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Logitech revue review

Discussion in 'Logitech Revue' started by Rickaren, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. Rickaren

    Rickaren New Member Staff Member

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    HTF REVIEW: Logitech Revue with Google TV




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    LOGITECH REVUE REVIEW​
    by Ronald Epstein
    February, 2011
    Google TV Announced
    The announcement came in the form of a press release on May 20th, 2010: "Industry Leaders Announce Open Platform to bring Web to TV." What was being introduced was a partnership from leading industry players in the development of Google TV, a service based on the Android platform that runs Google Chrome. Its promise was to allow users to "access all of their usual TV channels as well as a world of Internet and cloud-based information and applications, including rich Adobe Flash based content -- all from the comfort of their own living room and with the same simplicity as browsing the web." With a partnership of hardware manufacturers such as Intel, Sony, Adobe, Dish Network and Logitech coming to together on this project it seemed like something rather "revolutionary" was in the works.​
    What interested me most about Google TV was the fact that Logitech was involved. Here is a company whose products I have spent quite a few hard-earned dollars on over the past decade. I have owned just about everything that company has put out including the diNovo Keyboard, MX Mouse, Webcams, Quickcams, and even various Harmony Remotes. I have always known Logitech to make very solid and dependable product and to know that they were getting themselves involved in ushering in a new category of devices for the living room seemed to be something I needed to be part of.​
    Logitech began shipping out their Controller Box in late October with a promise to provide 500,00 units by the end of December. That's a huge amount of optimism for a first generation product. Initial reviews that surfaced shortly after its introduction were not particularly kind. Many reported that the controller units were not yet ready for prime-time, filled with various bugs and a user experience that was far from optimal. ​
    Nevertheless, I contacted Logitech a few months ago asking if they would send out their Logitech Revue to me so that I might try it for myself and offer my own review for Home Theater Forum. It took about two months for them to ship me a unit, which in hindsight is probably a good thing. From my understanding, Logitech has been working hard to tweak their units and platform further and I was anticipating that I would be receiving product that might be more functional than the initial units that were reviewed. ​
    Logitech Revue Hardware
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    Logitech sent me a reviewer's package that consisted of their Logitech Revue Controller Box ($299) and their HDTV Widescreen TV Cam ($149). They also arranged to have Dish Network come to my home and install their services. I want to say right off the the bat that I am extremely impressed with my dealings with the folks at Dish Network. Very professional organization who called me at home multiple times to assure me of my appointment and their arrival status. When they arrived, the installed did an exceptional job with the dish and cable installation making certain that everything looked neat. There were even follow-up calls from the company to make certain that I was satisfied. I mention this because I am a current subscriber of Verizon Fiso and former subscriber of DirecTV and I have never seen this level of personable experience form either company.​
    If you want to read something rather fascinating about the Logitech Revue Controller Box, I urge you to take a look at the dissection done by the folks at ifixit. The controller box is essentially a 1.2GHz Intel CE4100 atom-based media chip with 1GB or DDR3 memory and 5GB storage. The technology has been deemed to be on par with netbooks that are now 2-years old.​
    Inside the box alongside the controller you will find all the necessary hardware you will need for hookup. This includes power brick and plug as well as HDMI cable. Additionally, Logitech has provided an IR blaster in case the built-in emitters do not work. There is no ethernet cable provided. An ethernet connection is optional as the controller box also supports WiFi connectivity.

