I am fortunate to live in an area where we have a strong signal from all of the local television channels. In fact, our signal strength is so strong that my good friend and neighbor built his own antenna using coat hangers, some other minor parts, all mounted on a two-by-four. The over-the-air picture quality on his HDTV is superb and rivals that of satellite and cable transmissions.
I have used a small indoor antenna to experiment with and have successfully been able to receive all of the local channels over the air. What I missed about receiving local channels over the air was my ability to record these channels when not at home or when occupied with other chores. So I was excited when Boxee announced its latest addition, a second-generation device that would record and store programming in the cloud for a small monthly fee.
The first thing I did was to confirm through the Boxee website that where I lived was supported by its DVR services, which it did. So I decided to order a Boxee though Walmart, since the company has a liberal return policy. I received the unit about a week after Thanksgiving and I was anxious to try out the Boxee using my own antenna and connected to my cable subscriber.
Setup was simple and without any incident. Over-the-air channels came in crystal clear and I was extremely pleased with the quality. The picture on my Panasonic plasma HDTV looked just as good as what I had been receiving through both major satellite services. However, not all was well in television land as I tried to do some things on the Boxee that I have done on satellite services and which have become second nature.
The first problem I encountered was the inability to pause live television. The Boxee is also not compatible with my Harmony remote control, which I use to control all of my entertainment toys. I was able to use my Internet connection via cable to access Netflix, VUDU, YouTube, Vimeo, and Pandora. However, I receive all of these channels and more on my Roku and my Samsung Blu-ray player.
Boxee, when purchased through Walmart, comes with a free three-month subscription to the DVR service. This feature is super cool, with just one slight problem. The DVR service, for the most part, doesn’t work properly. Though I tried many times to record different programs, my Boxee unit would freeze up and require a hard reboot to get it working again. Yes, this happened even after I had tried all available updates for the unit.
No matter how hard I tried to like this Boxee box, I just could not get it to do what I really wanted and that was to record TV channels in my local area. Needless to say, I was disappointed and had to return the unit to Walmart. The folks at Boxee have a great idea, but the product — in its current iteration, at least — fails to deliver for my needs.
Comments, as always, are welcome.
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