Although units began shipping in mid-December (with little fanfare), Digeo CEO Greg Gudorf officially unveiled their long delayed and re-imagined retail Moxi HD DVR ($800) last week at CES. I’ve previously been critical of Digeo’s go-to-market and press/blogger outreach strategies, but I’ve never had a problem with their tech – in fact, the Moxi OS was ahead of it’s time. Making these delays all the more frustrating. So, it’s good to finally see a solid offering available on store shelves. Err, available solely at Amazon.com. In fact, I bet DVR pioneer TiVo is happy to see a bit of competition. Hopefully raising awareness amongst consumers that they’re not limited to cable-co provided set-top boxes. Which is the big challenge facing these guys… After 9 years on the market, while DVR household penetration has skyrocketed, TiVo has fewer than 2 million stand-alone subscribers. In fact, Gudorf pretty much began his talk by proclaiming the Moxi HD DVR is “not a mass market product” – rather, it’s a “premium” offering targeted at 12-15 million digital cable customers.
The Moxi experience is largely unchanged from the demos I’ve attended and the pre-release unit I had in my home back in 2007. The rich, graphical UI is now completely HD, and retains the dual axis navigation. Which in many ways is efficient, but cluttered in others. I still dig the Super Ticker which scrolls Internet-acquired info (weather, scores, etc) along the bottom of your screen like CNN or ESPN. Moxi offers a ton of programming filters, perhaps too many, and provides real-time web-based scheduling and conflict management. A variety of Internet content is accessible from the box, including info/news, Flickr, and Finetune (music). Additionally, you can access your personal MP3s or JPEG images from a Windows PC – with true DLNA support slated for later this year. However, at least initially, Moxi doesn’t have a video on demand partner like an Amazon, CinemaNow, or Netflix. But it’s probably safe to assume movie downloads are on the road map. Moxi provides some advanced functionality not seen on TiVo, such as being able to manually map clear QAM channels. But, on the other hand, the ability to offload video (à la TiVoToGo) is not present.
Moxi HD DVR hardware is both much sleeker and more subtle than the product(s) Digeo blew up last January, and should blend nicely into any entertainment center. And if that glowing Moxi logo upsets you, it can be disabled in the settings. The dual tuning DVR, powered by one multistream CableCARD, ships with 500GB of storage (~75 hours of HD). Yet can be expanded, like the TiVo Series3/HD platform, using an eSATA drive. Digeo also made a point of talking up their powerful Broadcom chipset. A design decision that Ben Drawbaugh and I question is the lack of an over-the-air (OTA) ATSC tuner. I do understand Digeo’s strategy/messaging of focusing on digital cable subscribers but, at the same time, that additional hardware cost would be relatively small and give them another marketing bullet point. (Ben and I may be unique in that we’ve been known to drop cable television services the months when college football is out of season.) While Digeo’s hardware is capable of supporting the now-rolling SDV tuning adapters, a software update is required to access all switched programming… and is expected later this year. Also announced in Vegas, is a new MoxiMate DVR extender. This compact fanless, driveless device will be used to receive DVR content on other televisions in the home. Although, I didn’t catch if they’re going the MoCA route over coax or will be utilizing the LAN for transport. It’s expected later this year, and pricing details were not disclosed.
One of the primary ways Digeo hopes to differentiate themselves from TiVo and from the cable industry is by providing a fee-less DVR. Stating they don’t intend to “dog people” with recurring monthly costs. While it’s debatable which route may be more economical (Digeo thinks theirs is), it clearly results in a much higher initial investment. Which will be a challenge, given Digeo/Moxi’s largely unfamiliar brand, without brick & mortar retail outlets (yet?), and being privately funded.
In addition to Digeo’s Moxi cable products and the new retail DVR, Digeo has also licensed the Moxi experience to Monster. Who’ve attempted to expand beyond pricey cables and break into home media and automation for a couple of years now. Two Monster iTV PowerCenter configurations, “Powered by Moxi,” are expected to ship this summer, starting at $900.
All that’s left is spending some quality hands on time with the new Moxi HD DVR. And I’m hopeful of receiving a review loaner at some point.
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