Google TV review

Can Google's Internet TV service deliver the experience you demand?

google tv review
Can Google TV live up to expectations?

TechRadar Verdict


  • +

    It's the internet on your TV

  • +

    QWERTY keyboard

  • +

    Full web with HTML5 and Flash

  • +

    YouTube works well


  • -

    Overly complicated

  • -

    Limited content

  • -

    Full-screen takes an extra click

  • -

    Few websites work well from 10 feet away

  • -

    Feels like a beta product

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Despite asking its hardware partners not to show new Google TV devices at CES, Google has said that this is the year that Google TV will be available outside the US.

But if the first international Google TV devices are like the $300 Logitech Revue that's currently shipping in the US, will you want one when you can buy it?

The idea behind Google TV is to take the TV screen and the TV channels you already have and add the web, complete with Flash and HTML 5, web content like YouTube and a search interface that brings it all together.

What you get is an interface running on top of a derivative of Android 2.1 plus Chrome rather than the Android browser - but still with Flash 10.1 built in.

google tv

That's all running on an Intel Atom CE4150 processor with hardware accelerated video encoding and decoding (for H.264 but not for WebM) rather than the ARM processor we're used to seeing Android on. And that means that not only is the Revue's case large enough to fit in a full set of connectors – HDMI in, HDMI out, Ethernet, two USB ports, two IR blaster ports and SPDIF – it also has air vents and a fan (although you won't notice it over the sound of your TV).

Most add-on media streaming boxes that you plug into your TV, like Apple TV and Boxee systems, leave you to control your TV separately, with its original remote.

Google TV is more like Windows Media Centre (or the Windows Media Center-based set-top boxes that will be out this year), where you get one remote control for working with both TV and online content, and you can see TV shows (from a cable TV or set-top box but not broadcast channels, at least on the systems we tested) full screen or in a picture-in-picture window, via the HDMI port.

logitech revue

The Revue has the advantage of Logitech's Harmony remote technology; tell it the model of your TV, set-top box or AV receiver (easier said than done if you've got a flatscreen mounted on the wall) and it looks them up in its online database and lets you control them from the Revue remote.

It's limited to controlling three IR devices, but it does mean you only have one remote to find space for. But that remote is actually a full size QWERTY keyboard, which is going to put off a number of mainstream users straight away.


Mary (Twitter, Google+, website) started her career at Future Publishing, saw the AOL meltdown first hand the first time around when she ran the AOL UK computing channel, and she's been a freelance tech writer for over a decade. She's used every version of Windows and Office released, and every smartphone too, but she's still looking for the perfect tablet. Yes, she really does have USB earrings.