Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Cloud Television Hardware

Boxee TV's Unlimited Cloud-based DVR Holds Users Hostage To Monthly Fees 174

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the ownership-is-obsolete dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Boxee has announced the game-changing Boxee TV, offering live streaming TV via two on-board tuners and an industry-first 'No Limit' DVR service that allows users to record as much TV content as they want, and access it from virtually anywhere. The problem is that the unit, which records directly to the cloud, does not allow recording to a local drive, meaning users are stuck with Boxee for as long as they want to access their stored content — potentially hundreds or thousands of hours – to the tune of $14.99 per month until Boxee ups the ante. CEPro.com suggests, 'I suspect Boxee is offering unlimited storage to make users especially beholden to them. The more content you have, the less likely you are to drop the service.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Boxee TV's Unlimited Cloud-based DVR Holds Users Hostage To Monthly Fees

Comments Filter:
  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @10:11AM (#41680671)

    With the exception of Tivo, I've yet to see any of these new DVR's I keep hearing about lately even mention if they work with cablecards or switched digital video. If not, what the hell would I buy one for?!? My cableco and all of the satellite networks encrypt pretty much ALL their channels now (and my cableco uses SDV extensively too). WTF good does a DVR do me if all I can get on it are a handful of over-the-air channels?

    And as far as connecting to online services, big fucking deal. My Xbox, TV, and even blu-ray player already do that. And even if this wasn't a standard feature on pretty much everything sold today (pretty sure it will be built into my next refrigerator too), I could buy a Roku box for $60 that will do that.

    Can someone please tell me what market these things are aimed at (or if any of them beside Tivo *do* actually support cablecards and SDV)?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mr. Slippery (47854)

      With the exception of Tivo, I've yet to see any of these new DVR's I keep hearing about lately even mention if they work with cablecards or switched digital video....WTF good does a DVR do me if all I can get on it are a handful of over-the-air channels?

      More than a decade ago, my ReplayTV had a IR transmitter to control my Dish TV box by faking remote control signals. I assume today's DVRs have something similar.

      • by Golddess (1361003)
        My first TiVo (a series 2) was the same way. But that was because at the time, there was no other option for recording the encrypted content from the cable company. Cablecard didn't exist yet, did it?

        I suppose some boxes could still work similarly, but unless the box from your cable company has multiple outputs for each tuner, you'll be limited to recording a single program at a time.
        • by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @11:19AM (#41681549) Homepage Journal

          unless the box from your cable company has multiple outputs for each tuner, you'll be limited to recording a single program at a time.

          I think cable companies just want customers to pay to rent more boxes in order to record more simultaneous channels.

          • No. Cable companies want you to use a cable box, in particular, one that they provide so they can sell information about you. Like what channels you watch and when, what shows you record and if you watch them, and so on.

            This stuff is WAY more valuable than Nielson info, because it's what you actually watch, not what you have written down/or logged on their separate device.

            And if they can also get you to pay them for the privilege of tracking you [by forcing you to buy/rent the tracking device from them],

      • by MDMurphy (208495)

        That was back before HD and encrypted HDMI. The cable box took the digital signal from the cable provider and it was converted to analog video in the. The TiVo/ReplayTV took the analog video and digitized it before storing on the hard drive. When watching it the DVR converted it back to analog video again. Not exactly the best approach for high fidelity viewing.

        If you could control a new box today with an older DVR you might be able to do that, recording the analog output. ( provided it doesn't have cop

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Yep. Sony VCRs had something called the "IR mouse" a long time ago.

    • hdhomerun

      the pc cards

    • by ccguy (1116865) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @10:33AM (#41680909) Homepage

      Can someone please tell me what market these things are aimed at (or if any of them beside Tivo *do* actually support cablecards and SDV)?

      Depending on the implementation it could allow to watch US TV from abroad as long as a US buddy is willing to help a bit...

      Of course if I went out of my way to organize this so I could pay to watch US TV from Spain someone would still have the balls to call me a pirate. So preemptive fuck you.

