Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boxee Cloud DVR Review

I bought the original Boxee Tv back on Nov-1-2012.  As of Apr-9-2013 the Boxee Tv was rebranded as the Boxee Cloud DVR.  I initially held off on my review because it was still Beta.  I'm pretty picky as you can see from my Vizio Co-star review. My initial purchase was because it was supposed to have been able to natively decrypt basic tiered cable on Comcast.  As of the time of this post Clear QAM and using a Ethernet based Digital Tuning Adapter provided by Comcast is the only way to view Cable TV.  Comcast is encrypting the Digital Limited Basic Tier aka everything available over Clear QAM http://customer.comcast.com/help-and-support/cable-tv/limited-basic-encryption/.   I'm just counting the days until clear qam is dead and I have to get another hdhomerun with a cable card because my hdhomerun dual is rendered useless. I now will need 6+ tuners since clear qam might die. If you're counting I'm using the 2 tuners on the hdhomerun dual and 3 on the hdhomerun cable card.  I used to have 10 tuners back before Comcast started encrypting basic cable.

You can check out the Gdgt review from a friend of mine.  It's pretty much is what I experienced back in November.

I was plagued with green pixels.  There wasn't a problem with the cable because it was used before and after with my apple tv with no problems.  I eventually tried it on another tv and the hdcp issues stabilized.

Video Below

I used it for the remainder of November and unplugged it in Mid December until there was a software update because it was simply unusable.  I wanted to give it a try and not return the device to Walmart because I was hopeful for the boxee tv.

I didn't even realize that it was even recording shows and only noticed when I went to the Boxee Website and saw on the DVR page that there were 100 recordings. Checking my bandwidth usage during the time averaged between 5 and 20 GB a day in uploads.  I was traveling most of that time so it was highly unlikely that it was me uploading that much data.

I started using it again in late March once the DLNA app was added.  That was the key feature that was missing.  I could care less about the dvr feature because I'm using mythtv for all my recordings.  I use Plex for all my music, movies and tv using plex and some mythtv hackery and a DLNA player to view the media or just the native dlna server within Mythtv. The new updates over 3 months corrected all of the HDCP issues and problems with crashing during channel changes and delayed audio.   I would say that it's a very usable beta.  It's a really simple Internet Streaming device.  I rate it a little higher than my Roku 2 because I can watch live tv  when I need to but it's missing Amazon Video on Demand but makes up with the inclusion of a native Youtube App.

The Broadcom BCM7231 chip inside is very capable and there is no lag seen with app switching and rendering.  It supports RVU and a host of other intefaces to act as an authenticated gateway back to the you Cable Company's headend, so what's the wait Comcast?  On the pics below a 1080i show is playing in the background (audio and video) while the guide, icons and setting are overlaid.  My Apple Tv has lag with scrolling thru the coverflow on movies and music and the youtube app :-)

There are still problems with the not knowing where you are in the app section because the highlighted icon is sometimes not visible and you have to press left left down down to get it to appear.

90% of my tv for the week is recorded and I watch later and skip the commercials.  The other 10% is live and on network tv so it accomplishes exactly what I need from it.

Other than that once the Cable DVR comes to the product and there are more streaming apps like Amazon VOD and Hulu or even Cable Provider VOD Apps,  I'm sure that it will be a strong competitor to the Roku 3, AppleTV and even Google TV.

All the live tv is over Clear QAM.

Boxee Cloud DVR Box

Below is the Boxee Cloud DVR Circa April 15 2013. Say Hello to Domo.

Channel Guide

Dancing With The Stars in 1080i

DVR Recording is not available using Clear QAM


DLNA/USB File Browser App

DLNA File Browser

Resolution Settings

Live TV Settings

Time and Locale


Weak Signal over OTA.   I live in a Fiber Cement Bunker

Remote Front

Remote Back

Scanning Menu

Kelly Clarkson Via DLNA on Palladia