Do you want to surf the Web on your TV?
Google TV is one of several platforms (including Apple TV that we reviewed last week) that brings the Internet into your living room, letting you browse online while simultaneously playing live TV.
There are several ways to get Google TV. You can buy a Sony flat-screen TV or else a Sony Blu-ray disc player with the capability built in. the third option, which we’ll look at here, is the Logitech Revue set-top box.
At $300, the Logitech Revue is the least expensive way to get the Google TV platform. and unlike the $100 Apple TV, the Revue provides the full Web experience on your TV. For $149 extra you can get a Logitech Web Cam that lets you use the Revue device to make video phone calls.
The basic Revue device — which comes with a 10-by-7-by-1-inch-deep black plastic control box and very light 13-by-5-inch wireless keyboard — is easy to set up with clear on-screen directions. Be sure to have the model numbers of your TV and DVR, or digital video recorder, before you start the setup. also have a spare outlet on your power strip for the Revue.
To use the Revue, you’ll need to have an HDMI high-definition connection on your TV, which connects to the back of the device. another HDMI cord connects to your cable box
DVR. Finally, you need to plug in an Ethernet cable directly from your cable modem or else use the wireless network you have set up in your home.
After setup, I started by using the keyboard to operate my TV, using dedicated keys for such things as adjusting volume, bringing up menus and controlling my DVR.
The Revue’s keyboard also features a dedicated search button. Hit this and you can search the name of a channel rather than scrolling through dozens of channels. I typed in “Food Network” and at the top of the results was a direct link to the live TV channel with a description of the show that was playing. Along with the TV channel comes results for the Food Network Web site. the Revue keyboard has a navigation panel and a touchscreen that you use to move your cursor around the TV screen. a dedicated mouse key “left-clicks” the pointer and brought up directions on how to make a Pasta Carbonara I saw on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
While watching the Jets-Steelers playoff game, I was able to catch up on every detail of the match-up on the Web, while gleefully watching the demise of the Jets at the same time.
This can be done with the dedicated “dual view” key that lets you minimize the live TV screen into a movable window, while you can surf the Web on the rest of the screen. It’s way cool and by far the best feature of the Revue.
The home screen on Google TV’s Web page gives you quick access to built-in apps such as Netflix, Amazon video-on-demand, YouTube, Pandora, Napster and Twitter. You can also easily bookmark sites.
Unfortunately, Web surfing with the Revue is rather slow and clunky compared to doing it on a computer. Loading sites took a lot longer than I’m used to with high-speed Internet, and delays occurred with the Revue whether I used an Ethernet cable or my wireless home network.
With the Revue, you can also easily search the Netflix catalog and queue up films and TV shows, which streamed through my TV without a hitch. I also tried a few video-on-demand offerings from Amazon.com that also streamed great on my TV.
Paid content is convenient to get on the Revue, but you cannot watch free episodes of many network shows. most of the TV networks, as well as Hulu, are blocking access to Google TV because of piracy concerns. But there’s included apps that let you search and watch anything on BBC America or while away the hours watching YouTube.
I have to mention one other niggling concern. using the Revue reduced the amount of real estate and lowered the resolution on my 46-inch flat-screen TV.