The trackpad's mouse button is also perilously close to the Back and Home buttons -- on a number of occasions, I ended up a page back when I was trying to select a video. The OK button sometimes operates like a mouse click, sometimes not. And while the picture-in-picture mode is great for keeping, say, a sports game running while you do something else, it only works for live TV streams. For example, you can't minimize a Netflix on-demand movie or show while you go to the Internet Movie Database to figure out where you've seen an actor before.
The odd thing about the video quality of this first entry into the world of Google TV is that it varied. Most of the time, it was as good as the streams from the Roku and Apple TV. However, on my home Wi-Fi network (which tends to get a bit busy from time to time), I would occasionally notice a few seconds of HDTV that were, frankly, far from HD. Then it would suddenly resolve into something as clear and brilliant as -- if not better than -- the Roku and Apple TV streams.
At a Glance
Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.5 in.
Video output: 1080p HDTV
Audio output: 5.1 surround sound
Remote control: IR keyboard controller, Android/iOS apps, optional Mini Controller ($129.99)
Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n, Ethernet, two USB ports, HDMI in and out
Basic media channels: YouTube, Pandora, Crackle, Blip.tv, Vevo, others
Premium media channels: Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, Dish Network Video On Demand (for Dish satellite subscribers), HBO Go
I took this to be a function of the box's ability to adapt to varying signal strength, and as compromises go, it was better than having the video just pause while the buffer filled again.
Google TV is an ambitious project that spans the worlds of computing and television. It's inevitable that occasionally you'll need to stop and wonder whether the Logitech Revue is going to behave like a computer or a television, or not quite like either. But if your budget stretches to three times the price of an Apple TV or Roku XD|S, it's more likely to transform your TV-watching experience than any other product in this roundup.
If Apple TV and Google TV feel like slick corporate TV networks, Roku is more like a 1980s local cable station: It gives you access to network feeds, sure, but there's a real enthusiast's feel to it. You need to root around a bit to get to the good stuff -- even visit a couple of Roku fan sites to see what they have done with Roku's open API architecture. But if you like that home-brew club feel, Roku's a rewarding product.