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Logitech Revue and Google TV: The future of TV?

Is Google TV about to change the world? We're sceptical frankly, because we've heard it all 10 times before, but the Big G's pared-down, speed is everything philosophy might just work.

The Logitech Revue is the first stand-alone Google TV box to hit the shops in the US. The $300 (£190) box is designed to combine your TV with the whole Internet and add a smattering of TV from your cable or satellite provider. The idea is, Google ties all these things together, and does what it does best: allowing you to search for stuff incredibly quickly.

Although currently only slated for release in the US, we thought it was worth taking a look at both Google TV and the Logitech hardware to see if this is going to change the world of TV or if it's simply the answer to a problem that doesn't really exist.

To get the best out of Google TV, you need to use it with a compatible TV service. In the US this is provided by satellite broadcaster Dish Network. Pairing the Logitech Revue with Dish PVRs will enable you to search not only upcoming TV shows, but also things you have already recorded. Use Google TV with another service, say one that isn't directly compatible, and you'll still be able to use it to plan recordings, but you'll be stuck doing so with a clunky infrared blaster device, making Google TV a bit like a Web 2.0 version of TiVo.

The Logitech Revue -- and other Google TV hardware, such as the also-announced Sony TV -- also opens a portal to on-demand services and Web video. For example, Hulu might be accessible via a custom app, but if not, the built-in Chrome-based browser can still deliver video to you as it would on a computer. That's a move that might upset Hulu in particular, as it's tried to prevent such access in the past.

The ability to search both upcoming TV events, things you've recorded and content from on-demand services is certainly an exciting idea. It would mean that, in theory, it should be impossible to miss a TV show. This is the cornerstone of what makes Google TV interesting.

The Logitech -- and other Google TV devices -- is controllable from a mobile phone, including the iPhone and Android handsets. The Revue comes with a keyboard-style controller that'll look ridiculous in your lounge -- they should check out the Boxee Box remote for an example of how a Qwerty keyboard can elegantly be integrated into a remote control.

Things that excite us less, specifically about the Logitech hardware, are the $150 (£95) optional webcam attachment, with which you can video-call friends and family. You'll need to communicate with other Google products for this to work, which means that, like Apple's FaceTime, it instantly becomes a niche product. With an Android-style app store launching next year, however, it's entirely possible that third parties will be able to use video hardware for their own services -- we're looking at you, Skype.

Certainly, there are things about the Logitch Revue that excite us and things we think are idiotic. It makes far more sense to build Google TV into cable and satellite boxes than it does to have them seperate. That way, listings can be searched quickly, and recordings scheduled as well as on-demand content accessed. Pair Google TV with a service like Virgin's in the UK, and we think it would work brilliantly. Sell it as a set-top box that has to control recordings from IR blasters, and we start to feel that sinking feeling we get with tedious, over-complicated technology.