Boxee TV: Where's the Love?

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The cable industry has notoriously low customer-satisfaction rates -- but the over-the-top Internet video device and cloud DVR service from Boxee is apparently faring even worse.

New York-based startup Boxee this fall landed a deal with Walmart to stock its $98 DVR set-top and service, aimed at letting consumers drop their pay TV service, in more than 3,000 stores nationwide as well as online (see Walmart to Sell Boxee's Internet DVR).

But as of Thursday, just 34% of Boxee TV reviewers -- 11 out of 32 -- said they would recommend the Boxee TV to a friend, according to the Boxee TV product page on Walmart.com.

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That’s compared with 56% of cable TV customers who said they would “definitely” or “probably” recommend their provider to others, according to J.D. Power’s 2010 annual pay-TV customer survey -- while 77% of satellite TV and 84% of telco TV customers would recommend their provider.

I emailed Boxee executives last week, requesting comment about why the recommendations for Boxee TV were relatively low, but I didn’t hear back.

So what’s the deal with Boxee TV?

According to several reviewers on Walmart.com who were disappointed, the initial Boxee TV model simply doesn’t work very well and lacks key features.

“With antenna hooked up to my TV, I get all local channels except for ABC. With the exact same antenna hooked up to the Boxee TV, I only got 4 channels and only 1 of them worked well at all,” according to one reviewer, who said he lives in Lewisville, Texas. “This means that the TV tuner used in the Boxee TV is extremely weak. The cloud DVR did not work and Boxee's excuse is that it is ‘beta.’ If Boxee upgrades the tuners and updates the software, this could be a killer item. However, for now, it is just a piece of junk.”

Another Walmart shopper in Los Angeles said that “it's painfully obvious that it was rushed to market for the holidays.” Regular live TV watching works fine, as long as you have a roof antenna, but you cannot pause live TV or set recordings from the remote, this reviewer wrote.

To be sure, some users were pleased with Boxee TV.

“Boxee pulls in channels better than my existing digital tuners. Is very easy to use and as a bonus has apps like Pandora, etc. as well. As the saying goes, wife is happy, everyone is happy,” a customer in Milwaukee wrote. “This looks like it could turn into a Roku with a over the air TV converter built in. Only time will tell if it gets the same level of applications that the Roku has.”

Another user, in Atlanta, said he was able to pick up 12 free HD channels and canceled his Dish service: “This device was definitely worth it for me, and I reccomend [sic] it to fellow ‘cord cutters,’” he wrote.

Follow me on Twitter: @xpangler

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