Setting the Revue up is pretty simple. Power cable. HDMI in from your DVR or cable box, HDMI out to the TV (one HDMI cable is included). Wifi built in (or you can jack in an ethernet cable if you wish). The on-screen setup went smoothly, although the Revue did hang after downloading an update. needing a quick power off / power on to get things going again. You’re asked for a Google account, which isn’t a big deal but does create an issue for households with more than one Google user — whose account do you add to the TV? Or should you create a special gTV account to be shared by all? The hardest part was setting up the connection to your TV and DVR or other set-top box — you’ll be asked for the specific model numbers for each.
At any rate, eventually you’re all done and your new Google TV is ready to roll.
So what did I do first? Check out YouTube. gTV has something called “YouTube Leanback” built in as a custom channel – mostly music videos and content from key partners. You can also use the built-in Chrome browser to log into your own YouTube account and use YouTube just like you would on your computer (my choice). The Logitech keyboard / touchpad works well for navigating around the screen and I was quickly able to start watching my saved favorites in full-screen mode on our 46″ TV.
Performance was a non-issue. Of course, watching older, non-HD video on a big HDTV isn’t exactly a challenge, so next I gave Netflix a shot. After activating the gTV with my Netflix account, my queue came up on screen and I was able to dive right in. Performance was no different than what I get when watching Netflix streamed via my TiVo. [Side note, this is now device #3 in the living room capable of streaming Netflix to our TV. I really need to get streaming Netflix into other rooms of the house now.]
So far, so good. I don’t like basketball so I gave the NBA app a pass, nor do I have a lot of photos in Picasa so I couldn’t do much with that. There are some other apps (HBO GO, CNBC, Twitter, etc) I have yet to check out as well.
I’d like to see more apps on the gTV of course – for example, as a Last.fm subscriber it’s a little frustrating to see Napster and Pandora there but not my preferred streaming music provider. It will be a few months before there’s a healthy pipeline of new gTV apps, so I’ll have to be patient.
At this point, my main concern is — who is the target market for the Google TV? As The Spouse pointed out, people like us already generally watch TV with a laptop parked in our laps. We can search, Tweet, etc in the living room already. For that kind of user, the use-case would be in rooms of the house where you have a TV set up but don’t necessarily want to haul a laptop – like the kitchen or bedroom. Originally I was going to set the gTV up in the bedroom, in fact, but we have an older cable box and DVR in there and as such don’t have the necessary HD connectivity.
For slightly less geeky families, having a Google TV in the living room could be a big win — if they nail the user experience. It’s good, especially for a 1.0 version, but could be a little more friendly.
With US midterm elections this Tuesday, I’m really interested to see how well the web browser / TV picture in picture setup will play out – having Twitter and MSNBC on the same screen could be a lot of fun.