Before we get started, it should be noted that this is strictly a review of the Logitech Revue hardware itself, in addition to what Logitech has brought to the table in terms of unique software. We will be doing a separate review of the Google TV software itself later on in the week, as we felt it necessary to separately critique what Logitech has brought to the table.
Since Google TV was first announced at I/O back in May, I have been eagerly anticipating not just the Google TV software itself, but all of the different hardware and associated peripherals. I have been a Logitech user for over ten years and have always been impressed with the quality of their products, whether it be a keyboard, gaming mouse, PC speaker system, or any of the other Logitech products I’ve owned over the years.
Needless to say, I had a lot of expectations for Logitech’s Google TV product, aka the Revue. So, was Logitech able to live up to the expectations that resulted from years of product use? Continue reading below for our full review of the Logitech Revue.
Initial impressions: unboxing and first glance
Although it is often overlooked, a device’s packaging can actually go a long way in selling a consumer on whatever is contained inside. Like the Revue itself, the packaging is small, yet extremely efficient in both its visual presentation of the contents, and in what the outside conveys in such a limited amount of space.
The front is simple, yet offers enough visual appeal to entice consumers to want to see what is contained inside if they are unfamiliar with the product. The back of the box is also well planned out, offering a plethora of visual representations of what the Revue does, and even showing off some of the associated peripherals (in this case, the TV Cam).
Another pleasant aspect of the packaging is in fact the lack of packaging. Often times, products come encased in over-sized boxes with unnecessary amounts of plastic, foam, or cardboard material. The Revue, on the other hand, was packed in a pretty efficient manner, without a lot of wasted space. From an environmental standpoint, Logitech did a great job at minimizing the amount of materials used in packaging the Revue, which is always welcome to see.
In many ways, the setup experience on a Sony compared a Logitech Google TV device is basically the same, although the Sony products contain only nine steps, versus the twelve required on the Revue. Therefore, we must chalk up the setup experience to the Google TV platform, and not to Sony or Logitech. That being said, perhaps more could have been done by these companies to customize the setup process, making it a bit more automated for users who may find the process of setting up Google TV a bit daunting.
We already featured a step by step walkthrough of the Logitech Revue setup process, which you can read in further detail here (or watch our video embedded below). We will be offering a full critique of the Google TV setup process when we publish our full review of the Google TV platform early next week.
The Revue box itself is beautifully designed, light weight, and features a glossy black finish which is visually appealing, yet subtle enough to not overly draw the eye. The size of the Revue is also a major plus, as it is small and light enough to rest comfortably on top of your cable or satellite provider’s set-top box if you have one, yet is attractive enough that you don’t mind seeing it along with the rest of your entertainment equipment. The back of the unit is also laid out very intelligently, and includes everything you need to get the most out of your Revue. The HDMI in and out ports are spaced apart enough to demonstrate the obvious difference between the two, and to allow adequate space between each cable. Also, the two additional IR ports, along with the two USB ports, provide ample support for connecting additional IR blasters and USB devices such as the TV Cam or a USB storage device.
In terms of the actual guts of the box, the Revue is packing some pretty heavy duty hardware. Here are a few of the most important specs of the Logitech Revue:
- 1.2GHz Intel Atom Z515
- 4GB RAM
- 802.11 n
- HDMA in/out
- 2 USB ports
- Wired ethernet
The keyboard controller that comes with the Revue is very nice to look at, and is a very nice addition to any coffee table. It feels incredibly lightweight to hold, yet doesn’t feel cheap or fragile. The keys themselves take a bit of getting used to, and are unfortunately a little awkward to use at times. I understand Logitech’s desire to keep this keyboard as small as possible, but in all honesty, making it a touch bigger dimensionally would have allowed for a more optimal key spacing, and perhaps space for a few additional dedicated keys. For example, a dedicated key for switching between tabs in Chrome would have been a nice addition. Overall, however, the standard keyboard controller is both stylish and functional, offering a very powerful means of making the most out of the Logitech Revue.