    • by Nukenbar (215420)

      My Verizon Fios encrypts nothing that I subscribe to.

      • by JazzLad (935151)
        They don't encrypt anything I subscribe to either. That said, I don't subscribe to anything, so YMMV~
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @10:51AM (#41681173)

      WTF good does a DVR do me if all I can get on it are a handful of over-the-air channels?

      It's all about framing. You say that, and I say "WTF good does cable/satellite TV do me, if I can't watch it on a DVR?"

      I record OTA shows; that's about half my TV. The advertisers who pay to run ads during those shows, have some (though not all, I'll admit) of their ads seen. The advertisers who pay to run ads during shows that are only transmitted encrypted, are never seen because I watch all that stuff through ad-free torrents. (So if you have an ad to run, make sure you place your order with someone who can actually show your ad to people -- i.e. not cable or satellite channels.)

      Cablecard is irrelevant, because no half-decent DVR will ever have the capacity to work with Cablecard. It's illegal and a contract violation to work with Cablecard while not sucking. Ergo, it's a negative bullet point on a DVR feature list, which tells everyone the DVR is crippled. Why would anyone say their product sucks?

      If you are frustrated by the lack of tools that work with your cableco, there is an answer: cancel your subscription. Stop paying them. If they ever decide they want your money, they will step forward and promise a plaintext service. Then everyone (viewers, cablecos, advertisers) will win. For now, the time is not right, because you're still paying them. You lose, advertisers lose, and cableco wins.

      • by Golddess (1361003)

        It's illegal and a contract violation to work with Cablecard while not sucking.

        And yet, strangely enough, Verizon, Comcast, etc have not sued TiVo into the ground.

        So which cable company's payroll are you on?

        • Pretty sure he was referring the CableCARD labs themselves. They have yet to make a viable and forward facing solution. Everything so far is a hack.
      • by roc97007 (608802)

        > It's illegal and a contract violation to work with Cablecard while not sucking.

        Hands down, this wins my favorite line of the week award.

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @10:57AM (#41681263) Homepage

      No. ATSC only or Clear QAM, which as of this week is going away. the FCC is allowing Cable providers to encrypt everything to keep the scumbag customers from recording with unauthorized devices.

    • by Kagato (116051)

      Out of the gate it's Clear QAM (which is going away) and OTA. However, this summer Comcast and Boxee filed a proposal with the FCC to deliver basic tier programming via E-DTA via a DLNA. I would have liked to see E-DTA looped into this.

    • Now that the FCC has approved the cable companies to encrypt the retransmitted over the air signals, I suspect you won't even be able to get that anymore very soon.

      • All this means that instead of rolling out a truck to put a filter on your line, they can control it from the base. When i cancelled basic cable, they tried to charge me $30 fee to disconnect. The reason is they had to roll a truck to install a filter so it would scramble the QAM/analog chans. Anytime they have to roll a truck for a customer, they try to get a charge off on it. They are usually happy to remove it if you complain, but they always bill first.
        • by jedidiah (1196)

          It still doesn't matter. The fact that you can "steal" cable is irrelevant. If they are OTA channels, then they should be available to anyone anyways as a matter of public interest.

          Any argument that starts with 'but we have to prevent you from watching OTA channels off of our cable" is inherently bogus.

    • One of the things keeping me from cutting cable is DVR access. Right now, I have a DVR that I use to record a bunch of shows for my kids, my wife, and me. We all then watch these shows at our leisure. If I were cutting the cord, I could get my local stations over the air, but then I'd be back in the "need to watch it when it is on" boat. I know I could build a MythTV or similar box, but I really don't have hundreds of dollars to drop on this. This also makes TiVo with a lifetime subscription less entic

    • I use a Windows 7 based PC with HDHomerun prime. Gets all the cable channels, no problem.
  • That is: They record everything, and your 'Record' action is basically a bookmark.
    Surely the redundancy is pointless.

    I suppose one issue might be - your local community cable channels.

