Tag Archives: Boxee

Boxee TV lands between the living room and cloud

The new Boxee TV, like the original Boxee Box, is also produced by D-Link. But there’ll be little issue setting something on top of this one. Indeed, that’s what Boxee has figuratively done, stacking over-the-air DVR functionality on top of the Internet content that was delivered by the original oddly-angled cubazoid. The Boxee TV model is somewhat of a cross between Simple.TV and Aereo. Like the former, Boxee TV is a local device. Like the latter, though, it relies on cloud storage rather than local storage and unlimited local storage at that. Boxee TV will cost $99 and the company has struck a deal to blow it out at Walmart. Thus, not surprisingly, Walmart-owned Vudu will be one of the featured broadband TV launch partners along with Netflix.

Alas, there’s a monthly fee: $15 per month independent of any other services,. Like Aereo, Boxee will be offering access to all the recorded video via a Web app that should cover most services. So, it seems that Boxee, like Simple.TV, is courting the cord-never, or at least seeking to bring a bit of flavor of TV Everywhere to that crowd. Unlike Aereo, Boxee TV actually uploads recordings to the cloud, so it may be able to maneuver more deftly around legal challenges.

Flash on your phone may not preclude Hulu hoops

Hulu is anytime, anywhere enjoyment of some of your favorite TV shows — as long as your PC can be used in those circumstances. With Flash coming to nearly every smartphone save for Apple’s many are looking forward to enjoying their House outside of their home.

But first, there’s the realities of even today’s most advanced smartphone processors and even more limiting wireless networks. Apparently, using the latest Flash beta for the Snapdragon-powered Nexus One, you can get up to about 17 frames per second for standard-definition Hulu content (360p) and that’s using Wi-Fi.

That’s not bad, for as long as it lasts. But there may be issues in preserving compatibility with smartphone Flash as Hulu rolls out new DRM. More serious, of course, is whether Hulu, or its content partners, or its content partners’ cable customers, want you to watch Hulu on your smartphone as Hulu is authorized only to deliver video to the PC. If any of those parties decide that they don’t want Hulu being watched on handsets, we could see a redux of the recently reignited Boxee block.

I suspect it will not pan out that way, but I also would be somewhat surprised to see Hulu negotiating with the carriers or creating their own smartphone applications. Perhaps the networks will go it alone or perhaps they will anoint some new puppet aggregator to manage wireless distribution.

Hulu’s gurus and the Boxee blues

imageIt looks like Hulu distribution has been tightened up over the past few days. Maybe NBC and Fox are rethinking the power of the destination now that they have spent big for a SuperBowl ad featuring closeted alien Alec Baldwin.

Dave Zatz adroitly points out that this is likely to have a chilling effect on other solutions that deliver Internet video to the television and I would argue that it may also cause the major TV manufacturers who were all aflutter about Internet video on their wares to temper their embrace.somewhat.  However, as seems to be made clear by the apologetic Hulu blog entry regarding the removal from Boxee, Hulu has a limited voice in what their content players do. Have patience, little Hulu. One day you may grow up to be the next Comcast and will get to enjoy the same kind of tortured negotiations as the regulated aggregators sharing the coax ride into the home.

This ties into another theory I have as to part of the motivation behind the Boxee move and it doesn’t have to do with a blind desire to keep broadband TV shows off the television. Unfortunately, I can’t share much about it now but, as they say, stay tuned.

In another example of out-of-the-Boxee thinking, Sling Media is embracing social media in its own way with its recent initiative that lets you share what you’re watching with your Facebook friends, another baby step in the leveraging of personal relationships to drive exposure to TV programming.

Boxee improves the media center with social networking

imageOn the heels of my Switched On column on how PC companies should focus more on the notebook as the new living room PC, the alert team at Stage Two Consulting set up a meeting at Boxee‘s SoHo’s office, which is, um, close to those of Pando’s (which makes me wonder whether Boxee would integrate a Pando client at some point because it could be handy and oh such juicy lawsuit bait).

In any case, Boxee, which began life under the pirate flag of the Xbox Media Center, has won praise for its user interface, which I agree is a fresh, fluid and engaging departure not only from Front Row and Windows Media Center but also previous attempts at creating clones of them (such as MythTV) from the open-source community. Company co-founder Avner Ronen compares what Boxee is doing for the open-source media center UI to what Firefox did for the open-source browser.

Rather than overwhelming you with infinite entertainment choices, by default it filters up the top recommendations and consumed items from those in your social network. Of course, it can also broadcast out your entertainment choices. Boxee, like the Dash Express, can also post what you’re doing to Twitter and other social networks. The software is still in alpha, and thus has some serious feature gaps. Search, for example, is in the queue, and the company notes that recording of cable content will get a lot easier with Tru2Way. Boxee runs on Macs and Linux with a Windows version slated soon, and we talked about a number of potential paths to the living room..

I’ll be sharing more thoughts on Boxee in the coming weeks.