It’s not often that leaked pics of set-top boxes cause the internet to go crazy, but the Boxee TV image leaked earlier this month did exactly that. It seemed like a cord-cutter’s dream: it offered a TV tuner with a coax input, WiFi access to Netflix and other services, and threw a DVR on top of that. Today Boxee’s streamer was officially announced, and it only got better: it starts at a meagre $100, and the DVR service is connected to the cloud–that’s right, you can upload, for instance, a football game, and watch it from anywhere with internet access.
The TV feed gets Boxee’s UI on top, which is pretty good. It’s also a major improvement for people who watch over-the-air TV who don’t have a visual channel guide. The only apps available at the moment are Netflix, Pandora, Vimeo, Vudu, and YouTube. So no Amazon Prime or Hulu Plus to start, but hopefully that can be changed with a software update.
The hardware is handsome, too. It’s about the size of two Rokus, or every Blu-ray player ever made, so it should fit right underneath your TV. The ports and options are spare: you’ve got two USB ports, an HDMI port for output, a coax port for input, and the ability to plug an ethernet cable in, for more reliable streaming. The hardware’s made by D-Link, who have a reputation for building solid devices.
But there are some drawbacks. That cool cloud DVR service? It’ll cost you $15 a month–almost the price of basic cable. Plus, there’s no cable card support, so if basic cable ever gets encrypted like they’ve been threatening, you could end up with a $100 brick. But that seems like a small price to pay for the first mainstream set-top box that integrates over-the-air broadcasts with a DVR.
The Boxee will be available on November 1st with DVR service available to select markets.
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