Logitech introduced its Google TV product line, the first of at least a handful of forthcoming consumer electronics devices designed to support Google's effort to bring television and Internet content together on a single platform.
This is not the first attempt to cross-breed TV and the Net, but it is arguably the most credible to date. WebTV Networks, acquired by Microsoft in 1997, had some success with the concept after it launched in 1996. But past efforts haven't really created a whole greater than the sum of its parts, making the value proposition dubious.
The problem, as described by Gerald Quindlen, president and CEO of Logitech, is that consumers have access to a tremendous amount of content through a variety of sources, but no easy way to access all of it. This challenge, said Quindlen, is what Google TV aims to solve.
"There has not been up to now a single solution to bring all this together in a single interface because, to steal a recent movie title, it's complicated," said Quindlen.
Google TV brings television, the Web, Android-based apps, and personal computer files together in a single place, in a single interface. It works because of the glue that is Google's core competency: search, via keyword and voice.
With fast, effective search, a simple interface, and the right input options, surfing the Web on a TV is no longer a second-class experience and augmenting TV content with Web elements and apps seems less clumsy.
The core of Logitech's Google TV product line is the Logitech Revue, a $300 set-top box that integrates with existing video hardware and TVs and allows those devices to be controlled from a single remote through IR signals. The Revue comes with a wireless keyboard control unit ($100 if purchased separately); it can also be controlled using an iPhone or Android phone, or a Logitech Mini Controller ($130).