aNewDomain.net Reviews: The GoogleTV product line is ho-hum these days. And Logitech’s launch of the $300 Revue arrived to mediocre reviews, which didn’t bode well for the GoogleTV operation. Though the now less expensive Revue is looking up, there are more options now you should check out. Especially with the upgrading of GoogleTV software from version 3.1 to 3.2, other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are building on the momentum. Sony, LG Electronics, Vizio and, now, Hisense, are releasing Google TV-based set top boxes.
Image credits: Ant Pruitt for aNewDomain.net
Now, I’ll disclose that I purchased and do actively own and use the Logitech Revue GoogleTV. But I’ve been waiting for a better user experience than it offers considering the 300 smackaroos it set early buyers back. Hisense has offered exactly that — a better UI, and better performance, too — with its Hisense Pulse for Google TV set top box.
And look at the form factor. At dimensions of 4x4x2 (LxWxH in inches), the device is more compact than the Logitech offering, too. Check out my unit, below.
The Pulse connects to your TV or existing cable or satellite set top box via the typical HDMI cable. You connect to your local area network (LAN) via WiFi or Ethernet hardwire. The remaining ports on the Pulse are for power and an IR blaster for the remote control.
Back to the user experience, let’s start with set up. I found setting up the Hisense Pulse system relatively easy to do once you’ve connected it up. Its Android setup wizard sets up your existing or new Google account for connectivity to the Google Play ecosystem. That’s pretty much like setting up a new Android smartphone or tablet.
After you set it up, there are additional steps to set up the remote control. The remote is big — like a fat candy bar. That’s big enough to hold several buttons and a track pad. I appreciate that it’s small enough to not break the bulk barrier.
I should note the trackpad is unusual. It isn’t the typical smooth pad you find on laptops or garden variety desktop computer peripherals these days. Rather, it’s got a lightly textured surface. I loved it. It is shockingly and suprisingly great for the UI navigation.
The back of the remote is a full QWERTY keyboard with additional directional buttons. The keys are large enough for efficient typing and complete with function keys. There are also additional UI buttons available — including the menu key and the home key.
Overall, the remote control is good. So is the UI. To a point.
If there’s a catch, and there is, it’s that the Pulse remote needs a a back light in a bad way. If you’re watching TV in a dark room, good luck finding it quickly. No backlighting makes it practically invisible. Sadly, you’ll fumble with your Pulse remote in a dark room until you master where all of the keys are from memory.
But that’s an easy fix down the line. Bottom line: The Hisense Pulse GoogleTV is leaps and bounds better than Logitech’s Revue offering. The Pulse offers smooth UI navigation as a result, not just of UX design, but also because of more efficient memory, graphics, cache and overall CPU processing. As a result, the apps are ultra responsive and I found TV playback is flawless when I connected it to my current cable and satellite systems. Speaking of GPU processing, it is so much improved on the Pulse over what the Logitech Revue offers that it is visually noticeable. Menus and app sport vivid colors, rapidly rendering.
The best news, there was no user interface to relearn and all the apps I had before I still use because, of course, my existing Google account has them backed up. Streaming content via HTTP Live Stream (HLS) or DLNA for viewing 1080p images by satellite or local server is easy — effortless, even.
At $99, the Hisense Pulse offers great bang for the buck and I highly recommend it both as a great product — and as one more step toward cutting the cord. A path most of us here at aNewDomain.net are definitely on, if my informal survey is any guide.