Gadgets and Games

Google TV Is Here, but Is It Any Good?

Logitech has uvneiled the Revue, the first device to feature the Google TV interface.

Logitech has uvneiled the Revue, the first device to feature the Google TV interface.  (Logitech)

The first Google TV device is finally here and I know what question you’re about to ask: Will I be able to ditch my expensive cable service?

From what I’ve seen this week, no.

I was on-hand in New York City for the unveiling of the Logitech Revue -- the first device to feature the Google TV interface. The Revue is a box that connects to both the Internet and your cable box. It allows you to search for movies and shows online and through your cable service. Search for The Daily Show and you’ll find a list of online clips and versions you’ve recorded on your DVR, for example.

Logitech is the hardware manufacturer in this equation, while Google is responsible for the software -- meaning we’re about to see a whole host of Google TV-powered devices. Next week Sony is widely expected to roll out new flat-screen television sets with Google TV built in. But is that a good thing? Currently there’s no standard way of searching the Internet from the TV in your living room, and Google could be the unifying platform. I’m not convinced it's the right platform to do the job, however.  

We’ve seen a lot of set-top boxes already this fall, and they all attempt to merge the TV and the Internet. I’m talking about Roku and Apple TV, of course. Yet none of these set-top boxes offer a compelling reason to ditch cable, and in many ways Google TV relies on a cable subscription. Otherwise, what would you be searching? The Web? Big deal: I can already do that on my laptop and it won’t cost me an extra $299.

That price doesn’t make sense to me either, considering all it really does is add web content to search. Sure it has Netflix baked in, but I can grab a Roku box with Netflix and a whole host of channel apps for just $60. Or shell out $99 for an Apple TV with Netflix and the ability to rent a slew of content from iTunes.

Besides, everyone wants a simpler experience in the living room -- and Logitech’s answer for simplicity is a giant keyboard controller. It works great but simply looks unsightly sitting on a coffee table. We already fight over the remote in my house. Now we’re going to fight over a keyboard?

I’m happy to see companies competing to put the Web on our television, but the first round of Google TV shows that there’s a long way to go before the Internet and TV are happily married. It’s not time to ditch that cable box just yet. And while you still have it, go ahead and tune in to my Fox and Friends show this weekend.

Clayton Morris is a Fox and Friends host and the tech godfather behind the Gadgets and Games show. Follow Clayton's adventures online on Twitter @ClaytonMorris and by reading his daily updates at his blog.