Logitech computer specialist unveils Google TV boxes


SAN FRANCISCO — Logitech on Wednesday unveiled the first “Google TV” boxes touted as merging online content and traditional television offerings. Logitech Revue boxes were priced at US$300 each and will be available in the United States by the end of October, according to the Swiss company specializing in keyboards, webcams and other peripherals for computers. “With our line of products for Google TV, Logitech will help redefine the user experience in the digital living room,” said Logitech chief executive Gerald Quindlen. At a press event in San Francisco, Logitech demonstrated the boxes along with a palm-sized Mini Controller priced at US$130 and a TV camera accessory for video conferencing with a price tag of US$150. A keyboard that will be bundled with Revue boxes will be sold separately for US$100, according to Logitech. “Google TV combines the power of search, a full Web browser, and Android apps with the TV experience you know and love,” said Mario Queiroz, vice president of product management for Google. Google said Monday that Amazon, the NBA, Netflix, The New York Times, NBC Universal, USA Today and others will provide content and applications for Google TV. Google TV, which the Internet search giant unveiled in May at a software developers conference in San Francisco, is to be available this month. Developed in partnership with Sony, Logitech and Intel, Google TV allows users to mesh television viewing with surfing the Web. Google launched a website, Google.com/TV, that provides an explanation of how Google TV works and gives information about how to purchase an Internet-enabled TV from Sony or a set-top box from Logitech. Google TV, which is powered by Google’s Android software and Chrome Web browser, can be accessed using the Sony TVs or set-top boxes from Logitech that route Web content to existing TV sets. Logitech boxes feature computer keyboards that act as Google TV remote controls. On-screen home pages let people search television programming as they do the Internet. “Smart TV delivers a truly integrated experience, with broadcast and the Internet united on one screen,” said Wilfred Martis, a general manager at Intel Digital Home Group. Logitech used an Intel Atom processor to power its box. Google is not the first technology company to attempt to marry the TV set and the Internet. A number of electronics manufacturers already offer Web-enabled televisions or digital set-top boxes. Yahoo! jumped into the Internet television arena more than 18 months ago and Apple recently upgraded its offering, Apple TV. A second-generation Apple TV device priced at US$99 was introduced in September, offering a stark price comparison. “Revue is a nice implementation of Google TV and certainly a richer experience than Apple TV, but it costs three times as much,” said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley. Revue boxes and peripherals were available for pre-order online at Logitech.com, Amazon.com and BestBuy.com.