Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, last week began selling a digital video recorder set-top and service from startup Boxee — aimed at letting consumers drop their pay TV service — in more than 3,000 stores nationwide.
The $99 Boxee TV device provides access to free over-the-air TV (or unencrypted basic cable channels) and Internet-delivered video services such as Netflix and Walmart’s Vudu rental service.
The device also includes a digital video recorder feature. However, instead of storing the DVR recordings locally, it uploads them to a Boxee-operated network server. Boxee plans to launch the “No Limits DVR” service with unlimited storage in eight U.S. markets, for $15 per month.
Walmart started marketing the Boxee TV set-top and service on Nov. 1 in-store and via Walmart.com.
Walmart noted it already sells “a broad assortment of streaming media services like Vudu, Apple TV, TiVo, Roku and others.”
The Boxee TV device, like the startup’s previous non-DVR set-top, is manufactured by D-Link.
“With Boxee TV, you’ll be to able watch live TV broadcasts in beautiful HD from channels like ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, Univision and many others,” the company said in a blog posting.
Boxee’s No Limits DVR service will provide unlimited storage, with the ability to access DVR recordings on TVs, laptops and tablets, according to Boxee. The service will be available initially in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
The device includes two tuners, so a user can watch one channel while recording another. It also comes preinstalled with Vudu, Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo, Pandora and other apps.
For the network-hosted DVR service, Boxee appears to be relying on the precedent set in a federal appeals court decision upholding the legality of Cablevision Systems’ RS-DVR. Another startup, Aereo, successfully cited the Cablevision decision to defend itself against a bid by major broadcasters seeking to shut down its Internet TV service this summer.
Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission last month lifted the ban on encrypting basic-tier digital-cable channels. The six largest MSOs have agreed to provide adapters or another encryption solution to work with third-party devices such as Boxee TV.
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