Google tv

The Logitech Revue does many things well, although most of those are features that are already Logitech strengths – like the universal remote control, the very usable (and surprisingly light) keyboard and the DLNA media streaming.

Google TV does several things well: putting the full-featured Chrome browser onto a TV screen, integrating a mix of online and TV information for a search that certainly approaches its universal claim, giving you YouTube video full screen with only a modicum of fiddling each time.

But what it mostly does is hint at a future where your entertainment really will be integrated and seamless but also open and powerful.

The problem is that many of the roadblocks to reaching this nirvana are more about business models than about technology (although there are some technology issues to solve as well) and there's no guarantee that Google will be able to solve all of them.

We liked:

It's the web, on TV; you're watching YouTube videos and Adult Swim Cartoons and video podcasts and your online photos or listening to Pandora and Napster and podcasts on the screen you bought for watching and listening on.

You can search and get results from the web and your TV provider. You can have the news playing in a small window while you check out what your friends are saying on Twitter. It's not seamless and it's not always intuitive, but it beats hauling out a laptop to look at next to your TV.

We disliked:

The setup and the simple fact of having a keyboard for a remote control are going to put off people who would otherwise be the target market for a system that makes it easy to get the web on TV.

The interface is both simplistic and confusing. The pause problem is frankly infuriating. There are too many places where you're asking why a feature like picture in picture only works for TV channels, not online videos and the fact that we were agreeably surprised when the search button searched inside the Twitter app says something about the level of expectations we came to have of the user interface.

The app market isn't here so everything that passes for apps today is a website – which is both an advantage and disadvantage; some work with the arrow keys, some need the mouse, but even on the best sites the web seams show eventually.

Verdict:

Google TV is very promising; taking online video to the sofa, along with your photos and music and favourite websites is a great idea and an open selection of apps will be a welcome change from the walled garden app offerings of current connected TVs.

But the current version of Google TV doesn't deliver on that promise, with an overcomplicated interface, TV integration that only offers DVR functions with select set-top boxes and services, and no apps that aren't just websites.

Compared to the limited functionality but blissfully simple setup of the latest Apple TV, Google TV still feels like you need to be a geek to use it.

If the UK devices don't have significant improvements and the Android Marketplace, we say wait for another version or two. At this point, it's too much Google and not enough TV.