Streaming media players like Boxee and Roku suffer from one major flaw – the local programming and live events we want to watch simply aren’t available through them. Thankfully, Boxee has introduced a live TV dongle that simply plugs into the back of the box and offers up live broadcast TV.
Here at CES 2012 we were invited to check out Boxee Live TV and although it’s the same broadcast TV anyone can get for free with the trusty ol’ rabbit ears at home, Boxee’s approach seems like it could make things a whole lot more entertaining.
Why, you ask? Because Boxee is fixing all of the things we hate about the broadcast TV we’ve always known. One great example is the frustrating channel names we have to sort through. When I want to watch ABC at home my on-screen guide shows me something like WQBZHD blah, blah, blah. With Boxee Live TV we have the option to give stations whatever name we like. So WQBZHD could become “Channel 4” or “YAY!!!” because we love it so much — its all up to us.
Another added bonus we get when watching live TV through Boxee is social features. Facebook integration is everywhere nowadays and Boxee is no exception. Let’s say its Super Bowl Sunday and you want to see which of your friends is watching the game. All you have to do is check out the guide and your friends’ Facebook profile pics will show up next to whatever show they’re watching. Its a great feature and could also help for those days when you just can’t find anything to watch. If Jim Bob and six of your other friends (Yea, I don’t have that many either) are all tuned to the same channel chances are they’ve found something good and you’re missing out.
We’re also given the option to edit which channels show up on Boxee. For instance, if there’s a particular channel that never has anything good on (cough, PBS, cough) and you’re tired of clicking past it every time you can simply turn it off. They’ve made all of these things really easy and it seems to add quite a bit to the experience.
Because of the limitations crazy, media-intensive events like CES present my time with Boxee Live TV was a little short and I wasn’t able to really dig in to all the features. However, I absolutely loved what I did have time to see and truly believe the addition of broadcast TV is something Boxee’s competitors should pay attention to.
The Boxee Live TV dongle is up for pre-order now and is expected to ship later this month. It comes with a small pop-up style antenna and will retail for about $50.