    SOURCE

     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  2. Rickaren

    Rickaren New Member Staff Member

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    The controller box has a nice glossy black finish across the top that is prone to fingerprint retention. The front of the unit has two small LED lights and is absent of any sort of buttons whatsoever. There is no power button as the unit always remains on. The back of the unit has connections that include HDMI IN and OUT, Ethernet, optical output, IR blaster outputs, bluetooth pairing button and 2 USB outputs. ​
    The Revue also comes with a full-sized keyboard with batteries already installed. I think most people will be rather amazed at how lightweight and thin the keyboard actually is (without seeming overly fragile). The keys have a nice tactile feel to them, though more of a "mushy" feel than what you would expect on a desktop keyboard. A trackpad takes the place of a mouse and allows for 2-finger scrolling. You can also use the PAGE UP and PAGE DOWN buttons to scroll through content without losing any page information. Since using the left mouse click button beneath the trackpad doesn't always feel ergonomically correct, Logitech has placed an additional button in the upper left corner of the screen that allows you to do simple left mouse clicks. Because Harmony Link Technology is embedded in Logitech Review you can seamlessly control various devices with power buttons that are located across the top of the keyboard as well as keys to control playback and recording of your DVR, though some functions are restricted to Dish Network equipment. You can control the volume on your display or A/V receiver as well as change channels using keyboard buttons. The biggest complaint anyone will have about the keyboard itself is the lack of backlighting. I did this review in a totally darkened room and it was rather difficult for my fingers to find their way around the keyboard. ​
    Click Here to see the Video Diary: INTRODUCTION


    Setup
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    Logitech promises the entire initial setup process to be about 20 minutes. This is more or less accurate depending on how easily the user understands the setup process and how much time it takes to update the software which is dependent on the user's internet connection speed. I think most everyone will have very little problem with the initial setup process. I was able to do it in under 15 minutes.​
    The initial steps involve turning on your keyboard and maximizing your display screen by using the arrow keys to fill a black box to the borders of the screen. This ensures that your menu and browser fits perfectly within your display without disappearing beyond its boundaries. Next, your system will check for a wired or wireless connection followed by the download of software updates currently available. ​
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    The next step involves logging into your Google account. Don't have one? That's not a problem. You can easily create an account in mere minutes. Next, you will be asked to enter your local zip code so that you are provided with accurate programming information for your area. Your Logitech controller box should now be communicating with your set top box which is confirmed with a live TV signal showing up in a small window. Once the process is complete your Revue unit can now change TV channels, access the program guide and DVR (if available)​
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    The next steps involve pairing your Logitech keyboard with your individual components. This is an extremely simple process that involves the user inputting the model number of their display and audio/video receiver. The model number is checked against Logitech's online database and the remote codes are automatically paired between keyboard and device. For anyone that owns a Logitech remote and has programmed it through their computer, the process is somewhat similar. Once you pair your components you have the ability to power your devices on and off as well as control the channels and volume using the keyboard. ​
    Click Here to watch the Video Diary: INITIAL SETUP AND WALKTHROUGH
    Google TV In Action
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    So, there you are, sitting in on your couch with your Logitech keyboard in your lap, just having completed the initial setup. ​
    The first screen that you will arrive at is the HOME screen. This is the screen that will act as your home base and is easily accessible from within any application within Logitech Revue simply by hitting the HOME key which looks like a small house. ​
    The first thing you might want to do is to search for content related to a favorite television show or sports team. Whatever it is you are searching for you need only to press the magnifying glass keyboard key to bring up a search bar at the top of the screen. Type in what you are looking for, press ENTER, and Google TV searches across the Internet, all programming guides, including any HDMI-enabled DVD to bring you results. The only difference in not using DISH as a cable provider, is that the search will not yield results from one's DVR in the integrated search findings. You can access your recorded content, however, from any DVD by simply pushing the DVR button on the Logitech Keyboard.​
    In the example photos above I did a search for the television show, "The Office." My search yielded several results across the program guide, Internet and my DVR. For example, I was able to see a list of upcoming episodes due to air on NBC that I could schedule my DVR to record with a single key press. I was also able to see a list of episodes to watch via Netflix and Amazon on Demand. Finally, I was given a list of clips that were available on various video services including YouTube, Spike TV and Vimeo. The playback of web videos was absolutely fluent without any hiccups whatsoever though the overall quality varied from amazingly clear to blurry and blocky. The quality of video depends squarely on the source and playback resolution. I would have preferred that the video content would default to full screen (you need to move the cursor to the full screen option on the webpage), but overall, was quite pleased by the quality of the high definition content and the fact there was no stutter.​
    Some searches led us to sites that actually blocked content. Currently these include NBC, ABC, FOX, DISNEY and HULU. We are hoping that GoogleTV works out content restrictions with the networks. ​
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    So, having just watched a few clips of "The Office" I decided I wanted to search for full episodes to watch. The search results brought up a grid listing every episode that was currently available with icons indicating whether it was available on broadcast, web or pay video (such as Amazon on Demand). You can see in the above photo that the episode "Goodbye Toby" was scheduled to run on broadcast TV. I selected that episode and with an additional button click, told my Dish Network DVR to record that episode (or all future airings of the show). ​