Logitech has also taken the Revue a step further by offering two great optional products, the TV Cam for use with the Vid HD software included on the Revue, and the Mini Controller for a more compact and easy to store means of controlling the Revue. The TV Cam is an USB powered HD camera which is used for video conferencing with friends and family from the comfort of your living room. The camera itself is gorgeous, and should aesthetically match almost any TV. The price is a tad steep at $149.99, but if you are the kind of person who likes to video chat with friends and family, this is a peripheral you definitely want to check out (continue to our software review for more details about Vid HD).
I have not yet received a test unit of the Mini Controller, so I can only speak of my experience using it at the LA Loft Revue kickoff party. This is honestly the Revue accessory that excites me the most, and that’s saying a lot because the experience I’ve had so far with the TV Cam has been excellent. Logitech really did an outstanding job cramming the functionality of the standard keyboard into such a compact device. Years of experiencing texting with cellular QWERTY keyboards made using this thing a breeze, and I can honestly say I would prefer keeping this on my coffee table over the standard controller. Again, the price is a bit steep at $129.99, but this is an optional peripheral, so if you really would rather have a smaller remote to use with your Revue, the option is there for you.
Again, it should be noted that this is NOT a review of the Google TV platform as a whole, but rather the Logitech Revue and what it brings to the table. In terms of Logitech software on the Revue itself, the only two items we have to discuss at this time is the Logitech Media Player, and the Logitech Vid HD video chat software. Logitech is also offering the Harmony remote app, a mobile application for Android and (soon) iPhone which allows you to control Google TV with your mobile device. Logitech also included a Help Assistant on the Revue, which is basically a version of the online support built right onto the Revue. We’ll go over that a bit in the Support portion of this review in a little bit.
The Logitech Media Player is the Revue’s means of accessing your own photo, audio, and video content via a DLNA server on the same network as the Revue, or via USB storage. DLNA stands for Digital Living Network Alliance, which is a standard that electronic devices use to share their content with each other across a home network. To stream content from a PC to your Revue, you must first set up a DLNA server on your desktop or laptop computer, which you can learn more about by reading our how to article for streaming content to the Revue.
The Logitech Media Player itself features a simple, clean interface, which allows the user to easily navigate folders on their DLNA server or USB device, and access all of the following file types:
- Music: AAC (.aac), FLAC (.flac), MP3 (.mp3), OGG (.ogg),WMA (.wma)
- Photos: JPEG (.jpg, .jpeg), BMP (.bmp) PNG (.png), TIFF (.tiff)
- Videos: WMV (VC-1) (.asf .wma .wmv), WMV (VC-1) + WMA (.asf .wma .wmv), WMV + WMA (.avi), Xvid (H-264) + AAC (.avi),
Xvid (H-264) + AAC (.mp4), Xvid (H-264) + AAC (.mt2s .mt2), Xvid (MPEG4part2) + AAC (.avi), Xvid (MPEG4part2) + MP3 (.avi)
Overall, the Logitech Media Player is an excellent addition to the Revue. I tested it fairly extensively and only experienced one fatal crash, and never during the playback of audio or video. Users who may be on the fence about buying a Revue should look to the Media Player as a factor in making their decision.
We received our TV Cam test unit from Logitech last week, and will be publishing our full review of the camera, as well as the Vid HD software, later on in the week. I’ve had a chance to test out the camera several times, including a quick video chat session with New York’s Host with the Most Praneet Kailey. The software is still in its initial release phase, and therefor lacking a few features that will be addressed in future updates. For example, there is currently no way of doing video conferencing with more than one individual, or a way of chatting with your other contacts simultaneously during a video chat.
That being said, the current state of Logitech Vid HD is actually a pretty pleasant experience. The video and audio quality during a video chat (assuming there are no bandwidth limitations) is simply superb. If you receive a call while you are watching TV, or performing some other task, you have the option of answering the call, or ignoring it if you don’t want to interrupt what you’re doing. Currently, you are limited to adding friends via the email address they used to sign up, and have no way of searching through any sort of email contact list, or for friends on social networks like Facebook. One excellent aspect of Vid HD however is that it is not limited to the Logitech Revue, but rather it can be installed on both Windows and OSX, so you can chat with anyone on any computer as long as they have a webcam and the Vid HD software.
