First experiences with GoogleTV

I just got a free GoogleTV from Google as part of a congress and wand to write my experiences as I give it a test...
The device is a Logitech Revue.

The plastic feels cheap and the first thing I noticed was that I got shipped a unit  with a US power plug (This is Germany and it was a German conference and we are just a few month away from the all-Europe launch of GoogleTV).
The power supply however is 100-240V and I found a compatible cable around the house.

Switching it on I noticed it having HDMI in and out.  However there is no connector for my satelite dish. I wonder how I'm supposed to watch TV with it. For the time being the TV signal stays connected to by buggy Samsung SmartTV.

Next issue: I removed the strip and powered on the remote keyboard. The box says it cannot find it's remote and that I am supposed to switch it on. What it does not say is that the remote is only ever detected if I press a button on it too. (Took a while of waiting to find that out by accident.)

Next step: This is the first HDMI device ever that wants me to define the edges of the screen in a manual 4 step process. I though HDMI was digital and never needed this crap.

Nest stop: Internet. It can do Ethernet and Wifi. Wifi however apparently only in 2.4GHz and not in the less crowded 5GHz band. I hope it's at least 802.11n and not 11g.
Entering the password is very easy with the keyboard but it feels super cheap. Quite a turndown from a company that has a name of building good keyboards.
BTW, as I guessed after that US power plug...the keyboard has a US layout. At least, being a developer, I'm used to use this layout every once in a while.
All the UI up to this point is also in english and there is no language selection before the setup.

Next step: Installing updates. Quite fast. No surprises. Reboots multiple times but at least it shows progress bars that actually move.
For a few seconds I noticed that the device actually has a fan and that it can be very loud. But only for a few seconds.

Looks like after the updates I have to do all the setup steps again. Screen size, looking up and typing the Wifi password,... I suddenly however see new options like selecting to not use DHCP in Wifi.

Then it's entering my Google account password.
It can backup and restore my data to that account and automatically installed at least the OIFileManager. I'll have to check what other apps from my Android cellphone and tablet have found their way onto the GoogleTV.

After accepting the EULA, be careful not to accidentaly check [X] Send me SPAM about logitech products.

Then it wants my ZIP-code...but not the country. It thinks the German ZIP-code of 79110 is in Amarillo, Texas. I guess I won't get any "accurate programming information".

Next step: TV...this is going to get interesting.
It asks me if I have a set-top box.  No, I haven't.  Like every TV I know the Samsung SmartTV has the tuner build-in and connects to dish, cable and/or terrestrial TV itself. Else it would not BE a TV but just a dumb monitor.

Remote..it wants to know my TV brand and model. It does know the Samsung UE40D8090  and it looks like my GoogleTV-remote can be a remote for my TV.
Given the rather advanced functionality of the TV I guess I'll continue to use my Android-phone and the original remote for that job.
It asks me what input-port my GoogleTV is on my TV. I guess that's needed for the remote-control part.
Setup tells me that I can: Turn the TV on/off, Switch input to Google-TV and control the volume. ...I expected a BIT more but In guess that's enough to grab just that one remote and the one from the stereo to use GoogleTV instead of jougling 3 remote controls.
Later I found out that pressing "TV" on the remote does not switch the input channel of the TV back from the GoogleTV -input to live-TV but instead turns off the TV set.

Now it asks me for my VCR. I can't select the already chosen Samsung SmartTV that has a build in VCR (like more modern TV-sets nowadays).

The following advertisement video is not 16:9 and does not use the full screen. It has black borders on all 4 edges. Why did I have to set this up again?

Then it's automatically shutting down.  WTF?

Oh, BTW: it's 60HZ.  I fear that I'll get artifacts watching normal, european 50HZ and 25Hz footage due to the 3:2 pulldown to get them to americal 60Hz. At least the TV-set does support both natively.

Done...let's see what apps we have..
My expectation is to find either very few apps at all or many apps that don't work outside the US.
First thing: YouTube. The obvious choice.
I can select it, then click "My YouTube" to see my own channel's videos....however it is sitting at "signing in" for minutes now and nothing happens.
Oh...that is not a notifcation that it is currently signing in, that's a button!!!
(Why does it say "signing in" and not "press to sign in" then?)  I can select an account.
Great!! I didn't hope for multi-account capabilities. I guess families or >1 did complain. ;)

Next app: "live TV".  It tells me that I have no set-top box but allows to choose "generic video source" instead. Well..this is rediculus. I guess it only ever supports video via HDMI-in. Didn't the website say it supports satelite TV? Whatever should I do with a GoogleTV that does not support TV?

Next: "Music"  ..."Please go to http://music.google.com/ on your PC to sync your music library".
Hello? Didn't you hear that Google Music it not avaliable in Germany yet? In fact it's not avaliable anywhere except the US and canada!
Aparently I cannot add music to my device except by using a service that is not even announced to become avaliable some day anywhere on my continent.

"TV&Movies" ...a unified selection of live TV and all video rental services it has (YouTube, Amazon, ...).
I only see strange US shows that I have never even heard of.

"Netflix" Are you a Netflix member? no=>Sorry, Netflix is not available in your country.
That's one of the features top entries at the buttom of the screen. Right below a black area that is supposedly intended to show live TV. Except this box doesn't have an input for live TV.