    • by lengau (817416)
      There was a company that used to do that. IIRC, they got sued for copyright infringement. On the other hand, if you uploaded it, they could do fingerprinting to make sure it's the same video and then toss the duplicate.
  • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @10:17AM (#41680727)

    Most people have dreadful upload rates anyway ; the asymmetric connections we receive are very much tailored for us to be consumers, not servers.

    I'll lay dollars to donuts that it doesn't upload what you record - they just have a master server which records *everything* and your Boxee just sets a row in a database that tells it what you asked it to record. This way they can offer "unlimited" storage - they just retain a single copy of each program that users record, and look to see whether they should offer it to you based on what you "recorded".

    No doubt they hope this gets around the legal limitations that have been cropping up recently with other parties offering store-and-forward services.

    • by ccguy (1116865)

      Most people have dreadful upload rates anyway

      For reasonable usage you don't need to upload in real time, you can just save locally and upload as the bandwidth allows.

      I'll lay dollars to donuts that it doesn't upload what you record - they just have a master server which records *everything*

      Well, everything for all markets? If you record a TV show in New York, play it later and you see some West Coast network logo you are going to notice for sure...

      • Well, everything for all markets?

        Well, ONE of everything that was requested ... at least. It is better than 100,000 versions of Walking Dead being stored on their servers.

        • by ccguy (1116865)

          Well, everything for all markets?

          Well, ONE of everything that was requested ... at least. It is better than 100,000 versions of Walking Dead being stored on their servers.

          There's no such thing. There's lots of local programming, and even if we were talking of nationwide stations and shows, the commercials are different for example. My guess is that messing with commercials in any way would instantly lawyers smell blood...

      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        For reasonable usage you don't need to upload in real time, you can just save locally and upload as the bandwidth allows.

        For OTA HDTV, I get about 6GB/hour average when recording. With two tuners (like this box has), it wouldn't be at all unusual to record 4 hours of TV per day, which would be 24GB.

        To be able to upload that without falling behind, you'd need to have a 1GB/hour upload rate, which works out to a steady stream of around 2.8Mbps. Yes, it can be done (and easily with FiOS, for example), but you must have a good provider and no caps to make it work. I've completely ignored the use case of a family with cable TV

    • by sohmc (595388)

      Having a single master copy might be difficult do in part of the "redistribute" part of copyright. It's one thing if John Q. Public records a show in his private home for later watching. It's another for John Q. Public then makes copies of that recording to distribute to friends/family/etc.

      Also, local affiliates get ad money for local businesses so I'm sure that there would be a lot of push back on this.

      What the Boxee probably does is store the recording on a small drive (40GB maybe) and then uploads it a

      • They will need to record a copy per person. CableVision had to do this in order to get around these issues a few years ago. Cheers, Dean Collins http://www.coganation.net/ [coganation.net]
      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        What the Boxee probably does is store the recording on a small drive (40GB maybe) and then uploads it as bandwidth allows.

        As I mentioned in another post, having any local hard drive would basically mean that you're better off buying a full-fledged DVR with a 3TB drive in it, and then using something like Slingbox to watch on the go.

        This is because it costs about $40 right now for any spinning hard drive/flash memory that will give you enough storage for upload cache, while it only costs $150 for a 3TB drive, which makes the price difference less than 5 months of service. 3TB is over 450 hours of the highest bitrate HD availab

    • Well you would hope so, otherwise there servers will be full of X thousands of identical versions of a handful of popular shows.

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      Most people have dreadful upload rates anyway ; the asymmetric connections we receive are very much tailored for us to be consumers, not servers.

      I'll lay dollars to donuts that it doesn't upload what you record - they just have a master server which records *everything* and your Boxee just sets a row in a database that tells it what you asked it to record. This way they can offer "unlimited" storage - they just retain a single copy of each program that users record, and look to see whether they should offer it to you based on what you "recorded".

      No doubt they hope this gets around the legal limitations that have been cropping up recently with other parties offering store-and-forward services.

      While that is definitely an efficient model, the paid advertisers to those programs might have something to say about it. Right now, if you DVR something, you still get commercials. If Boxee grabs the live feed without commercials that won't work, nor will it work if they grab a local feed that is different than your locale. Advertisers pay good money for those time slots, it is unlikely that they will simply let that go.

    • by suutar (1860506)
      that would be cool, because they either wouldn't keep commercials or would have commercials for a (probably) different region, so I can see something new :)
  • Upload speeds and caps and this dont work that well.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @10:19AM (#41680741)

    How is this different than any other cloud storage provider, with the exception that the DVR content remains "at Boxee" and can't be copied?

    This is just like any other subscription service, IMO. Why does everything have to be some damned sinister all the time?

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      How is this different than any other cloud storage provider, with the exception that the DVR content remains "at Boxee" and can't be copied?

      This is just like any other subscription service, IMO. Why does everything have to be some damned sinister all the time?

      Because if the summary doesn't make it sound sinister, nobody will read the article.

      • Well these sinister evil hackers at the FSF will probably release a Boxee app that lets you actually DVR straight to an external server, hard drive, or other storage and fuck you and your $14.99. The icon will be the TPB logo.
    • by green1 (322787)

      In fact this is the same as the cable/satellite/telephone company's PVR system. They all stop working if you cancel your subscription too, even though the shows are stored locally you still can't get at them without paying hte monthly fee.
      On a side note, I work for a telco who looked in to network based PVR features, the end result was that it was determined that it was a legal nightmare that we didn't dare touch, so instead we put a PVR in each customer's house. Customer's get most of the same functionalit

  • The nice thing about TV shows is the fact that broadcasters often repeat them often and are available in other formats such as DVD's or online streaming services, so even if you were to cancel your service to Boxee the information isn't gone, just might be a slight time inconvenience if one wanted to watch it. Or one could just use a TV provider provided DVR box which records the digital stream directly to the box instead of to the "cloud", it just isn't "unlimited" .

    However from personal experience a 500GB

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      I have months of shows on my 1TB MythTV box. that is a mix of HD and SD content... Mostly HD lately. you can compress the crap out of Cable/Sattelite TV HD and not notice because it's already compressed to hell and back. Each episode of The daily Show in HD is only taking 250mb of space at 720p (it's broadcast in 720p, so any more resolution is a waste) and it looks as good as the live broadcast does.

      If you dont go insane and record 90 shows a day, 1 TB holds a little over 2 months of programming.

      • by green1 (322787)

        nitpick... is it broadcast at 720p or 1080i? I know at the telco I work for we receive all the feeds from the providers at 1080i with the exception of sports channel feeds which arrive at 720p. people have their choice of which resolution they want to set their digital boxes to, but that doesn't change how the providers send the feed, only how it's displayed on their TV.

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          Depends on the broadcaster. PBS here is 1080i at full bandwidth. ABC here is 720p at 1/2 bandwidth as they also insert another 4 SD channels. CBS around here is also 720p but 3/4 bandwidth as they have only 1 SD channel added...

          Everything on CableTV and dish is 720p. it's all compressed heavily as well. at Comcast we smashed every channel down to 1.8Mbps for HD and 890Kbps for SD.

          • by green1 (322787)

            wow... that is a heck of a lot of compression, we have HD down to about 6Mbps and SD at about 1.8Mbps (can't remember the exact numbers, I'm a field tech, I don't do the back end stuff) We send it all over ADSL, so a customer with 15meg service is allowed 1HD stream and 2SD streams at a time (plus internet) at about 35meg service we allow 3HD, 1SD (plus internet)
            If what you're reporting is common to the industry it explains why we constantly win in picture quality surveys....

            • by Lumpy (12016)

              Comcast does heavy compression, dynamic as well, some streams are dynamically delayed to match up the peaks and valleys so audio sync will have issues at times. The ad insertion guys go utterly insane because the commercial starts are random within a 3 second period. It is the only way to get all the services down the crap Coax that is in most cities. far cheaper to compress it to smudgy smears than to put in new cable.

