Is Boxee fighting a war it can’t possibly win? It was kind of hard to fall in love with the Boxee Box to begin with, and since its manufacturer pretty much stopped supporting its much maligned set-top streamer in favor of its new Boxee TV cloud streaming DVR, we can understand why some might be wary of jumping on board with this relatively new offering. While the Boxee TV’s feature set isn’t terrible, all of the associated fees that can come with it make the idea of cutting the cord a tough sell – especially for those who want to make sure they don’t miss their favorite network TV programs. Throw in more monthly fees for streaming services such as Netflix, Pandora, and Spotify, then add the charges incurred with each download of a flick from services like Vudu, and consumers could end up spending as much as they do now on a cable or satellite subscription. Still, Boxee is pressing forward with some upgrades in hopes that it can attract a bigger slice of the OTT (over-the-top) market.
The Boxee TV’s no-limit DVR function is great as long as you live in one of the first cities included in the roll-out, and we do like its access anywhere proposition, but we’re not convinced that Boxee TV makes sense in the long run compared to products such as the Roku 3, which dominated in our recent set-top shoot-out.
When the Boxee TV first launched, it was missing support for DLNA and 3D playback via Vudu; not that anyone is really crying about the 3D issue. Over the weekend, Boxee began to roll-out the new upgrade and those two features are now part of the package. The update allows you to stream music, photos, and movies from a DLNA-device over your home network – a feature most of the Boxee’s competition has offered for some time now.
Another issue that has been finally resolved is the manner in which you program the DVR to record your favorite programming. The initial interface was accessible only via Boxee’s cloud DVR website; but now you can program the Boxee TV from its own interface on your HDTV. The TV guide function which didn’t get rave reviews when it first launched has been updated and it is now far simpler to use. You also now start watching recordings from where you last stopped them which should have been a feature from day one.