$299 is Expensive

At yesterday’s Logitech Google TV event, Logitech officially announced the Logitech Revue set-top box with Google TV. The device comes with a wireless keyboard with integrated touchpad and directional buttons, an HDMI cable, one IR blaster, and a couple of AA batteries. The Revue will be released at the end of this month but you can pre-order today for $299.

That’s right, $299. The very same price point that Apple’s Apple TV abandoned over a year ago.  A price point that happens to be three times the cost of Apple’s current Apple TV offering or five times the cost of Roku’s low-end offering.

Price points like that aren’t going skyrocket Google TV into the stratosphere. At $299 the Logitech Revue competes more with game consoles than it does with the Apple TV and Roku’s set-top boxes. But, with the Apple TV and Roku boxes you’re getting an entirely new television experience, one that  I would argue is much better than Google TV’s. With Google TV you’re getting a set of internet-connected features glommed on top of your current television experience, with IR blasters in between. If you were to spend $199 or $299 on an Xbox 360 you could use it as a media center extender for the Windows computer in the office and you’d also get Netflix streaming and high-definition gaming.

I’m sure the ability to search for television shows is a great feature but it’s certainly not worth $299, especially when you consider competing options. Another big selling point mentioned by Logitech is the ability to video chat with the optional Logitech TV Cam. Not a terrible idea, but at $149 just for the webcam I suspect that most people would rather keep the $149 and just video chat on their computer with it’s built-in webcam. Heck, at $149 you’re not too far off from an iPhone 4 with FaceTime.

Oddly enough, I think the single biggest selling point is that the software is built by Google. Contrast that with the Apple TV whose selling point is 99-cent TV show rentals, $3.99-4.99 HD movie rentals, and the best Netflix streaming experience available and I’m not sure anyone would be able to justify the extra $200 just for the Google logo.