     
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  3. Rickaren

    Rickaren New Member Staff Member

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    Click Here to watch the Video Diary: SEARCHING CONTENT
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    My next step was to visit my favorite website, hometheaterforum.com. By typing the URL into the search box I was brought directly to the webpage.​
    There is no mouse at use here. As you slide your finger across the trackpad a cursor can be visibly seen moving across the screen. Small buttons beneath the trackpad enable left and right clicks. To make the left click process simpler, Logitech has placed a left-click MOUSE button at the upper left corner of the screen. Simply move the cursor to the content you wish to select and press the mouse button.​
    Searching and browsing the web using the embedded Google Chrome browser is no different than the desktop or laptop experience other than the fact that you are doing it on a much larger display. ​
    There are several ways to scroll content using the Logitech keyboard. One involves a two-finger scroll across the trackpad, the other is by using the PAGE UP and PAGE DOWN keys. I found using the keyboard to be enjoyable, but it does come with its share of quirks. First, it's not backlit. Since I watch television in a totally darkened room, it was sometimes difficult to find specific keys -- and this is from someone that can type without looking at the keyboard. There are no sensory markers on the F and J keys (as all keyboards usually have) which immediately tell you where to place your fingers. The other problem is that the keyboard is so lightweight that it tends to wobble if it is not completely centered across your lap. ​
    Viewing webpage content on a large display was outstanding. My seating area is about 8-9' away from my 60" display. From that distance I was easily able to read the crisply defined text on the webpage. I never once had to squint to read fine print. The keyboard has a magnifying tool that allows you to zoom in and out of content but it doesn't work as well than if Logitech had incorporated pinch technology into their trackpad.​
    You can even watch television while you surf. By selecting the dual-mode button on the keyboard I can place the current televised content in a small window at the corner of the screen while I browse the Internet. Note that the televised window cannot be resized or moved.​
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    Webpage load times were acceptable for the technology. My ISP connection through Verizon Fios is rated at 40 megabits. That's far faster than most. On my iMac i7 desktop a webpage will load in under 5 seconds. The Logitech Revue will load pages at an average of a little over 10 seconds. I expect it will be longer with slower megabit connections. I was not particularly bothered by the difference in loading times. I still found surfing the Internet to be a fairly smooth process without slowdown. The only time I did feel strain on the system was when I had a TV window open in the corner and was trying to load web content in the browser. You can see an error message that I received at one point while trying to multitask. This error message was not common but it did raise concerns over how far I could push the hardware's limited resources before it would crash.​
    One additional bug that we found was that the screen suddenly resized itself. We had to go in to settings and resize the screen for our display.​
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    The Google Chrome browser does support bookmarking and tabbed browsing, but sadly the process is not as cut-and-dry as it would be on the PC. You can create a BOOKMARK from any page that you are currently on simply by pressing the STAR key on the Logitech keyboard. This places a window that can easily be accessed from your HOME screen. The downside is that is there no immediate access to your bookmarks unless you go back HOME. Additionally, I can see the home screen becoming quite cluttered with webpage bookmarks in a very short period of time. Seems easier if Logitech had created some sort of bookmark list that would be neater and more readably accessed. TABBED browsing can be achieved by pressing the MENU button and selecting NEW TAB. To switch between multiple windows you simply press CTRL+TAB to move between windows (as shown in bottom photo). ​
    If you are looking for some neat Google Chrome keyboard shortcuts we found a site that has compiled a list of the most current ones.​
    Click Here to watch the Video Diary: SEARCH, WATCH, BOOKMARK
    Applications and Spotlight
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    One thing you can say about Google TV is that there is always enough ever-changing content to keep one occupied for long periods of time. There is a wealth of information at your fingertips that include newspapers, radio, music videos, movies-on-demand, sports scores, stock quotes and video clips from a variety of web sources.​

