GoogleTV with no cableTV?
September 22, 2011 11:36 AM   Subscribe

Can GoogleTV add value to my HTPC setup, without cable TV?

We cut the cord on cable TV about a year ago, and haven't looked back:

I have the basic broadcast channels still coming in over the coax wire.

I have a Linux box plugged in to the TV via HDMI, with which we mostly use a combination of XBMC and Firefox to cover lots of media options (including Youtube, Pandora, Hulu, and Amazon VOD, amongst others).

I have an HDHomeRun box which works as a DVR with mythtv software. For the sake of argument, let's assume that I currently have it properly configured.

I have a PS3 which we use for watching disc-based media, and currently use for Netflix (because Linux and Netflix don't get along very well).

For remote controls, we use 1 IR remote for the TV, 1 IR remote for the stereo system, a Bluetooth remote for the PS3, and an old android phone for controlling stuff on the Linux box over wifi.

Recently reading news about the upcoming Harmony Link, I wondered if it would work for us to at least reduce our remote control count a bit.
But then.. I realized that the Logitech Revue, which does the exact same thing plus runs GoogleTV on top of that, costs exactly the same amount now ($99).

So, here's the real tl;dr question:
Logitech Revue says that one of the "requirements" is a cable box. If I don't have a cable box, and instead I pipe my Home Theater PC through it via HDMI, will I still get additional value from the Google TV features? What is the feature that it adds for which it says a cable box is a mandatory requirement?

I know that it would centralize a lot of the things I already do, even though there's overlap, and might do them better -- Netflix directly on the GoogleTV instead of needing to use the PS3 bluetooth remote; Amazon VOD without the clunky interface of using Firefox and the inevitable Flash issues. etcetera etcetera.
Am definitely considering the purchase anyway; I just want to make sure it will function properly.
posted by jozxyqk to Technology (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The cablebox requirement is likely just for timeshifting broadcast TV, and you might be able to get by without me the requirement is there to make sure you have a separate tuner available for the IR blaster to control.

How powerful is the Linux box? Have you considered running things through WMC/Windows 7 at any point? My only concerns are that you might be limiting your flexibility with GoogleTV (getting to things like ABC, Hulu, etc which I believe are blocked). I tend to shy away from appliances that weld the hood shut and have limitations based on corporate policies. With Windows 7 you'll have the widest range of options, and there's plenty of nifty hacks within WMC these days that can allow seamless launching of 3rd party content providers.
posted by samsara at 11:59 AM on September 22, 2011

Of course, there's workarounds too for the Hulu issue if you're into tinkering.
posted by samsara at 12:02 PM on September 22, 2011

You probably won't get significant value. The browser is nice but not really fast (I bet it'd be faster if I turned off flash), and things like codec support will be better on your HTPC. I've been running a Google TV for a few days with nothing going into it but Internet, and it works fine. Once the Android Market update hits, there may be a stronger argument for it. I replaced my HTPC with a Google TV because I needed the PC for other projects. The Google TV is easier to use, but no where near as feature-filled.
posted by jeffkramer at 12:06 PM on September 22, 2011

Response by poster: The HTPC is powerful enough to do Hulu, etc, by itself; I specifically built it with a VDPAU-capable video card and all that fun stuff. I'm not looking to replace everything that it does.

The reason I would go with GoogleTV is that I was already thinking about spending the hundred bucks on a "remote control aggregator" anyway, and might as well see if I could squeeze some GTV functionality out of it.
And like I said, the interfaces to some of the web-only stuff I use the HTPC for, might be a "smoother experience" on the Revue.
But I would certainly not abandon the use of the Linux box as well; I could control both the PC and the Revue with the same Android device (using different software, but that's still better than multiple physical remotes).
posted by jozxyqk at 1:03 PM on September 22, 2011

Response by poster: Followup question, though: Can't I use the Android "Harmony Remote" software along with the IR blaster to change the channel on the regular TV?
posted by jozxyqk at 1:50 PM on September 22, 2011

If you get the blu-ray player google tv it might make your life easier. It has an hdmi IN so you can hook up your htpc to the google tv blu-ray player and not have to switch sources when you want to play a blu-ray.
posted by majortom1981 at 4:50 AM on September 23, 2011

Response by poster: majortom1981, I think you misunderstood my question.

Rephrased, it is this:

I am looking at spending under $100 on a "universal remote control" solution, with which I can use an android phone as the primary controller.
For $99, I can get something that does this, and also has GoogleTV features. The Logitech Revue.
But I wanted to know two things:

1) if the GoogleTV features would still work with my unique setup.
2) if the Harmony Remote software in Android, via the Google TV and IR blasters, can control things that aren't cableboxes.

Is this a clearer question?
posted by jozxyqk at 8:13 AM on September 23, 2011

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