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Not Gaga Over Google

I’m completely opposed to the goal of world domination by anyone, except maybe the New York Yankees.

I’m completely opposed to the goal of world domination by anyone, except maybe the New York Yankees. Hitler? Not such a good role model.

That’s why I’m initially not a big fan of GoogleTV. Google is already ubiquitous on the web and seems to be seeking an even bigger footprint beyond that. That’s why I’m not at all upset that the three incarnations of its new technology (via a Sony TV, a Sony Blu-ray Disc player, and Logitech’s Revue set-top box) have been met with derision by reviewers since their launches.

Let’s face it, the concept of merging the vegetative “exercise” of watching TV with the somewhat more “active” experience of surfing the internet, has never been a successful formula. What has changed, however, is that the web has been evolving into an extension of the TV, by providing access to archived TV shows, movies that can be downloaded or streamed, and YouTube, oh blessed YouTube with its cats playing pianos and such.

While this trend seems to play right into the hands of Google new platform, the execution of the concept, by most accounts, has been half-baked. New York Times tech writer David Pogue laments the requirement for a “two-handed” remote for Sony’s products, and he was somewhat flabbergasted that Logitech’s Revue box required a keyboard and mouse for operation.

Michael Heiss offers his own CEDIA-centric take on the Revue box, starting on p. 32 of this issue. His review is a bit less cynical, if perhaps only because he knows that explaining how to use complicated new gear is what our channel has been doing (mostly successfully) for years.

Heiss seems to confirm Pogue’s assertion that “GoogleTV may be interesting to technophiles, but it’s not for average people,” but he also notes that “high points” were the product’s “seamless remote integration, as one would expect from Logitech thanks to the extensive database of remote codes developed for its Harmony product line.” This is an “inside baseball” comment that only our industry would understand, but it’s a key point in explaining the integration capabilities of the Revue box. Heiss also concedes that, “for the average consumer, the Revue works quite well for its intended purpose of melding the web and off-air, ‘cable,’ and ‘pay’ program content,” and that it offers “one of the better implementations” for YouTube on a consumer device.

But Heiss’ ultimate statement for our industry’s potential role in the launch of GoogleTV is his recommendation that this is “a product you may want to put in your demo system to gauge client reaction before you spec it in.”

So, provide your clients with a comfortable place to sit down, relax, and play with this new technology. Let’s just hope that not too many people fall in love with GoogleTV. After all, world domination can be so ugly.