"Market" OMG. I have never seen Android Market so empty! The only app that is not preinstalled anyway in "My Apps" is OI File Manager. Not even my K-9 mail is there.
But it does display "NBA Game Time for Google TV" wich is certainly not any of "My Apps".
WTF is the NBA anyway? Some sport stuff?
There is no Gmail here! No Google Calendar! Not even Picasa!
My regular TV has access to more Google services that this GoogleTV!!!
Searching for "mail" is supposed to show screens after screens of apps...there is not a single email app in GoogleTV.
The one video rental service I actually have an account with "maxdome"(never actually rented something) ...has no GoogleTV app.
The store is so small, it has but a front-page and 2 categories: "other apps" and "other games".
I cannot uninstall CNBC, Napster, NBA or Netflix even though they don't even work on this continent.

"Podcats" I'm surprised to find such an app. First thing: It is empty. I would have expected my podcasts from Google Reader in here. Searching for some of the top 10 German podcasts shows...no results. (Chaosradio, Lautsprecher, CRE)
I can't find an option to add a podcast by URL.

"Photos": It supports Picasa and Flickr accounts.  Looks like even more then one Google account is supported at a time. It is quite slow but at least it's finally an app to watch 3D photos from 2 Google Accounts in full screen and full resolution on my TV. (Samsung has issues with sometimes only getting 240x??? images and supports only 1 account.)

"Pandora" Nice startup-logo but nothing happens. No reaction, no menu, nothing at all.

Preliminary result: In it's current state it's useless. Both in hardware (no TV) and software (basic Google apps missing, let alone 3rd party apps).

"options": For some reason I can select "Allow mock location" in developer options. I can't imagine any more stationary device then a TV set.
"Chrome to TV". Aparently I can push links from a Crome browser to the TV. Problem is: I don't use Chrome. I'm using Firefox and DolphinHD because they sync passwords among each other.

"Storage": 520MB free internal storage and I an enable external FTP access.
1: FTP is insecure and I won't allow it on MY network. sftp is a minimum.
2: What to use FTP storage for if this device has no TV to record.
It seems this GoogleTV does not know about DLNA servers on my network. So my regular TV can watch videos, music, ... from my file server but my GoogleTV can not.

"Time and Location":  "Network provided time" puts me on GMT-5. I am however in GMT+2 here.
I cannot choose an ISO date format 2012-03-30 nor the national 30.03.2012 . Only permutations of this strange XX/YY/ZZZZ US-format.

Last quest: How to turn this thing off?


New field monitor for focus

about this blog
I haven't written here in a while.
It has been way too tempting to post 1-2 lines on Google+ instead and be done with it.
I think in a world of Twitter and G+, blogs should be about "quality content" in the sense that an entry has more then a paragraph and a single photo or link.

what recently happened
So, what have I been up to in the last days?
After having constructed and 3d-printed so much film and photo equipment last year,
I'm trying to learn how to use it properly. ;)
Working my way through books about setting up light, image composition, exposing for film, cutting video for different results,...
Experimenting with Strobist like still photography and getting experienced with pulling manual focus on a moving camera.
There lies the problem. My best lenses are the Leica/Panasonic 25mm f1.4 and the incredible Voightländer 25mm f0.95 .
These two babies can have a very shallow field of depth if you want it.
That looks great for portraits or close-ups but is impossible to focus in video on the camera display alone.

topic: field monitors for DSLRs
I have been and am still looking for an affordable field monitor that can help with this issue.
What am I'm looking for?
  • At least 800x480 if not 720p. 
I tried that resolution in a shop and it allows me to see differences in focus clearly that are unnoticeable on the camera display.
  • At least peaking (superimposed edge-detection, highlighting the object in focus)
Here is what I found so far:

SmallHD DP6 (too expensive)
Great! Just perfect.
Does everything you want and does it great.
The problem: The 1000eur price tag.
I would consider it very, very carefully if...it where not clear that in a few years we'll get such a monitor in FullHD. Maybe even 3D autostereoscopic.
(Looks like Lilliput has something like that)

Marshall V-LCD50 (still too expensive)
Still very expensive at 650eur.
It does  peaking AND false colors for focus.

Sony-CLM-V55 (nearly there)
does peaking and 1:1 (zoom in to show 1 camera pixel as 1 display pixel)

Lilliput 667GL (too cheap)
This is too cheap.
170 eur is okay but there is no focus assist at all.

Calumet branded one (forget it)
Forget about this one.
380eur and no focus helping at all.
Saturation is too low even at maximum.

F&V F1 (cheap!!!)
200eur with peaking.
Sounds great!
I would get this one if I did not find....

Lilliput 5D-II/O/P (YES!!!)
360eur (320eur including customs and 19% import sales tax)
this sounds like the PERFECT one!
The old "/o" had nothing but the newer "/o/p" model looks great.
1024x600 (600p) ...strange resolution but better then 480p.
HDMI in + out ...well...I have no use for the out part but it could be nice.
The real deal is:
  • Peaking (highlighting the object in focus)
  • Zebra (pattern in overexposed areas)
  • False Color (coloring over+underexposed areas)
  • Zoom (1x to 8x including 1:1)
  • Image Freeze,...
  • Specification
  • Review
THAT'S the one I want to try. Then I'll update this blog posting with the result...