The Boxee brand has had a tough road to hoe. Both Roku and Apple have a pretty firm hold on the streaming set-top box marketplace and, as a result, Boxee’s sales have suffered. Better known for its media center software, Boxee only managed to sell about 200,000 of its D-Link-made Boxee Boxes over the last year, which is only 10 percent of its software user base. But Boxee’s recently announced hardware effort, the Boxee TV, could transform the fresh-faced start-up and earn it some serious brand recognition.
According to Bloomberg, Walmart will be both stocking and promoting the Boxee TV box starting tomorrow. The Boxee TV is slated to retail at the big box giant for $98, putting it in direct competition with the Apple TV and Roku’s fully loaded Roku 2 XS model. But it is Walmart’s promotional efforts that could end up goosing brand awareness for Boxee.
The Boxee TV packs a couple of features that neither Apple nor Roku’s competing players offer at this time. Not only does the player offer access to local TV channels via cable subscription or over-the-air antenna, it also sports a cloud-based DVR service, without any storage limitations (record and keep as much as you want), for $15 a month. From where we sit, this is the first piece of hardware that offers a compelling reason for on-the-fence cord-cutters to pull the trigger and ditch their cable/satellite service. Pair that with Walmart’s promotional backing and you’ve got some pretty great potential for success.
But, as is often the case, there is some fine print to be aware of: Boxee’s “No Limits DVR” service requires some healthy bandwidth — 3 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up is recommended. You’ll also need strong TV reception, which depends on your area and the antenna you use. Also, the DVR service is only available in eight (undisclosed) large cities in the US at this time, with more to be added “soon.” Finally, there seem to be some regional restrictions, since Netflix will apparently only be available to US-based users of the Boxee TV.
We want to know: Does the Boxee TV look attractive enough to get you to sever ties with your cable/sat company?