS customers (yay me).
So is the future of the smart living room going to be 25 different platforms all attempting to corral our attention with essentially the same core apps (Pandora, Netflix, weather, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Angry Birds…)? A typical home A/V system might contain six or more online devices (set-top-box, TV, Blu-ray player, game system, receiver, cable box) all capable of playing the same things . This makes it easy for a non-connected living room to upgrade—purchase just about anything and it will include Wi-Fi or an Ethernet jack. But it’s got to be a nightmare for app developers as well as a huge bandwidth suck to have so many things plugged in (subject for another rant on another day).
I recently went into my router’s menu and was surprised at how many items I saw connected to it (of course, as a product reviewer, my usage patterns are a little different from most people).
Anyway, back to my original question: is $99 a good deal for the Logitech Revue or should Logitech just move on?
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.