  • ...recurring revenue better then one time revenue. News at 11!
  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @10:26AM (#41680825)

    It forgets to mention why I'm supposed to be outraged, or upset, or concerned, or... feel anything at all about this.

    Ok, so Boxee deletes your recording if you stop paying. So what? Who cares? Don't sign up if that bothers you.

    • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @10:35AM (#41680951) Homepage

      It forgets to mention why I'm supposed to be outraged, or upset, or concerned, or... feel anything at all about this.

      Didn't you get the memo? Unless otherwise stated those are the default reactions to be assumed for any Slashdot story, along with "confused" and "horny."

      • by tool462 (677306)

        Which, btw, has led to some very odd fetishes. To this day, I can't get off unless my wife reads SCO v. IBM legal briefs to me...

    • by dywolf (2673597)

      Or just wait til it gets hacked/jailbroken/modded to record locally.

    • I don't have a method to get recorded shows off of the HD Dish DVR in my living room, other than to play them out and record them (likely in standard def). It encrypts the files it records, I don't have a capture card that can capture raw HD, and since it's rented I would have to give it back if I quit the service.

      Boxee is simply removing the box from my house and taking internet bandwidth in exchange for more tuners. Nothing radical from a security standpoint.

    • It forgets to mention why I'm supposed to be outraged, or upset, or concerned, or... feel anything at all about this.

      Because this is the defacto power that all services hold over subscribers who store their data on servers they don't control. That this particular cloud service doesn't amount to anything particularly valuable isn't the point. The point is that the same thing will, and does, happen with all services that have exclusive control over someone else's data.

      I've seen some really short-sighted responses to the tune of, "just store a copy of your data on the cloud, and keep a copy on your own server." That would

    • You nailed it.
      For crying out loud, it's TV shows.
      What kind of pinhead is paying someone to store TV shows.
      (It was a rhetorical question.)

  • The strategy is brilliant as a way to lock people into your service for the long run. Especially when you consider that with de-dupe they are really only putting pointers to a given file in a database with your account. Like or not, this is the cloud doing what the cloud does best and is the way of the future.

  • Redirect the data? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stickrnan (1290752) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @10:27AM (#41680851)

    If the device has to go through your own network, can't you just redirect the upload address to one of your own choosing?

  • > I suspect Boxee is offering unlimited storage to make users
    > especially beholden to them. The more content you have, the
    > less likely you are to drop the service.

    Well, it works for governmemt, why shouldn't business adopt that business model? [instantrimshot.com]

  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @10:30AM (#41680875) Homepage
    Holding users hostage? Jesus, things are getting desperate in these tough economic times.
  • by zidium (2550286) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @10:30AM (#41680877) Homepage

    OK,

    About a year and a half ago, I received an offer to store unlimited numbers of MP3s on Amazon Cloud services. I was under the understanding that this would be good for the duration of my account, a perk of being an early adopter of Amazon Cloud Player.

    Then last month, I got a nasty email saying that my "trial" was over, that I was 20 GB over the new limit (200 "songs") and that I would have to pay every month for the service to keep the songs.

    That's why no one should sign up w/ Boxee assuming their unlimited offer will always be there. One day they're going to wake up and either suffer more money or lose content.

  • buy the show, watch it as many times as you want, download it to mobile devices, no need to worry about data usage if you're not on unlimited data

