Tag Archives | Boxee

CES 2011: Iomega Does iPhone Backup, Boxee, and the "Personal Cloud"

Venerable storage company Iomega has made its CES announcements. They include a unique new iPhone/iPod Touch dock, two TV boxes that are the first ones to run the Boxee software since D-Link’s original Boxee Box, and Web-enabled updates to its network storage products.

Waitaminnit–what is a storage company like Iomega doing making an iPhone dock? Well, its new SuperHero is a storage device: The $69.99 gizmo packs a 4GB SD card. And when you use it with Iomega’s iPhone app, it’ll back up your contacts and photos as you charge your phone. (If you’ve got more than 4GB of stuff, you can swap out the included SD card and insert one of your own.) If you lose your data–or lose your phone, period, and get a new one–you can use the Iomega app to restore the data.

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Boxee Gets Vudu–on the Box, PCs, and Macs

The next chapter in the great Internet TV Box wars of 2010 will come next month, when D-Link ships the $199.99 Boxee Box, the long-awaited gadget which will compete with Apple TV, Google TV devices such as Logitech’s Revue, and Roku. Despite the fact that it’s almost here, it hasn’t been completely revealed–neither D-Link nor the Boxee folks have told all about the content services that’ll be available on it.

But here’s one piece of news: Vudu, the neat movie rental and purchase service which started out on its own hardware but has more recently shifted its strategy to being a streaming service available on devices such as Blu-Ray players and HDTVs, will also be on Boxee. And it won’t just be on Boxee’s box: You’ll be able to get Vudu content via Boxee’s software for PCs and Macs as well.

Like Amazon’s Video on Demand, Vudu will let you buy a movie or TV show once, then stream it to any computer or other gizmo you own that supports the Vudu service, giving you a video collection in the sky. As always, its specialty is content presented in as high-quality a form as possible: On the Boxee Box, it’ll is available in 1080p high definition with Dolby Digital+ sound. Sadly, though, only standard-definition content will be available on PCs and Macs, although Vudu’s best SD looks better than some “HD” I’ve seen.

Given that Google TV is so disappointing in its initial form, I’m more curious than ever about the Boxee Box. No word yet about other services it may have lined up–Netflix Watch Instantly and/or Hulu Plus would complement Vudu nicely.

(Full disclosure: My fiancée is employed by Vudu’s public relations agency.)


What’s Missing From Internet TV: Accidents!

Internet TV is threatening to turn cable TV’s subscription model on its head with on demand programming and rentals, but there is a key component that’s missing: content discovery. There is still no better way to find out what’s on than to flip through channels.

Apple TV, the Boxee Box, Google TV, Hulu, Roku, and a sundry of desktop (and now mobile) applications comprise a compelling alternative to traditional cable TV service. My colleague Harry McCracken has them all pretty well covered.

I know many people who have “unplugged” themselves from the shackles of costly year-long contracts. Why pay for channels that you don’t watch? Those people are typically more technically savvy than most of the population. I just recently upgraded my mother’s 1980s big screen TV to an HDTV.

My mother and I find what’s on TV in much the same way: we channel surf or use a “guide.” There are more than a few shows that drew me in by happenstance. AMC’s “Breaking Bad” is my favorite “accident.” Internet TV is surfing with a net, keeping us in the familiar, and not venturing out into the unexplored.

Sure, Internet TV has media guides that showcase featured content, but where does that leave programs that aren’t already in the spotlight? Would Internet TV allow me to stumble onto a “Twilight Zone” rerun at 3 AM? Sometimes randomness is nice – I don’t always like to know exactly what I’m looking for.

Internet TV is better suited for enabling a user to watch what they want when they want. I’m keeping my cable, but will be buying a Boxee Box as an alternative to Time Warner Cable’s on-demand services.


Internet TV Boxes Galore

My new Technologizer column for TIME.com is up–it’s a look at the new wave of Internet-TV boxes for the living room that are arriving over the next couple of months, and it focuses on the new Roku, since that’s the only one I’ve personally kicked back with so far. I mention the new Apple TV too, of course–FOX News’s Clayton Morris has one in his possession, and he likes it and thinks it’ll become “a quiet hit” for Apple.

