Boxee’s Live TV Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Dave Zatz —  November 16, 2011

Hot on the heels of news from the leaked 1.5 software build, Boxee has come clean with their “Live TV” intentions. Early next year, Boxee Box owners (of any stripe?) in the US & Canada will be able to purchase a USB tuner for $49. This accessory is designed to pull in digital, high definition over-the-air (OTA) broadcasts. In addition to tuning HDTV, Boxee provides free guide data and incorporates their sharing/recommendation technology. Yet, they have no imminent plans to add recording functionality.

Does Boxee Live TV have a DVR? No. The focus of Boxee Live TV is well… Live TV… having said that if we get enough users asking for DVR then we could take advantage of that other USB input on the back of the box and let a user connect a drive for recordings. Plus we still have all the shows the web has to offer.

As Engadget mentions, most of our TVs already contain ATSC tuners. So this new Live TV functionality may merely be nice-to-have. Sure, utilizing a single input to handle personal, over-the-top Internet, and live television content is compelling. But is it significant enough to move more units without the added benefit of recording? And I’m disappointed to see no mention of Iomega’s 2TB Boxee Box iteration… that contains plenty of DVR-friendly storage.

9 responses to Boxee’s Live TV Doesn’t Go Far Enough

  1. “If we get enough users asking” Really? Who are they kidding?

    Looks like it also won’t be compatible with the PC version. Big suprise there. Since releasing the Boxee Box they have ignored the PC users.

  2. I wonder if they think adding DVR functionality constitutes them questioning the whole vision of the Boxee Box. That is at least, my interpretation of their vision: the aggregation of over-the-top, on-demand content that removes the need for things like DVR recordings.

    Personally, I think that reality is certainly in the cards for the future. But for the time being I prefer to watch a DVR’ed program if I can, if not simply for the image quality (my internet isn’t the fastest ever, but my ClearQAM channels come in at very nice bitrates).

  3. I asked Boxee point blank if it’s on the road map and they paste the FAQ DVR bit above. It’s possible they’ll wait and see. It’s also possible it’ll take awhile to develop so there’s no point mentioning it now. But when it arrives, they can conveniently say they were listening. ;) DVR is hard to do… well. So, please take some time. Related, I got my hands on the new Channel Master OTA DVR and wow at first blush I’m impressed. Hoping to get some first thoughts posted before Thanksgiving. We shall see. :)

  4. I can’t think of any instance that I would want to watch Tv without at the very least the ability to pause, rewind, and fast forward.

    Live TV? So you miss something, and you can’t go back to watch it or repeat it? Or you need to do something for a few minutes and you can’t pause it until you get back? Do they think it’s the 20th century?

  5. I really hope that an OTA DVR alternative to Tivo appears soon. I’m quite sick of paying a monthly fee to Tivo in exchange for a DVR and the worst Netflix interface available. The minute the Tivo Netflix implementation supports 5.1 audio, I’m going to look out the window for flying pigs.

    Boxee, count me as “interested.”

  6. aaron, excellent point – even a few minute buffer would be a huge deal to take a call, visit the restroom, or get ahead of some commercials.

    Just heard back from Boxee. They’re picking up the Tribune metadata fees, no subscription will be required. Most stuff will cover 2 weeks, but based on channel, region, content, it could be as short as 1 week.

  7. Pretty much all TVs have digital tuners. What does this really achieve? Not much. They probably have DVR plans, so why bother to release it before the DVR part is working? Yawn. But with DVR capability – interesting.

  8. Yup, if they had just included perhaps 4GB flash in the stick to enable trickplay, then it would have value. I asked that question in the Boxee forum and Avner responded, not just yet.

    Still hate “social integration” with my TV watching.

  9. You wouldn’t even need 4GB. 1GB would be enough for 7 to 15 minutes(depending on bitrate) of buffer for HD content.