  • We had Uverse. Service was ok and the any room DVR is really nice but we cancelled because it was expensive and the primary consumer is my wife who was mostly watching OTA stuff anyway. Most of the cable only programming is crap reality shows anyway. So we put up an antenna and are recording using DVD recorders. It works but the DVD+RW's wear out after a few months and they are getting harder to find. And our DVD recorders only have SDTV tuners. And you can't watch something else while the recorder is recor
  • I noticed on Fred Wilsons blog today that the FCC endorsed "BoxeeTV" device has been announced - http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2012/10/boxee-tv.html [avc.com] This was sort of announced recently along with the FCC decision that cable tv providers no longer need to carry unencrypted cable http://www.theverge.com/2012/10/15/3506030/fcc-allows-basic-cable-encryption-protects-consumers-open-access [theverge.com] (guess those washington lobbying efforts paid off), One point of note the FCC announcements indicated that cable providers only
  • Boxee is just doing what Amazon does now with their Prime service. Prime offers you access to watch tons of TV and movies at no additional cost (beyond the cost of the Prime membership). You can queue up shows and watch them at your leisure. But if you cancel Prime...poof...there goes all your TV shows and movies in the queue. So you can only watch it for as long as your membership is active. Boxee is doing exactly the same thing.

    Cloud services are for people that are dumb and/or too lazy to figure out how

    • by darjen (879890)

      I pay for a music streaming service even though I could download or rip almost everything I want to listen to. Why? Because it is too damn convenient. I have no desire to mess with poor quality torrents or organizing my own music collection anymore. Hell, I used to spend more than $10 a month just buying CDs. And some of those I would get tired of pretty quickly. If you have a decent programming job/salary, $10 a month is not all that much.

      • But that $10 a month takes me a whole 8 minutes to earn. That's 8 minutes of my life wasted.
        • by darjen (879890)

          I know you're sarcastic, but I used to spend way more than 8 minutes a month tagging mp3s and renaming music files... That is hours of my time saved in exchange for that 8 minutes.

  • I guess some people might want to record things but it's not like there isn't enough of it on all day every day, and then there's the internet where all the decent TV channels archive everything so you can watch it later anyway. I never record anything and never struggle to find something to watch. Paying money to record live TV seems like paying money for internet pr0n.
  • They are just trying to avoid a repeat of the I-Openerdebacle, I assume.
    http://osiris.978.org/~brianr/mirrors/www.i-opener-linux.net/ [978.org]

    If you don't like their terms, don't use or pay for their service

  • Any cloud provider should allow exporting of any content that was put there at a lower monthly rate.
  • Sorry, I've got a Boxee Box currently, and the firmware is lagging very behind. With the apparent inability to keep the box up to date, I am far less inclined to get another Boxee. Considering Roku and/or AppleTV. (Or any other suggestions other than a full multimedia PC)
  • "an industry-first 'No Limit' DVR service that allows users to record as much TV content as they want, and access it from virtually anywhere" pretty well describes Netflix, just with more television and less flexibility.
  • Holy shit! A company provides a service and expects you to pay for it!!! This is an outrage! I'm calling my Congressmen!!!

    Obviously its a slow news day at Slashdot.

  • I live in Vancouver, British Columbia, and I get my TV & internet from the 'telephone' company (Telus, formerly BC Tel). The TV is IP-based and is decoded on Cisco Boxes running some variant of a Microsoft offering. My PVR content is recorded & stored on a local drive, but to play it back I need to have an internet connection (if the internet is down I can't watch live TV or play back recordings). This is part of the protection services built into the hardware to prevent me from copying off the r
  • So what's new here? When you keep our data on someone else's server and then pay them for access to it, guess what you're doing?

    I'm sure what I am saying now is has been repeated dozens of times above, but damn... obvious is obvious. The public needs to hear more about this issue.

  • Now my recording can be corrupted by slow upload bandwidth.
  • How is this different than the set top dvr my cable company provides? Other than unlimited storage? I can't download the programs from my box, and if I stop paying my monthly fee, I won't be able to access the bits on my box. So how is this different? By the way, except for a few small shows, if I can't catch up on stuff inside a month... well it isn't worth keeping around anyways. Cause I'm either never going to watch it, or there will be other ways to get the same show.
  • Yeah I take uploading video to the cloud over transfering them to my local hard drive any day of the week. I mean its so much faster, with less problems and I end up paying for it time and time again with a monthly service, who needs local storage, jeez!!

To thine own self be true. (If not that, at least make some money.)

Working...