Now that Roku’s out and Apple TV is just about here, the next big questions for this category all rotate around Google TV and the Boxee Box–both of which aim for a more feature-packed, comprehensive approach to Internet TV than the keep-it-simple-and-cheap Roku and Apple TV. I hope to try ’em all before the holidays are here.


Goodbye, NBC Universal’s Jeff Zucker!

Assuming that the government OKs Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal, network chief executive Jeff Zucker will depart.

While I’m not one to dwell on personnel changes at entertainment companies, Zucker’s an interesting figure. As CNet points out, he’s notorious for giving tech companies a hard time over NBC content. Notably, NBC tried to get a cut of iPod revenue while negotiating  iTunes licensing of TV shows, and NBC is not taking part in the 99-cent show rentals Apple TV will offer. Zucker said that price would “devalue” the network’s content.

NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage was also terrible. Event feeds were unavailable online to people who didn’t have cable subscriptions, and major events were tape-delayed and kept offline to force primetime viewing.

But when I think of Zucker, I’m reminded most of his hard line against Boxee, which tried to use content from Hulu, the web video site backed by NBC, News Corp and ABC.

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The Boxee Box: Nearly Here, Still a Contender

What a difference a year makes. When Boxee and D-Link unveiled the Boxee Box  in late 2009, things were pretty quiet on the Internet-TV-in-the-living-room front. Now, after a bit of a delay, the companies are getting ready to ship the Box in November. And it’ll compete against the all-new Apple TV, set-top boxes and TVs based on Google TV, the first devices that support Hulu Plus, and a bevy of other methods of getting video off the Internet and onto an HDTV. Little Boxee, in other words, will face daunting competition from some pretty formidable rivals.

I met with Boxee CEO Avner Ronen and D-Link Director of Consumer Marketing Brent Collins this weekend to get a sneak peek of a nearly-final Boxee Box. And you know what? Despite the avalanche of competition it’ll face, it still looks pretty cool.

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Boxee Box: Later Rather Than Sooner

The Boxee Box–D-Link’s gizmo that brings the cool Boxee Internet TV service to HDTVs that don’t happen to have a PC or Mac handy–was announced last December. It was supposed to ship in the second quarter of 2010, which will end in a little over two weeks. But now Boxee is saying that it won’t be ready until November. The company says it needs until then to get the thing working properly.

As usual, I’m in favor of waiting longer for a better product. But it’s disappointing news to those whose appetites Boxee began to whet so long ago.

A Boxee Box that was available this month would have had a nice head start on Logitech’s Google TV-based set-top box and other Google TV hardware which is due in time for the holidays. Now they’ll debut more or less simultaneously–and it’ll be fun to watch them duke it out.


Redux and Boxee Make Hours of Uninterrupted Randomness

Could you sit on your couch and watch a steady stream of randomly-selected videos from YouTube and other sites? Redux hopes so, bringing its service to television through Boxee’s software for set-top boxes.

I hadn’t heard of Redux before its Boxee partnership was announced today, but it seems destined for the television. You set up an account and select from a list of interests, such as humor, art or video games, and Redux automatically creates a playlist, letting you sit back and watch without hunting for new clips. You can also follow like-minded people through the service — or sync with people you already follow on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace — to see what they’re watching.

It’s easy to see Redux’s disposable entertainment as something to play in the background at a party or after stumbling back from the bar — things like the Toronto Raptors’ mascot swallowing a cheerleader, a random fight on a bus, or an epic steel drum solo. At a computer I wouldn’t necessarily need these videos chosen for me, but from the couch it could be fun to turn on Redux and let the user-made content come to you.

There are some things I wish were different about the service. I personally don’t like the user comments that pop up when watching a popular video, so it’d be great if you could toggle them off. And because I don’t have a set-top that supports Boxee, I’d like to see Redux on other set-tops, Blu-ray players, game consoles or televisions. I’m told both of those gripes will be addressed in the future.

Redux, however, doesn’t plan to add premium content, which is a shame. I can understand that the service is all about people sharing videos made by other people, but I’d love to see Redux apply its brand of serendipity to TV shows and movies. There’s only so much user-made content I can take now matter how it’s delivered.