The Logitech Revue with Google TV

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Just because your connected TV set or media receiver can stream content from particular sites doesn’t mean you can explore the full range of the Internet. But with the Logitech Revue with Google TV Media Player, you can “Google” anything from the sofa as easily as from a computer. 

And Web search is only the beginning of what you can do with this entertainment, control and communications device.

In the box are the Logitech Revue media receiver, a shiny black box the size of a hardcover book; the 13.2-inch wide wireless Keyboard Controller, which combines a keyboard and touchpad and comes with two AA batteries already installed; IR blaster cables and HDMI cable. The connectors on the back of the Revue give you a hint about how the technology fits into your home theater: HDMI in and out ports, dual IR outputs, two USBs, Ethernet jack and digital optical audio output.

Since there is no built-in TV tuner, Logitech assumes you’ll be inserting the Revue between your cable or satellite receiver/DVR and HDTV set or home theater receiver. The IR blaster enables you to control your cable or satellite box from the Revue. You connect it to your home network and the Internet through the Revue’s dual-band 802.11n-compatible Wi-Fi transceiver or your own Ethernet cable.

The Revue’s top menu lets you access such apps as YouTube, Pandora, Netflix and NBA TV. If you’re using the built-in browser, you can watch TV in a window. An updated user interface will be automatically downloaded to every Logitech Revue in late summer based on the Android Honeycomb operating system common in a variety of tablets. The multi-touch touchpad on the keyboard enables gesture controls. Revue owners will also have greater access to the Android Market, where they can download both free and pay apps. (Neither Hulu or Hulu Plus were available to Google TV owners as of midsummer.)

Beyond streaming entertainment or viewing information from the Internet, the Logitech Revue is Digital Living Network Alliance enabled for streaming content (music, photos and videos) stored on the same local area network and for playing content from a USB storage device plugged directly into the Revue. The only other implementation of the Revue’s USB ports, so far, is for accepting a specific camera, the Logitech TV Cam Webcam. The 720p (16:9) camera is formatted for widescreen HDTV sets. It incorporates an auto-focusing Carl Zeiss lens with 5x digital zoom. Flanking the lens are two directional microphones with noise reduction and echo cancellation designed for the lean-back environment of living room video chat. There’s onscreen notification to let you know when a phone call comes in.

An accessory meant for viewers who prefer a smaller remote than the included full-size Keyboard Controller (also available separately) is Logitech’s Mini Controller. The palm-size controller with clamshell cover features an illuminated QWERTY keypad, dedicated keys for such functions as browsing, play/pause and fast forward, a touchpad that doubles as a directional pad and a rechargeable battery.

However, you don’t necessarily need a dedicated controller. If you own an Apple iPhone, iPod touch or iPad or an Android-based phone, you can download a free app from the iTunes App Store or Android Market that affords control over the Logitech Revue.

Google TV is also available as technology embedded in several Sony TV sets and a Sony Blu-ray Disc player. No matter what you choose, get ready for a much smarter viewing experience that merges Internet entertainment and information with all your cable or satellite channels.