Boxee TV to arrive at Walmart stores, retail for $99
Walmart stores across the U.S. on Thursday will start carrying the Boxee TV set-top box just in time for a holiday showdown with competitors such as Apple TV, Roku, and the Xbox 360. Announced in mid-October, the $99 Boxee TV includes the typical apps you find in most set-top boxes including Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, and Hulu Plus. Boxee TV also has a $15 per month DVR service that stores an unlimited number of recorded programs online, allowing you to access your recorded content from a laptop or tablet, as well as your TV. The Boxee TV will be available in more than 3,000 Walmart locations across the U.S., according to Bloomberg.
Boxee, the company of the same name behind Boxee TV, also says you can use its device to watch live television. The set-top box appears similar to the Boxee Live TVtuner in that it can only access broadcasts from basic cable channels via an antenna or unencrypted cable connection.
Boxee hopes the ability to integrate live television into Boxee TV will differentiate its black, nondescript set-top box from a crowded field of black, nondescript set-top boxes selling for $99 or less. Apple TV and Roku are probably the most well known set-top boxes vying for the same space. Both competing services offer video streaming apps from sources such as the NHL, NBA, Hulu Plus, and Vimeo, and both support high definition video (Roku also has several non-HD models). Apple TV has the advantage of offering iTunes movie rentals in addition to other content, while Roku claims more than 600 entertainment apps to meet your streaming needs such as HBO Go, Disney, and Sony's Crackle.
Beyond Apple TV and Roku, Boxee will have to contend with upcoming subsidized Xbox 360 consoles that will cost as little as $99 if you sign-up for a two-year Xbox LIVE Gold plan at $15 per month. Microsoft's Xbox 360 will give you access to a full gaming console; built-in services such as Xbox Music and Video; Xbox SmartGlass for tying mobile devices together; and many of the same content streaming apps you can find on Apple TV, Boxee TV and Roku.
Google is also trying to stake a claim in the battle for the living room with Google TV, the search giant's attempt to merge the Web with regular, broadcast television. Sony is the current standard bearer for Google TV with the $200 NSZ-GS7 set-top box.
Boxee TV follows the late 2010 release of the Boxee Box in partnership with D-Link. The Boxee Box will now go into maintenance mode, according to the company, meaning the device will still work, but there will not be any new software upgrades for the device.
Boxee TV will be available exclusively in the United States at launch.