The Logitech Revue will be released in a few weeks, probably by the end of October. I'm sure some of you are wondering whether to wait for this Google TV set-top box or just pick up an Apple TV unit right now. Here's how the two internet TV products differ.
First off, if you want Google TV, Logitech will be the product to have it. There will be more coming but until the Revue launches, you can't get Google TV at all. Hope that's clear.
Turn on, Plug in, Surf Away
What can you plug into each unit? That's actually an important question if you want your Internet TV to talk to everything else. Both do wireless networking nicely, with 802.11 a/b/g/n (yup, four ways to WiFi).
Apple TV: HDMI, SPDIF (audio optical out), 10/100 Base-T Ethernet, micro-USB (one of each of these ports).
Logitech Revue: HDMI, SPDIF, 10/100 Base-T Ethernet (one of each of these), two USB 2.0 ports, two ports for external IR blasters (see below).
Logitech can do more with USB, which is a win if you have something for it to do with two ports.
Apple TV: Keeping with their minimalist packaging design, you get the Apple TV unit, a remote, a power cable, and the documentation.
Logitech Revue: You might as well buy it at a big box store, because you'll be bringing home a big box. Besides the Revue unit and power supply, you get a keyboard that has an integrated remote built right in (batteries included!), an infrared "mini blaster" to control IR devices not in direct sight of the Revue, an HDMI cable, and the documentation.
More in the Revue box: A controller with a full keyboard, the HDMI cable, the IR mini blaster, and the batteries.
The Market vs The Store
Apple TV: Can you get to the App Store? Well, you can get to iTunes and buy music and video. Apps are off limits unless you can convince your Apple TV unit that it's not an Apple TV, by doing a little hacking.
Logitech Revue: The Android Market will be supported by the Revue, but probably won't be preloaded when it launches. Some existing Android apps won't work on the Revue because they use a phone or an accelerometer, for instance. There will be a Google TV portion of Android Market set up by early next year. So far Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO GO, TBS, NBA, Cartoon Network, Pandora, Twitter, Napster, Blip.tv, and Youtube apps will be pre-loaded onto the Revue. Google is negotiating with Hulu for their content as well.
The biggest difference is that Google TV apps won't be charging you per show, but some will have subscription costs. Netflix, for example, requires an existing subscription to use.
The Price is Right?
Apple TV: $99, available right now. Additional cost for buying video from iTunes.
Logitech Revue: $299, $175 if you're a Dish Network subscriber. But you have a few weeks to wait to buy it.
Apple TV costs less up front. What do you get for that $99 besides access to the iTune store, where you can buy video? Will it still end up costing less after you use it for a year? What apps will be for sale on the Revue that would be worth buying? How many of them will require a subscription fee? And is access to the whole Worldwide Web enough to justify that price difference? Is being able to make video calls with the $149 Logitech HD videocam accessory enough to make the Revue worth it to you?