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: