The Android OS meets broadcasting in a hybrid design
The Logitech Revue is a recent arrival to the market for Web-connected set-top boxes (STB) and one of two hardware implementations to date of Google TV, an STB environment based on a variant of the search company's Android smartphone OS. Not yet officially available in the UK, Logitech has said that it does see the country as a potentially key market because of high consumption of Internet video (e.g. BBC iPlayer, Channel 4's 4oD).
The US box features a number of bundled services for streaming media (such as Netflix video and Pandora audio), but one of its other attractions was to have been an ability to access non-bundled content via an incorporated Chrome browser.
However, several leading US content providers objected to this – Hulu, one of the largest US suppliers of video, charges subscriptions for access to its STB-aimed Hulu Plus service – and have blocked Revue connections. Reviewers of Revue units imported to the UK have reported success in launching the iPlayer.
Negotiations here have continued between Logitech, Google and the US content community but until they are resolved, the issue is one obvious reason why the Revue is said to have seen initially sluggish sales (although the company is officially satisfied with progress since a late-2010 US launch).
Another likely detractor was the original $300 price tag, although the box is now available for around $250 and in some cases $200, the latter being comparable to other Web-enabled STBs.
The Chrome browser can be launched to view sites, social networks and webmail while watching TV at the same time, using a 'dual view' option, as well as in standalone mode. Thus, it is also offered as a PC/laptop replacement for those with light computing needs. In this respect, another important feature is a full QWERTY keyboard remote control (a smaller Android-based app is also available).
The Revue can also download and run apps purchased from the Android store and is in-the-field upgradeable.
Given its mix of STB and stripped down PC features, the hardware implementation is very much a hybrid inside although the industrial design is similar to rival products such as the Roku or the Boxee.
'Electronically, the Revue is primarily an Intel design featuring the CE4150 SoC Atom based media processor,' says Wayne Lam, principal analyst for IHS iSuppli. 'It comes with a full gigabyte of SDRAM and 4GB of NAND flash storage from Hynix as well as another 1GB of NAND storage – likely for the OS – from Samsung.'
The overall component count is 1,503 (excluding box contents), of which 1,406 components reside on the main PCB. In comparison, the second generation Apple TV previous, which featured in E&T's March Teardown, has an overall count of just 869.
Given the design strategy the main PCB resembles that of a typical PC motherboard with over 1,300 passive components making up nearly 85 per cent of the overall complexity of the device
The Revue has dual USB connectors, two HDMI outputs, an S/PDIF digital audio port, a hard-wired Ethernet connection and a WiFi-based wireless connection. As well as the keyboard remote and power cable, the product is bundled with a single HDMI cable.
The analysis points to the sourcing and manufacturing of the bulk of components from China. The IHS iSuppli team has based its production numbers also on a lifetime production of two million units. Finally, as noted above, any UK version of the device would require some design changes.
The total manufacturing and component cost is thought to be $112.34, although this does not include any IP or software not bundled with those parts. However, Android is an open source OS, which will help to control those costs.
Analyst group IHS iSuppli provides detailed teardowns for many leading electronics devices. Find out more about its commercial reports at www.isuppli.com