    The photos above show you the full list of APPLICATIONS that are currently available as of the writing of this review. I want to note that whenever you return HOME from any application you are in, a ghost-image underlay remains of that last activity. This is what you are faintly seeing in the background of the menu photos above.

    APPLICATIONS seem to be the weakest aspect of Google TV. Now 3 months after launch I would hoped that the selection of apps would have been widely expanded, for what we have here is really of limited interest. What's more troublesome is what is NOT here rather than what is. I will talk about that in a moment.​



    SOURCE


     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 30, 2014
  4. Rickaren

    Rickaren New Member Staff Member

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    CNBC Real-Time provides the most accurate real-time stock quotes available with data directly from the NYSE and NASDAQ exchanges. Users can create personalized watch lists and track the stocks that matter most to them. The service provides select CNBC program as well as information driving their stocks today.​
    Google Chrome simply brings you to the Google Chrome browser​
    Logitech Vid HD when used in conjunction with the video camera allows you to make video phone calls. We will be testing this later in this review.​
    Napster connects you to their paid music service where you have a choice of 11 million full-length songs as your disposal.​
    Pandora is a free/subscription service that allows you to create specialized radio stations suited to your own taste.​
    NBA Game Time gives you instant access to the most current game scores, standings and video highlights. This is a great app to use with the dual-mode/picture-in-picture option that places the actual broadcast game in the corner of your screen while you surf the NBA application for scores and standings.​
    Netflix gives me access to subscription movie and television streaming. It took a mere minute after launch to log onto my current Netflix account. The Network interface is better than most other devices I have seen it on, though Apple TV still rules as having the best GUI of them all. That being said, I had no problem finding content and the quality of streaming was on par with what I have seen elsewhere.​
    Logging into the Twitter social networking interface immediately gave us scrolling access to the latest tweets.​
    For the most part, these applications are interesting, but what is glaringly missing here are WIDGETS and and EMAIL application. How great it would be to bring up a set of widgets that give you local weather forecast or traffic conditions? How about a GMAIL application built specifically and optimized for Google TV? Yes, you can certainly look up weather or traffic on the Internet. Yes, you can bookmark GMAIL website to access from the HOME page. However, people strive to have information at their fingertips that are easily accessible. I sort of get the feeling that over the course of the year far more applications will be added to fulfill what seems to be a void in providing anything really useful to a wider audience of users.​
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    Gallery connects your Google TV to your Picasa online account so you can look at your personal photos across your display. Initially, I had problems getting the gallery to synch with my free Picasa account. I found after some research that you need to create a Picasa account first before trying to connecting to your Google Account on your Revue unit. After doing a hardware reset I created an account online and then was easily able to sync to it via Google TV. Images looked very clear on my 60" display and using the keyboard was able to move from one photo to another.​
    Logitech Media Player connects to your home network and allows you to access your media folders inside your PC such as music, photos and movies. You can also insert a USB stick and access the same content. I had an awful time getting the online interactivity to work. There was no problem with Media Player finding the network. I even was able to access my iTunes library on my iMac. However, I received consistent error messages when selecting music from my playlists. Doing some research, I found many similar complaints from MAC users so I am guessing at this time it is an unresolved problem.​
