So, Google TV by Logitech (and next week by Sony) was unveiled today and this means it is much easier to post about it. I have been working non-stop for the past year and waited impatiently to be able to talk about it. After reading through various popular tech blogs and comment sections it seems that some of you might still be a bit confused of how GoogleTV and particularly Logitechs’ version will work.
Below, I will try to answer several questions I’ve seen people have posted as comments in various tech blogs. Let’s start this by explaining how it all comes together.
As of today most cable/satellite providers supply the customer with a set-top-box (STB) thats used to navigate through the channels, one that you hook up to your TV and that’s about it. You use your universal remote to control this STB and navigate to different channels and the guide. So, let’s answer a few key questions:
So where does Logitech Revue fit in all this and how does it enhance my living room experience?
The Revue is a simple, small device that was designed to go literally in-between your TV and your STB. Instead of hooking up the STB directly to your TV, you hook up your STB to the Revue (HDMI IN) and then you hook up the Revue to your TV (HDMI OUT). By doing this, you have successfully improved your TV experience by leaps and bounds, because now, your Revue acts as the “middle-man” for your TV and channel navigation through GoogleTV which currently runs Android 2.1. Well, most of you know how powerful Android is and can be. Suddenly, its not about just changing channels, you now have the full web available via Chrome, apps, multi-tasking, picture-in-picture and god knows what developers will come up with once the market is ready. Check out some of the YouTube videos available for apps that come with GoogleTV.
How does the Revue control my STB, no, literally how does it do it, especially since there are multiple brands and different providers out there?
There are two ways a Revue can control your STB:
- 2-way communication (certain DISH STBs only)
- 1-way communication (All others, literally hundreds supported)
What’s the difference? With a 2-way the communication between Revue and your STB occurs via IP. Upon setup the Revue will scan for STBs in your local network and prompt you if it finds one. The 2-way mode offers better control and additional functionality such as the ability ask your STB to setup a recording in the future for you. Remember, this only available for some DISH STBs and whoever else Google is working with to provide this in the future.
In 1-way mode the Revue will control your STB via Infrared (IR). Let’s say you have DirecTV STB or TiVo or some other random STB, chances are you will still be able to control it. The functionality remains more or less the same as in the 2-way mode, however you do lose some extended functions such as setup a recording in the future. We’ve done our best to smooth out the experience for you.
How does channel searching/switching work and does it matter if my setup is 1-way or 2-way?
So you fire up the Revue and you are at the home screen. You press the search button and type in a channel such as ‘CNN’. You are wondering if this will work with a 1-way setup with a DirecTV or Tivo box for example. The answer is yes, it will work. The channel lineup is loaded independently of the way you control your STB and it is based on your zipcode that you enter during setup. The Revue will tune to the appropriate channel for you and if you have that channel then life is good.
I don’t have an STB…is the Revue (and GoogleTV) worthless for me?
Absolutely not. You can hookup the Revue directly to your TV without a STB. However, for channel switching and control of your TV things might be a bit more different. See, one of the great features of GoogleTV compared to other solutions on the market, is that it does not require you to switch inputs. If you setup your TV to act as your STB when you switch a channel you will switch away from GoogleTV, so it is not an optimal experience.
I am in college, I don’t pay for TV but I do pay for an Xbox360 or PS3. Will it work?
Of course it will. The Revue since it has an HDMI IN port can connect to other devices besides STBs such as your 360 or PS3. You hook it up exactly as you would for your STB. In fact, I have this setup at home. I’ve basically setup my Xbox360 as my 1-way STB and I am actually controlling my Xbox through my GoogleTV keyboard! It is actually really cool to bring down the search box and jump into a YouTube video while playing Halo Reach campaign, multi-task between apps and the 360, use the keyboard to play/pause/ff/rw an episode of Family guy and finally use the keyboard to turn my xbox on/off.
Remember the box is just a middle-man which overlays on top of your existing familiar interface. Of course the most recommended setup is through a real STB because you get the full experience and control of your TV!
Do apps work?
Apps do work. However, Google is still working on the market for GoogleTV. I have successfully installed Bloo One and use it for all my Facebook needs. However, it does need some interface rework to fit the large screen.
I have a question that you did not address…
I am here and will be checking this blog daily and I can answer all your questions in the comments. If I see a question is asked a lot I will be adding it here.
p.s I do not work or represent Google. There is a chance some of the information or answers provided might be inaccurate but I will try my best to cover your needs 🙂
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