Boxee TV Gets Official, Packs DVR, Unlimited Cloud-Storage for Recordings, Slimmed Down App Selection

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Images of the Boxee TV leaked last week, along with some early details about what to expect from the Boxee Box successor, but the Boxee TV is now official. As anticipated, the Boxee TV sports two TV tuners that finally add the DVR capabilities that everyone thought the Boxee Live TV would add to the Boxee Box, but the new DVR functionality probably won’t be what most people were expecting. The Boxee TV does not come with internal storage for recordings, and though there are two USB ports, external storage is only for local media playback. The Boxee TV will save your recordings to the cloud instead. The cloud-based DVR will cost $15 a month and will be gradually rolled out, starting with 7 major markets at launch and then to other markets based on demand.

The Boxee TV will be a major departure from the Boxee Box, and not just because of the inclusion of DVR functionality. The new device eschews the distinctive cube/pyramid stylings of the original in favor of more traditional rectangular settop box dimensions. The monthly fee is only required for those interested in the cloud DVR; everyone else will appreciate the significantly reduced $99 price tag. Unfortunately, also reduced will be the number of apps available on the Boxee TV. The wide range of apps for accessing online content sources was a distinctive feature of the Boxee software and Boxee Box, but the Boxee TV will only ship a handful of apps for major services such as Netflix, Pandora, and YouTube. The Boxee TV also will not support as wide a range of file types and containers as the Boxee Box for local media playback. Finally, the once-innovative remote control with a QWERTY keyboard on the flip side has been retired in favor of a more traditional remote control.

I suspect the Boxee TV is going to be a tough sell. The $15 dollar monthly fee for the DVR is going to be a tough sell, and heaven forbid you have an ISP with bandwidth limits. Every gigabyte of recorded TV will take 2 gigabytes of your allotted bandwidth; one to go upstream and one to go downstream. Remove the DVR, and the Boxee TV is a less capable iteration of the Boxee Box, and there will be no fleeing to the Boxee Box as it has been discontinued and Boxee is stating that it will not receive anything more than maintenance updates, a prosepct most will find laughable given the abysmal level of support the Boxee Box has received over the last year. Without the launch of the Boxee Live TV, it is unlikely there would have been any updates to the Boxee Box in 2012, an update that dropped in March and came with several major, unresolved issues. It should be interesting to see how long D-Link will give the Boxee team to show that they have a clear vision of the future for cord-cutters.

The Boxee TV attempts to address a large void in the TV segment: DVRs for cord cutters and casual cable subscribers. The D-Link-made set-top box can pull in over-the-air HDTV signals and unencrypted cable signals. The dual tuner setup also allows it to record two channels at once. Built off the lessons learned with the Boxee Box’s Live TV dongle, the Boxee TV includes every feature found in a traditional DVR. Best of all, like TiVo, it’s not tied to the cable provider and even works with over-the-air signals. But, also like TiVo, there is a monthly charge to use the cloud DVR of $14.99 a month. Yeah, that’s a lot.