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    Spotlight is an earnest attempt to bring different types of entertainment and news to your display -- fully optimized for Google TV to give the best browsing experience. I would suspect this is where most people are going to spend the most time investigating Google TV content. ​
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    There is much to see here, though some of it is limited to subscriber content such as HBO GO which allows current HBO subscribers to watch HD content on demand such as Boardwalk Empire, True Blood, Real Time with Bill Maher and Big Love.You can also watch current films airing on the network such as Avatar and Clash of the Titans. As an HBO subscriber I found this to be my favorite Spotlight feature. ​
    But fret not, there is plenty of free content to browse through here. For news, CNN presents you with the latest news highlights, video clips and iReports. Head on over to USA TODAY to read the online version of the newspaper which is continually updated 24/7. If you would like to sit back and listen to music, I found TuneIn Radio! to have a sizable selection of Internet radio stations, all broken down by genres that include rock, classical, decades, sports, talk and podcasts (to name a few). You can also log onto their website and create presets to their GoogleTV accounts. If Music videos are what you are after, I found VEVO to be a wonderful throwback to MTV with a wide selection of music videos that cross a wide variety of musical tastes. For just videos, nothing beats YouTube or Vimeo for the most content to be found anywhere. ​
    YouTube has introduced a "lean back" feature that turns search results into video thumbnails and plays them back full screen without having to do any manual adjusting. I really like the concept and will continue to use that option over accessing it from the YouTube webpage and then adjusting the size manually.​
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    Very useful here is your QUEUE that gathers endless content from across the web and puts them all in one place. For instance, you can search for and subscribe to Podcasts. When new podcasts become available your queue will update. You can search for and subscribe to television shows, and when new episodes are available your queue will update. When you find a particular website you like, click on the RSS feed button in the address bar and whenever new content is available your queue will update. You will notice in the above photo that the queue is showing DVR content update, two new episodes of "The Office" for which I had subscribed to.​
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    If you don't have your mind set on anything in particular you can browse programming currently available for viewing via Whats On. Programming is broken down into specific categories. When selecting MOVIES, for instance, you are given a list of what is currently showing across the programming guide, the channel and remaining time left. By clicking on the title you are taken directly to the channel. Please be aware that this feature may have restrictions outside of its use with a Dish Network set top box. ​
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    Google TV has partnered with Amazon Video On Demand to provide access to thousands of movies and television shows. Here you will find more recently released film titles -- the ones shown in the pictures above were just released to home video within the last two months as of the writing of this review. Most first-run features cost $3.99 for a 48 hour viewing period. Older films seem to be priced at $2.99 and below with television shows at 99 cents. ​
    For those that wish to customize the list of APPLICATIONS that are shown, you can easily do do within the SETTINGS area. The list of SPOTLIGHT sites cannot be edited.