Again, these are all things that Logitech is looking into for future releases of the software, but personally I would have liked to see a LITTLE more functionality out of the Vid HD software. Nevertheless, if you decide to purchase a TV Cam now, you will not be dissapointed by the stellar video and audio quality during video chats.
We must not forget to discuss the Logitech Harmony mobile app, which is a mobile application that allows you to control your Revue from an Android or iPhone. The Android application is available now in the Android Market, and the iPhone application will be available soon.
The application itself, however, leaves a little to be desired. In terms of functionality, it allows you to control almost every aspect of the Revue and your set-top box, which in some ways is a downfall of the app. Navigating through the app feels cluttered at times, and could be more streamlined. I feel the app could have benefited from an additional interface featuring the most important control aspects of the Revue, with the option of expanding to more detailed control for additional features.
Overall, the application is a nice addition from Logitech and is yet another option for controlling the Revue, however, I feel the usability of the app suffers at times.
Support is another area in which Logitech has not cut any corners. Logitech has established not one, but two (well, three if you count the Logitech Help Assistant found on the Revue) means of offering support for customers who have purchased a Logitech Revue. First, we have the Revue Customer Care page on the Logitech Website, which offers articles, video, links to phone, email, and live chat support, and even a support forum. The articles range from basics on setting up the Revue for the first time, using the keyboard controller and navigating through the menu system, and advanced troubleshooting guides for any problems that may come up.
Also, Logitech has established the Revue Care YouTube channel, which features all of the videos found on the Revue Customer Care page. This is simply another way to easily access all of the support Logitech is offering, which currently consists of 15 videos (see an example below).
All of this is also contained on the Revue directly via the Logitech Help Assistant, which is found by default in the main menu. There really isn’t anything on the Help Assistant that isn’t found online, but still, it was smart of Logitech to include this information directly on the Revue. You can view the video tutorials, get information about the Revue, and even contact Logitech for help.
Logitech has provided some excellent resources for Logitech Revue customers on a variety of subjects, and I highly encourage anyone having issues with their Revue to visit either the Revue Customer Care page, the Revue Care YouTube channel, or by using the Logitech Help Assistant directly on the Revue itself.
To reiterate, in terms of the actual Revue hardware, and the unique software in the form of the Media Player and Vid HD, Logitech really has produced an outstanding Google TV offering. Whatever limitations arise while using the Revue are caused by the Google TV platform itself, not Logitech. Overall, my laundry list of complaints about what Logitech has done here is very minimal, and does not take away from the experience of using the Revue.
The key spacing on the standard keyboard can be a bit awkward at times, and could benefit from a few more keyboard shortcuts, such as a dedicated key for switching between tabs in the Chrome browser (although using Control-Tab is not difficult to use). Also, as previously mentioned, I feel a bit more could have been put into the initial release of the Vid HD software, including conferencing with more than one person, and an easier way of finding your friends and family who are using Vid HD, such as with Facebook connect.
I suppose my biggest issue with the Revue would have to be the price, which I firmly believe should have been $50-$100 less than the current retail price of $299.99. I feel that a price drop would make this a huge seller for Logitech, especially once improvements to the Google TV platform itself are made in future updates. Perhaps a price drop will coincide with a major Google TV update, such as the inclusion of the Android Market. For now though, the current price may cause some customers to turn to cheaper alternatives, such as Apple TV.
To summarize, the Logitech Revue is truly an outstanding piece of hardware, and offers customers some excellent optional peripherals in the form of the TV Cam and Mini Controller. I would not hesitate to recommend the Revue to anyone interested in purchasing a Google TV device. Simply put: this is a terrific product, and Logitech has positioned themselves to be a key figure going forward as the Google TV platform evolves.
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