“Are consumers ready to use a keyboard with their TV?”
You might have noticed that we have been focussing pretty hard on the recent string of “Stream To Your TV” devices launched, Steve and I each got an AppleTV and Eric seems to be holding out for the GoogleTV. So you can imagine that this has stirred up a few little debates, including some heated discussion in the upcoming DadCast Episode 23. However Google’s recent hardware pricing announcement not only put a spoiler on the discussion but appears to totally fail at creating any kind of excitement at all.
So if you’re into watching train wrecks… Please do read on.
I admit that I was already raking Eric pretty heavily over the coals about the idea of having to buy a whole new Sony LCD TV just to be able to access Google’s streaming content service and even went so far as to mock him with the idea of possibly bricking a $2000 TV while flashing it’s ROM in order to make an Android update. But when I got wind of some the pricing on the set-top boxes from Andy Ihnatko I pretty much freaked out. Further investigation, led me to this Ars Technica article highlighting the Logitech Revue (pictured above) which is not only a $300 set top box but also comes with a full sized keyboard so you can watch TV? Really, my six year old needs a full size keyboard in order to pull up her favourite Tinker-bell movie and watch TV? I can just imagine my 20 month old twins using it as food tray or even worse hacking into it with an on-slot of random key presses as they luge the couch cushions on it. How did this ever make sense to anyone? It’s not as if Television Remote Control is a new thing and we need to get used to it. I’ve pretty much been using a remote control for almost 30 years and sure the new ones for the digital cable or satellite have a few more buttons, but we hardly use those. The one thing that blows my mind the most about this Full Keyboard remote is that LOGITECH is making it. YES, the very same people who pretty cornered the simplified All-in-Remote market with it’s Harmony line. Could they not see that a full size keyboard was bad idea? Even Sony’s remote is atrocious and looks more like something Marc Garneau would have used to manipulate the Canada Arm on the outer rims of the Earth’s gravitational pull. It’s just so hard to believe that Google couldn’t even see these overly complex monstrosities would be doing nothing to help push the idea of the GoogleTV to an audience that have already seen the AppleTV and the Roku box. The one redeeming factor is that you will eventually be able to use your Android phone as remote for the various system but this would be yet another $100-$200 purchase on top of your set top box.
Which bring me back to the price: $300 for the set top box and $2000 for the complete TV package. Personally, I think Andy Ihnatko summed it up best:
Holy jumping iguanas. If it were close to the $99 prices of the other network-enabled TV thingies, we’d have had a real horse race. Even if they got it in under $200, it’d have been an interesting development.
But $300? That’s true Whiskey Tango Foxtrot pricing.
You see both the Roku box and the AppleTV are priced at a price point that most of us don’t even have to think about it anymore. Couple the box with the a cool service like NetFlix.ca or Hulu, if it were available in Canada, and you’d be all set. But when you start having to figure in associated phone apps or replacing your already nearly new TV, things get complicated. With both the Roku box and the Apple TV having such a small footprint, taking the device into another room or even up to the cottage suddenly starts to look pretty good. And at that price you might even consider getting one of each or one for the cottage.
We do tend to put our Schultzter into a position of having to defend Google time and time again, but in all fairness, not even he should have to defend the player that comes the table later than everyone else and then proceeds to price himself out of the market. Regardless of the initial extra feature set, this is the day of betas and rolling updates. Apple, Roku and to an extent Netflix have priced themselves into and attractive affordable position for a new product that until now had only been the domain of Hobbyist and Media Centre Enthuiast. We’ll have to see how this plays out in the end, but I have a feeling that GoogleTV will have all the makings of a Buzz Wave.