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    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 30, 2014
  5. Rickaren

    Rickaren New Member Staff Member

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    Click Here to watch the Video Diary: APPLICATIONS AND SPOTLIGHT
    Logitech TV Cam
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    If you are going to spend the money on the Logitech Revue Controller Box it's sort of a no-brainer to spend the extra $150 for the Logitech TV Cam. This 720p HD widescreen camera allows you to make and accept video calls with friends and family with no extra fees involved.​
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    This is truly a plug-and-play device that took less than 8 minutes to setup from connect to making/receiving our first video call. You simply connect the USB plug to the back of the Logitech Revue controller box. 5' of cable is already included and if that's not long enough, there's a 6' extension also enclosed. The rear of the camera has a folding bracket that allows you to mount the camera firmly against the frame of the display. ​
    Next step is to turn on the display and adjust your widescreen HD camera so that it captures just the right amount of viewing area. Speaking of viewing area, the widescreen aspect ratio of the camera really opens up the viewing field. Your keyboard allows you to zoom the lens in and out for close-ups.​
    The next step involves creating a user account followed by the option to take a picture of yourself so that you are easily identified by those who will be placing a call to you. That's it....you are now ready to make and receive calls.​
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    As far as your friends and family are concerned, all they need to do is to download the HD Vid software from the Logitech website. The software is compatible with Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP and Mac OS X. After your friends register for a free account they will be ready to connect to you by entering your email address.​
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    To test out the video calling capabilities of the Logitech HD Video Cam I asked HTF co-owner Adam Gregorich to take part in a video call with me. The call began with a ringing sound alerting me of the call. Upon accepting, Adam's image appeared in a large box on my screen while the image he was seeing of me appeared in a smaller one alongside it.​
    The quality of the video and audio was outstanding. He first called me on a wireless connection that caused stuttering and hiccups in the feed. However, once he switched over to a wired connection the call produced no ill side effects. You can see the call that we made in the video diary I am attaching to this review. ​
    I have not tested this, but it is my understanding that video calls are able to be received while you are watching television. So, you may find yourself on the couch watching a program when suddenly you get a video call from Mom who wants to say hello. I find that prospect rather neat.​
    Click Here to watch the Video Diary: LOGITECH VIDEO CAM
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    Being an iPhone owner I was excited to learn at the end of this review that I would be able to use my iPhone to completely control my Google TV with the use of a free Logitech Harmony App available from the iTunes store. This app is also available for Android Smartphones. Once you install the app, it seeks your WiFi home network and discovers your controller box plugged into it. From there you are asked to pair it to your display via a code. Once completely set up you can push one button on your iPhone to turn on your devices and then have most of the functionalities you would have with the keyboard including volume and control of video playback. You can even type using your iPhone's built-in keyboard. ​
    Final Thoughts
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    This evening I was sitting in front of my large, widescreen display with keyboard in my lap, watching the AFC Championship game as I posted to Facebook how cool it was to be doing all these activities from the comfort of my couch. It was really at that moment that I realized how much I was enjoying the Google TV experience through the Logitech Revue. This seems to be a solid product choice for anyone looking to get in on the ground floor of a device that enables you combine Internet and television functionalities. You combine this with the fact that Logitech has created a terrific customer support site here which will give you all the essential information you will need as a new Revue owner. They have support forums full of Revue owners that help answer questions. In other words, you are getting more than just a solid product but active community support to boot.



    I agree with most everyone that the Logitech Revue is seemingly overpriced when considering that its competing against products like Apple TV, which I also own. I give a huge nod to the Logitech Revue for its web functionality using a keyboard, but feel that if it were only priced at $100 less a lot more of these would be sold. Even the Logitech HD Video Cam seems to be overpriced by $50.​
    Notably absent here are a wider selection of applications that would include weather, traffic and even an email interface optimized for the platform. Three months into launch and Google TV really hasn't expanded their choice of applications. It would be great if there would be an online store to search for add-ons that would meet individual needs. Not certain that this could be accomplished since there is no onboard storage device included in the Revue.​
    Still, the positives of the Logitech Revue greatly outweigh the negatives. It would be difficult to call the Logitech Revue "revolutionary" as it seems to be more "evolutionary." Call it a first step towards better products to come that will integrate Internet and television into one. ​
    The bottom line is that this is a really fun device. If you are a Dish Network subscriber, the added value of its integration goes up considerably. If you are not, there is still so much content at your fingertips that using the Revue never becomes a dull moment. ​
    PROS
    * One single request searches across Internet, program guide and (with Dish Network) DVR content to allow instant access to television, web and streaming content. Works very well.​
    * The ability to surf the web while having a television programming displayed in a smaller window.​
    * Effectively streams video from major sites such as YouTube and Vimeo.​
    * Allows for bookmarking and tabbed browsing though not as fluent as done on a PC.​
    * Video chat enables you to make calls to friends and family.​
    * Keyboard acts as a remote that controls your display, A/V receiver and set top box.​
    * iPhone and Android app allows full control of Google TV.​
    * Very enjoyable device to use. ​
    CONS
    * More useful applications need to become available including email optimized for the Google TV platform​
    * Logitech Media Player would not work with Mac iTunes​
    * DVR search and recording only available with the use of Dish Network service. This needs to be expanded.​
    * Some bugs present such as screen suddenly resizing and system crashing during browsing while watching television.​
    * No backlit keyboard. Keyboard has no markers on F and J keys for easy placement of fingers.​
    * Major networks and HULU presently blocking video content.


    SOURCE
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 30, 2014

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