The Boxee Box: It Ain't TV

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Startup Boxee took the wraps off its first Internet TV set-top Monday night. The box, manufactured by D-Link, actually looks more like a melting black ice cube (see below).

The Boxee Box is supposed to appeal to a less techno-geek-hobbyist audience, by eliminating the need to install the software on a PC hooked up to your TV. Part of the pitch — that it supposedly lets you cancel your cable, satellite or telco TV service: “Why pay for stuff you don’t watch? The Boxee Box lets you watch thousands of popular TV shows and movies for FREE!”

But the top two video services Boxee touts for its service are Netflix’s Internet streaming service and MLB.TV — neither of which, it turns out, is actually free. Nor is Boxee the only way to get these services on your TV; Roku’s devices also provide access to Netflix and MLB.TV, among other services.

Other Boxee content partners include Comedy Central, Pandora, Last.fm, and Yahoo’s Flickr. Boxee also lets you “post things you like to social networks like Twitter, Last.FM, or Tumblr.”

Fun, maybe. Whatever you want to call Boxee, though, it’s not TV — you know, the kind of TV that accounts for 99% of the time Americans spend watching video.

Boxee got into a well-publicized spat with Hulu, which blocked access to the software. The startup now says it’s looking at trying to use a Mozilla-based browser to go around Hulu’s restrictions.

New York-based Boxee has received $10 million in funding from General Catalyst, Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures.

D-Link’s Boxee Box is slated to available in the second quarter of 2010; D-Link hasn’t determined pricing but Boxee execs have said they want it to be less than $200.

D-Link plans to demo the box at CES 2010 next month. The device includes an HDMI interface, 2 USB ports for expansion, Wi-Fi 802.11n and wired Ethernet, and an RF remote.

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