Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Volume 6, Number 12: Stepping Into Google TV

When Google TV came out just under a year ago, Logitech came out with a Google TV set-top box called the Revue, which caried a hefty $299 price tag. I did not even consider buying one at that price. But in late July, Logitech chopped the price down to $99, and last week, TigerDirect sold a limited quantity on eBay for $9 less than that.

Long story short, I went and took the Google TV plunge (thanks to the TigerDirect/eBay $90 offer). Why?

  • Google TV has a few advantages over its competitors (Roku, Boxee and Apple TV), such as integration with my existing cable service and the fact that it has the Google Chrome web browser as one of its built-in apps. (Chrome supports Flash, so I could watch YouTube videos, and if I so desired, play Facebook games like Madden NFL Superstars on this device as well.)
  • As I let slip in the previous bullet point, the Revue's got apps built into it. It's got about a dozen right now, including the Logitech Media Player (more on that later) and the Pandora Internet music service as well as Google Chrome. Now, down the road, I wouldn't be satisfied with just a dozen apps; however, an upcoming operating system upgrade is supposed to change all that--the new Google TV OS would have tons of new apps available that aren't compatible with the current OS. And anyway, TVs with wireless Internet connectivity and built-in apps are becoming more common nowadays, and my HDTV (a 32" Toshiba set I bought two years ago) wouldn't have those features otherwise. Buying a new TV with those features would have been much more expensive.
  • No going back and forth between the living room and the office anytime I want to do something on the computer that's related to something I'm watching on TV. A fine example was last year's Harrison High School state football championship game, when I went between watching the game in my living room and giving Facebook and Twitter status updates in the office. (For those of you who say I could have done that with a smartphone, yes, I could have if I wanted to pay out the nose for one, and I have no plans to do so.) Or if I'm watching a TV show and seeing an actor or actress that I couldn't quite place where I've seen him or her, I can just switch to Google TV and run the Chrome web browser (I should mention that the Revue Google TV box has a picture-in-picture feature so I can continue to see the TV show while searching IMDB for the actor). And of course, I could check e-mail or surf the Web to kill time during commercial breaks.
  • The ability to play, on the TV in my living room, content from the PC in my office using the Logitech Media Player app--this functionality wasn't the easiest thing in the world to set up, but once I figured it out, wow, was I happy. Basically, the Revue has Wi-Fi, so not only can it access the Internet through my wireless router, but as long as my PC is on, it can also access and play content from the PC. It rocks being able to play videos on a 32" HDTV while laying on my couch instead of on a 20" monitor while sitting in my office chair.
Bottom line, I'm happy with the Revue already. I'm really looking forward to the aforementioned OS upgrade. There are two categories of apps that might interest me: Apps to improve my TV viewing experience (either in the form of cable TV content I wouldn't enjoy otherwise, or an app that lets me search the next two weeks' worth of TV listings by keyword instead of just by category), and certain kinds of games (I'd love to see a Google TV pinball game, for example, as it it might be more fun to play one of those on a 32" TV instead of a 20" monitor).

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