I have often wondered what viewers in the late 1920’s must have thought when their audio only radio shows suddenly became visual. Sure, only a handful of viewers actually saw those early broadcasts, and sure they consisted of little more than people sitting in chairs talking or smoking cigarettes. Looking back, one has to wonder whether those early viewers recognized the importance of what they were viewing. Not some old dude sitting in a chair, smoking, but rather the dawn of a new age in communication.
Looking back on those early days of television, has caused me to opine about whether we might see a similar dawning of a new age in communication and entertainment. Truly, video killed the radio star. Sure, the television has undergone significant makeovers over the course of the last century. It has grown significantly, shifted from black and white to color, become digital and high definition, and now even 3-D. In the end, though, none of these really transforms the way in which we communicate or interact with the television. It all amounts to simply providing improved means by which to passively sit on the couch and watch the television.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, as they say, another revolution was coming to fruition as the information age was dawning in an entirely different room. Over there in your home office, what has once been a standalone computer was becoming a portal to other worlds of interactivity. The information and Internet age brought us all closer to our entertainment and communication than we could ever have imagined…without ever leaving the comfort of your own home.
The problem has always been that until recently, these two forms of communication and entertainment have remained entirely mutually exclusive. The computer reigned supreme in the home office, while the television ruled the living room. Moving content between the two, however, was a challenge…to say the least.
Today, all of that changed when Logitech officially announced the Logitech Revue, a small set-top box, which is the first device to bring Google’s new Google TV directly into your living room. To understand the significance of this device, however, we need to take a step backwards and look at exactly what Google TV entails. For that, we can take a quick visit to www.google.com/tv.
In a nutshell, Google TV takes your Internet, television, and smartphone, and rolls them into one tiny box, which is just chock full of advanced, interactive features. You could call it smart, interactive TV, though I prefer gTV…Still, yu have to wonder what those early 1927 viewers would make of this one. Google TV includes:
- Google Chrome complete with Adobe Flash 10.1 for full access to the Internet
- Apps, apps, apps. If they work on your Android phone, they are likely going to be available on Google TV. Some early entries include Netflix, Pandora, NBA Basketball, Amazon On Demand Video, YouTube, and Napster. There are a few notable omissions, however, including the lack of a Hulu app, NFL Football, and MLB Baseball. At this point, however, we can only assume that these and dozens of other apps are on their way.
- Your phone is the remote. A free app can be downloaded to your Android phone or iPhone, allowing it to control your television experience.
- Fling. OK, I know this is a bit of a ripoff of an Apple TV feature…but I really do not care. Surf the web on your phone, find something you like, and with the press of a button, it is displayed on television screen.
- Did I mention complete access to Netflix? Not to mention Amazon On Demand? No Hulu as of yet, but hopefully that will be coming soon.
- A homescreen for your television. You can store all of your favorite channels, apps, websites, podcasts, and any other content on your homescreen. No need to channel surf or web surf again, just go straight to your television home screen and access all of your favorites at once.
- Streaming photos from Picasa and Flickr for an incredible, larger than life, photo slideshow
- Universal search. A single search will reveal all of the content on the web, television, apps, allowing you to access it all from one convenient location.
Of course, this all raises the obvious question, how do you get all of these features on your television. For that, unfortunately, you are going to need some new hardware. For now, that means the just-announced Logitech Revue (though Sony will soon be releasing a television with Google TV functionality built-in.
Logitech describes the Revue as, “a compact, plug-and-play companion box with its Logitech® Keyboard Controller, which together provide seamless control over the Google TV experience and home-entertainment devices. The company’s portfolio of products for Google TV also includes the Logitech® TV Cam and Vid™ HD service for HD video calling from the comfort of one’s sofa. In addition, Logitech is offering the Logitech® Mini Controller for Logitech Revue as well as other applications designed for the Google TV platform.”
In addition to the main Revue unit, which includes a wireless keyboard, Logitech also announced several accessories (below). First is a high definition camera, called the TV Cam, which allows you to make and receive video calls, directly from your TV. Imagine making those Skype calls to Grandma in 60 inch high def…on second thought…better hope Grandma is wearing some make up. In addition, they have also announced the Mini Controller, a small touchpad remote which serves as the mouse when surfing through Google TV.
I have to say, I am pretty impressed by what I have seen so far. If this is the Google TV equivelant of a man sitting in a chair smoking a cigarette, you can only imagine what possibilities might be unlocked 15 years from now, or 25, 50, and even 100 years down the road. Video may have killed the radio star, but Google TV is out to kill the video star.