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Summary:

Boxee just confirmed the live TV dongle we first reported about a week ago: Boxee Box users will be able to watch free live HD TV on the device starting in January, when the USB dongle will go on sale for $49.

boxee LiveTV-Dongle

Boxee is going to sell a USB dongle capable of bringing live over-the-air broadcast TV to the Boxee Box, the company confirmed Wednesday morning. GigaOM broke the story of this live TV dongle last week; Boxee CEO Aver Ronen said in a blog post that the accessory will be available for $49 in January, with preorders starting immediately. It will initially sell just in the U.S. and Canada.

The dongle will be manufactured by Hauppauge and come complete with an antenna capable of receiving free HD TV signals. Boxee’s software will support the device with a dedicated EPG for live TV content that will include the media center’s signature social features, including the capability to let others know what you’re watching at any given time. Users will also be able to find both live and archived versions of a TV show episode through Boxee’s Internet content sources.

Ronen made no secret who the company is targeting as customers for its live TV product. He titled his post “time to cut the cord,” wrote that Boxee wants to be an alternative to overpriced cable TV, and added:

“Cable companies keep telling the press and investors that ‘cord cutting’ is not real, and that if it exists then it’s limited to people who can no longer afford cable. We are sure they are conducting objective and unbiased research, but we are meeting more and more ‘cord never getters’ and ‘cord cutters’ every day. They are more than just people tightening their belts in tough economic times, these are people who have left cable TV behind because it does not fit their lifestyle. They are part of a changing culture, with a changing expectation of how they watch the shows they love… The only time they tune into a channel is to watch something live.”

Boxee’s live TV dongle won’t be compatible with the soon-to-be-refreshed PC, Mac and Linux version of the company’s media center software. However, a banner accompanying the blog post says it is “made for Boxee devices,” which could mean that the dongle will also work with the Iomega Boxee media player as well as other yet-unannounced Boxee devices.

An FAQ published on Boxee’s website states that there are no immediate plans to add DVR functionality to the Boxee Box. However, such an option still seems to be on the table:

“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.”

Check out this first video of Boxee’s live TV option we published last week:

  1. So what channels will users be able to watch?

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    1. Local channels in HD

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    2. Gervis Menzies Jr. Wednesday, November 16, 2011

      Hi Andrew… You’ll be able to watch all the channels that are available over the air like ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC in HD. – Gervis Menzies (Boxee)

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      1. Do you really have to be asked to give DVR capability to that extra USB port?

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  2. How good is the reception going to be in NY prior to the rebuild of the world trade?

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    1. We’re based in NYC and reception has been great so far both in the office in Chelsea and at my home in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.

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    2. “The dongle will be manufactured by Hauppauge and come complete with an antenna capable of receiving free HD TV signals.”

      If it’s only a whip antenna, then anything within 3 or 4 miles. The picture shows a standard antenna F-jack, so if you can use your own antenna, then possibly pretty good. The question is what can you manage in a typical NYC apartment situation. Search Google using the term “bow tie antenna” and see if there is something commercial or DIY that could work for you.

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  3. I don’t get it. Why wouldn’t you just get an HD antenna for your TV? How is this better than an HD antenna or any different? Is it just that now you can pull the over the air stream into the Boxee interface? Doesn’t seem to add any value.

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    1. Only reason I can think of is that your TV does not have an NTSC tuner. Like mine. Had this been around a few months ago, I might have gone with this instead of an HTPC.

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      1. You’re forgetting 2 things.. 1. Of course I have a TV tuner in my TV but I also have a 5.1 home theater system. Unfortunately, my Denon AVR-2807 receiver doesn’t have a ASTC/QAM Tuner. So if I want to have good sound I need a standalone TV tuner with an HDMI or optical output. 2. The second thing you’re forgetting is that not only is sound terrible on a flat-screen TV but the Menu systems are usually horrible. That alone is enough to get anyone to pull that coax cable out of the back of their TV and put it in a boxee. I’m sure the Boxee interface will be much better!

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  4. What a suprise. . .”Won’t be compatible with the pc version”

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  5. I’m sorry to be so shallow, but I just can’t see past the name without immediately thinking of Boxxy and hyperactive preteen YouTube monologues. That said, this is an interesting concept and best of luck to them.

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  6. Boxee is brave to take a stand against Evil Cable. Good job, guys! This dongle does push their fringe tech toy more towards the mainstream. However, not having DVR seems so insanely dopey that it must have been done for a good reason.

    I can only imagine that the spectacular failure of Google TV (we can see the writing on the wall with that) has everyone in this sector a little on edge. That must be why Boxee took such a seemingly half-assed stand against cable. Since DVR functionality historically irritates advertisers (e.g. Tivo’s ad skipping), Boxee might find themselves cut off from the web content from ABC, CBS, etc., and even Hulu in retaliation. The GoogleTV debacle proves that content is way more valuable than sort algorithms and good UI. Google TV is barred from Hulu — fail! Boxee smartly focuses on breadth of content rather than delivery of content. Therefore, they cannot risk that content. Right now, Boxee’s userbase is so small that it wouldn’t be much of a risk for the big networks to block Boxee Boxes (say that five times fast). However, if Boxee builds a large userbase, the big boys won’t be able to throw their weight around without a measurable consumer backlash. At that point, we’ll see DVR functionality implemented on Boxee. In fact, I bet they’ve already finished DVR functionality, but are sitting on it.

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  7. Boxee’s live TV dongle – an alternative to overpriced cable TV???? http://t.co/GKCvEMtw

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  8. Confirmed: The Boxee Box is getting a live TV dongle http://t.co/rvKmRli0

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  9. Just pre-ordered the dongle. The Pre-order links to an esellerate.com link which processes the order and the confirmation email regarding purchase is from Hauppage it appears to be an OEM device probably similar to existing hardware from Hauppage but the code in the device handshakes with the Boxee Box. An enterprising programmer (something I’m so not!) could probably hack but probably not easily as I understand the original goal for the Boxee Box was to encourage hacking but agreements with the big content providers required the Boxee developers to lock down the device. Anyway I can confirm the device is from Hauppage based on the pre-order paper trail. Hope this information is helpful.

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  10. RT @gigaom: Confirmed: The Boxee Box is getting a live TV dongle http://t.co/CHFHEEEG

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