Boxee Box and Boxee Live TV by Boxee Inc.
Boxee Box, $167.99; Boxee Live TV, $49, at Boxee.tv
They’re the cable TV industry’s worst nightmare. “Cord cutters”--the people who give up on paying monthly cable bills, because they can get all the TV they want via over-the-air broadcasts and the Internet. Boxee caters to would-be cord cutters with a simple and attractive device that streams Internet video services into standard TV sets. You can pump thousands of popular TV shows and movies into the set, many of them free, or hook up to popular subscription services like Netflix.
But what if you want to watch the Super Bowl or the evening news? You can just switch to your TV’s over-the-air mode and fall back on an old set of rabbit ears, or a rooftop aerial. Boxee has just made the process easier with its Live TV device. It’s a little dongle that plugs into a USB port on the back of the Boxee Box. Next, you screw in a coaxial connection to your TV antenna. Now you can pump the TV broadcasts straight through the Boxee Box.
The same software that sorts through video choices on the Boxee Box will now manage your broadcast TV viewing. The software generates a channel guide that tells you what’s playing on all available broadcast channels, and lets you see what’s coming on later in the day. You can share your viewing choices with friends on Facebook or Twitter.
Mind you, $50 is a bit steep, when you could just plug a cheap antenna directly into the set. You get fewer nifty on-screen features that way, but then your Facebook friends don’t care what you’re watching anyhow.
Still, Boxee’s onto something here. A cheaper version of Live TV, built right into the Boxee Box, would make cord cutting more attractive than ever, and more of a menace to the cable guys.