Logitech Revue: Not As Good As It Should Have Been

Logitech just presented their first GoogleTV product, the Revue. I’ve written many times about how the TV is the next big device to get revolutionized. Unfortunately, I personally just don’t think that the Revue is “it.” Warning: an impulsive, reactionary, but also honest rant is following.

Basing my analysis on their presentation, specs, videos, current reporting of other sites, here are some of the things I disliked on the (over-priced) product. For starters, it has four different remote controls, a good indication that there’s confusion and hazy vision on Logitech’s part. Simply, none of these controllers is right. Let’s take them one by one:

– A full wireless keyboard? Really? Who wants such a massive thing on their lap while sitting on their living room? Except for a few geeks, this is a no-no.

– The mini-wireless keyboard is just a traditional keyboard, with smaller keys. No innovation there. Innovation would have been if that mini-controller was also a game controller, pushing GoogleTV into one more market (since Android is getting quite a few new games lately). Oh, and $129 is very steep.

– The IR blaster is taking me back to 1969. ‘nuf said. Kill it already.

– The Android/iOS app is the only one that I accept as a good, modern solution. Problem is, ONE look at it, and you realize that Logitech does not have the Apple touch. The app is FULL of buttons! Compare this app to Apple’s Remote app, and you would break down crying. When you have a remote control that it’s basing its abilities on individual buttons for every possible action, rather than a more simple *organic* UI design, it’s a tell-tell sign of a two-way problem:
1. The remote itself is overwhelming, and slow to operate.
2. The remote is overwhelming, simply because the UI design of the main device is badly done.

And this brings me to the main device’s UI design. Which has nothing new on it in terms of modern UI from what I can tell by watching their videos. Why does it have to be Apple the only company that knows how to design good, modern, organic UIs? From what I’ve seen from the GoogleTV videos so far, it’s just old school TV UI. No major innovation there.

Then, there’s the problem of the webcam. My main problem is that their video-chat is simply a closed system (“Logitech Vid”). No Gtalk, no Skype, no Fring, no Y!, no MSN, no iChat, no FaceTime (which are today’s most popular video chat systems). It’s just yet another video chat system, which is incompatible with everything else and only a handful of people use. There was no indication that their future SDK will include support for that webcam so third parties can write video-chat apps for the Revue. So why the heck would I buy and use that? My mom, who has an Ubuntu netbook with a webcam, has access to GTalk video chat, and Skype. Pretty standard stuff. But nooo… Logitech wanted to re-invent the wheel, essentially creating a useless service. And they ask for $129 for it.

Then, there’s no Android Market yet. Netflix is an old version (no “search” function). Hulu is not there yet (still under negotiations, Logitech said — which means that we’re probably at least a year away from it). RDIO/MOG/Spotify not there yet (Pandora is just radio rather than on-demand music, so it doesn’t cut it for me). Also, where’s LIVE TV of the 5 big TV US channels (FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, CW)? Instead of bending over to Dish Network, why not also have individual agreements with these 5 networked channels, which are the BASIC channels, and have them stream directly via Google’s servers? Basically, what I’m saying here is that GoogleTV could also have been a stand-alone TV device in its own right, if it could stream the live feed of the 5 most basic TV channels. Why? Because not everyone has cable/satellite, or want it. I’m personally considering unsubscribing from Comcast, in light of Netflix/HuluPlus on my PS3, and an aerial antenna for these 5 basic TV channels. These three solutions, can easily live inside GoogleTV. This could make GoogleTV (aside the sports channels and HBO), a complete TV solution for a major percentage of consumers in the US.

The good things: connected hard drives, voice search, DLNA support, Chrome. It stops right there for my needs.

What’s missing from this product is vision in terms of usability. Google seems to have the vision regarding revolutionizing the TV, but they don’t seem to have UI designers that can pop the cherry and give Apple a run for its money. And the lack of actual live TV streaming of the 5 basic channels is a thorn.

In many ways, this product reminds me the first versions of Android: sucky UI, no clear direction, missing features. Which means that I might look into a GoogleTV device in 1-2 years from now. Not today though.

PS. I find the AppleTV equally useless btw. Just not the kind of revolutionized TV I was looking for. Not enough “revolution” in it.


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