Boxee unveils dongle to access free broadcast HDTV

By on November 17, 2011, 7:30 AM

Although it's increasingly difficult for cable companies to deny the so-called "cord cutting" phenomenon, media conglomerates still have a stranglehold on many subscribers. It's easier than ever to catch your favorite TV show or movie through legitimate online avenues, but it's still tough for some folks to completely abandon their cable provider because Web services are seriously lacking in certain areas like live sports and local news coverage.

Boxee hopes to ease the transition away from conventional television with its new "Live TV" dongle. The device will allow owners of the Boxee Box HTPC to access channels such as ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC in HD with no monthly fee. The Live TV kit comes with an HD Antenna that connects to a coaxial to USB adapter. Once attached to your Boxee Box, you'll be able to select Live TV from the main menu to watch live television completely free of charge.

The Boxee Live TV dongle utilizes the free over-the-air HDTV broadcasts that launched in 2009. Naturally, you can access this content without Boxee's products, but this is an easy way for Boxee Box owners to take the final step away from pay TV. It's worth noting that if you're in a remote area without access to ATSC broadcasts, the Live TV kit also supports unencrypted cable connections (ClearQAM). In other words, you can pay for basic cable through your conventional TV provider and feed that through the Live TV dongle for a similar effect.

"Last year, 89 of the top 100 shows were on broadcast networks -- they remain the most popular channels on cable. The Superbowl, the World Series, the Oscars, the Grammys, presidential debates and addresses, the Olympics… they’re all on broadcast," writes Boxee CEO Avner Ronen. "Yes, there are hundreds of cable channels, but make a list of the stuff you actually watch. You will probably find that most are on broadcast and the rest are available on Vudu/Netflix/Network sites. What is left on your list? Is it really worth $85 a month?"

The Live TV tuner and antenna are available for preorder with pricing set at $49. The package is expected to ship sometime in January 2012. The Boxee Box itself is currently available for around $178 on Amazon -- over $50 less than its launch price. The platform was criticized early on for its lack of support for popular services such as Netflix and Vudu, but both have since been added. It still lacks access to Amazon's streaming services. As a side note, if you don't already own a settop box, you may want to wait to see what surfaces at CES.




User Comments: 8

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Raswan Raswan said:

How was an HD antenna not included in the original setup? Or even built in? Also, don't most modern TVs have the HD antenna built in already? Guess I need to get my learning on about set top boxes.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

Some TVs lack the coaxial input, so this is nice. Boxee is still too expensive tho... I can build a Windows PC for that price.

mevans336 mevans336 said:

The problem is, you still need an HD antenna. This just a OTA ATSC tuner.

The problem with OTA ATSC signals, is in most areas, the networks have their towers in different locations, so to change from NBC to CBS, you might have to manually re-orient your antenna, if you can get a signal at all with an indoor antenna at all.

For example, in my area, NBC is located somewhere around 321 degrees, but Fox and CBS are located around 160 degrees.

You can input your information to find out here: http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/Address.aspx

MilwaukeeMike said:

(off topic, i know...)

Anyone know where to get discover/science channel stuff through an online service?

Guest said:

Or just skip Boxee altogether and watch broadcast TV.

howzz1854 said:

mevans336 said:

The problem is, you still need an HD antenna. This just a OTA ATSC tuner.

The problem with OTA ATSC signals, is in most areas, the networks have their towers in different locations, so to change from NBC to CBS, you might have to manually re-orient your antenna, if you can get a signal at all with an indoor antenna at all.

For example, in my area, NBC is located somewhere around 321 degrees, but Fox and CBS are located around 160 degrees.

You can input your information to find out here: http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/Address.aspx

that's also antenna dependent. i have two indoor OTA ATSC antennas, and one of them, like you said, will require you to turn the antenna to watch different channels, while the other antenna is good enough to pick up all the channels.

i would definitely look into a better antenna.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

milwaukeemike said:

(off topic, i know...)

Anyone know where to get discover/science channel stuff through an online service?

Netflix streaming has a nice list of learning channel content, I frequently watch NatGeo, Discovery and History channel shows. Believe they even have some NOVA from PBS.

mevans336 mevans336 said:

howzz1854 said:

mevans336 said:

The problem is, you still need an HD antenna. This just a OTA ATSC tuner.

The problem with OTA ATSC signals, is in most areas, the networks have their towers in different locations, so to change from NBC to CBS, you might have to manually re-orient your antenna, if you can get a signal at all with an indoor antenna at all.

For example, in my area, NBC is located somewhere around 321 degrees, but Fox and CBS are located around 160 degrees.

You can input your information to find out here: http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/Address.aspx

that's also antenna dependent. i have two indoor OTA ATSC antennas, and one of them, like you said, will require you to turn the antenna to watch different channels, while the other antenna is good enough to pick up all the channels.

i would definitely look into a better antenna.

It's not my antenna, as it's a high quality indoor omni. The problem is once you get beyond 10-15 miles (best case) from the broadcasting antenna, you need directional antennas or you need an antenna that can reposition itself (like mine can).

A quick read a dbstalk.com will illuminate this.

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