Logitech's new Revue™ with Google TV™ is a two-piece system that includes a companion box and wireless keyboard controller with an integrated touchpad and remote. This duo takes television to a new level by seamlessly integrating standard cable or satellite programming with internet streaming providers such as YouTube, Netflix and Pandora. Inside of the Revue™ you will find a 1.2GHz Intel Atom-based processor, 1GB of RAM, and 5GB of flash-based storage. Wired Ethernet or 802.11n WiFi provides the internet connection.
Dish Network Compatible
The Revue is designed to work seamlessly with DISH Network ViP622 and ViP722/ViP722k DVRs. Our Dish ViP722 satellite receiver worked perfectly with the Logitech Revue, giving our home entertainment system even greater content access. All Dish DVR controls and features were now accessible in an easy to use media keyboard. Whether it was selecting the guide or playing back content on the DVR, this system had no problem controlling it.
The setup walks you through a series of steps to ensure your components can be controlled. Even the new Anthem MRX700 A/V receiver we are reviewing is supported. Logitech has leveraged from their Harmony remote technology and database to provide users with the latest product support.
The keyboard is a relatively small and lightweight design measuring only 13" x 5" x 1" (WxLxH). The keyboard operates on a set of standard "AA" batteries. The wireless link is based on Logitech's Unifying wireless technology and seems to be very reliable. The design seems to work well and allows users to control their DISH DVR, Netflix, Pandora, and web browsing all from a single interface. There is no backlighting, so using this in a home theater environment can be a bit challenging. Dedicated buttons on the top right control the A/V receiver, set-top box and television power. Other buttons provide instant access to TV, program guide, and the DVR. Volume and mute buttons are also on the top area for quick access.
Connecting the Revue is a simple process and it is designed to be placed between an existing set-top box and display unit using the two HDMI ports (in and out). There is also a wired ethernet (RJ45) jack and built-in wireless (WiFi) capability. Two USB ports are available for accessories including the Logitech TV Cam, external hard drives or memory sticks. An optical (toslink) output is provided for digital audio should the user decide not to use the HDMI interface to stream the digital audio. The Revue is powered by a universal AC power adapter (Input: 100-240VAC/50-60Hz, Output: 12V/3A).
The Revue can send a digital bitstream to your receiver using the optical (toslink) interface. We verified that our receiver could see Dolby Digital 5.1 from sources capable of providing it. However, when using the HDMI connection the Revue does not send the digital audio as a bitstream. Instead, the Revue decodes the audio internally and sends it as multi-channel (5.1) PCM digital audio. This may sound confusing, but the result is the same for those with compatible receivers such as our Anthem MRX700.
Set up DISH Network
One of the great features of the Logitech Revue is the ability to seamlessly integrate with set-top boxes. Our DISH Network Vip722 satellite receiver worked well with the Revue and once connected we were able to control the receiver using the wireless keyboard. Operating the DVR, changing channels, and navigating through the program guide was easy with this keyboard. Unfortunately, we were not able to use the alpha-numeric keys when running the DISH search feature. I had to resort to the more cumbersome on-screen keyboard. Hopefully this feature will be enabled in a later firmware update. The original DISH remote is still better for quickly navigating though channels and operating the DVR function, but the Revue keyboard works well.
Logitech TV Cam
The Logitech TV Cam (MSRP: $149.99) is an accessory that plugs into the USB port on the back of the Logitech Revue. The high definition 720p camera lets users make and receive crystal clear video calls using their HDTV display without the need of a computer. The high performance video is the result of the Carl Zeiss® optics used in the TV cam. The product features a wide-angle lens and a 5x digital zoom so that you can capture either your whole living room or just a small section of it.
TV Cam Mounting
The TV Cam is designed to be placed on any flat surface or on top of a flat panel screen. The bottom part of the base flips back allowing a variety of mounting positions and angles for optimizing the direction of the camera. Two microphones (one on each side of the unit) help reduce noise and echoes in a living room environment. Logitech's RightLight 2™ technology adjusts the picture in low lighting situations for optimal performance.
Logitech Vid HD
Logitech's free Vid HD software enables high-definition video calls of up to 720p when used with the Logitech TV Cam. Once the TV Cam is connected to the Revue box, the user can launch the Vid HD app, which comes preloaded. If the video call is with someone who is not using a Logitech TV Cam with a Revue, they can download Vid for free onto their PC or Mac from www.logitech.com/vid.
When receiving a video call from another Logitech Vid HD user on Google TV, the TV Cam will blink (blue LEDs) to alert you of an incoming call. If you happen to have your system running with the television screen on, you will get an audible ring with notification and caller ID. If you ignore the call or happen to be away from your TV, you will know about any missed calls thanks to the Call Notification icon in the Vid HD interface. Missed calls will illuminate a mailbox light on the TV Cam even when your TV is off. This is a great way to know if someone has tried to contact you.
We ran a test with one of our laptops with a built-in Webcam to see how Logitech's Vid HD worked. The software installed quickly (must be fairly small) and was up and running in short time. Similar to Skype, a friend request was initiated and accepted and then the call was made. Once connected the audio and video worked well. The video coming from the TV Cam looked excellent, while the video from my laptop webcam looked only okay. In addition, the TV Cam video took up most of the screen when viewing, while my webcam video only took a small percentage of the 1080p screen due to limited resolution. Logitech's RightLight 2™ technology worked well even in my poorly lit theater room. There was a small latency with the link, but not too bad.
The latest Netflix user interface updates made to the Revue greatly improve the user experience. Subscribers can now see several categories including Suggestions, New Arrivals, Genres, Instant Queue, and Search. The Revue keyboard works well with this interface making it easy to search. The response time was also fast.
One of the great features of the Logitech Revue is the free service offered by Pandora internet radio. Users can create their own music stations by typing in their favorite artists and creating a station. Anyone who loves music will enjoy this feature. The free account does limit you to 6 skips per station per hour. However, even with this limitation Pandora provides amazingly good performance with a great product.
Logitech Media Player
The Logitech Media Player included as part of the Revue plays back content from Network Sources as well as USB Sources. The Revue found all of our network based content on our PCs, Media Servers, and NAS drives. We plugged in an external 1TB hard drive into the USB port and the Revue had no problem playing back content from it. We played a large 600MB sample 1080p MOV video file and the performance was excellent. Standard UBS memory sticks work just as well. The Logitech Media Player gives the Revue nice playback capabilities with a variety of multimedia content including music and photos.
Logitech offers a free app (Logitech Harmony) for android devices that works with the Revue. The app requires WiFi to be active and provides control of your electronics through the user interface. Since the WiFi connection is used for the data link, there is no need to have line of sight to communicate to the Revue or items defined in the setup. Launching the Watch Google TV button automatically turns on the television and A/V receiver. Controls for the DVR, receiver, and the Google TV functions are available. Even the mouse cursor works using the Android touch screen. I found the basic controls most useful especially for volume control and basic DVR functions. However, the Google keyboard was still easier for operating the system.
Overall performance of the Logitech Revue was very good during our review period, especially with the latest firmware release. The system gave us the ability to converge our favorite DISH Network content with Netflix streaming, Pandora music, web browsing, and general network media access. The accompanying wireless keyboard controller with the integrated touchpad and remote proved to be a well thought out human interface with a reliable link. The system will only get better with time.
The Logitech Revue was initially released late last year (October, 2010) at a retail price of just under $300. Recently, Logitech has reduced the price of this system to $200 with outfits such as Amazon offering it for as little as $180. My review of the Logitech Revue was delayed, largely due to Google asking manufactures of Google TV products to hold-off on product releases due to lackluster reviews. Google wanted time to refine the software and felt this would be a good plan to minimize any bad press. This worked out well for us since many of the new refinements have made the Revue a much better product.
Our experience with the Revue has been a positive one with good performance and a nice array of features. We did have occasional sluggishness with certain applications, but they appeared to be limited and isolated to specific functions. Hopefully these get resolved in future updates. Our DISH Network receiver integrated well with the rest of the features in the Revue and had no ill side effects. Netflix also worked very well and the HD video quality was excellent. Like many new products that are released, the Revue had some bumps in the road to overcome. However, it has certainly improved over the last 6 months and with the recent price drop, it has become quite a bargain.
- Kevin Nakano