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The Boxee Box Cometh

Dave Zatz —  December 7, 2009 — 9 Comments

Boxee-Box-DSM-380-front

Earlier this evening Boxee unveiled a beta software update with refreshed UI (screengrab below) and, more impressively, their first hardware partner. D-Link will be taking the Boxee Box (DSM-380) into production during the second quarter of 2010, for about $200. And those of us attending CES will get to see the device in action. While the Boxee box may not sit as nicely in your entertainment space, the unique form sure has more personality than Roku‘s off-the-shelf enclosure. Specs as follows:

  • Item (WxDxH): 120mm x 120mm x 120mm
  • 1 HDMI Connector
  • 1 Optical Digital Audio (S/PDIF) Connector
  • Composite Audio Connectors
  • Power Button
  • AC Power Connector
  • Ethernet Connector and Wi-Fi (802.11n)
  • 2 USB 2.0 Connectors
  • SD Card Slot

Click to enlarge:

apple-lala-itunes

The New York Times reports that Apple has acquired music streaming service Lala. However, I didn’t find the original “in talks to acquire” story very compelling, as my previous four employers were all engaged in dialogs with various suitors at various times before ultimately being purchased. (There can be only one.) But now that this has been confirmed as a done deal, it’s worth dissecting.

Regular readers may recall that I’ve been pining for a subscription-based iTunes music service. And, perhaps, Lala is the missing link to make it happen. Yet the Times suggests this deal may not be about Lala itself, but rather its brain trust and intellectual property.

Apple would primarily be buying Lala’s engineers, including its energetic co-founder Bill Nguyen, and their experience with cloud-based music services.

If accurate, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Apple shut down Lala in the near term — Google’s preferred M.O., as seen with EtherPad yesterday. Until similar functionality can be integrated into Apple’s iTunes ecosystem. Of course, the digital landscape has changed with services like Pandora, Sirius XM, and Real Rhapsody all streaming to the iPhone and web. But Apple, who controls both the horizontal and vertical for many along with possessing studio relations (and yank), will have no problems competing should they go down this path in some manner. Bring it on.

Comcast xfinity tv everywhere remote dvr scheduling bandwidth usage meter gifts

With the NBCU news drowning out other Comcast conversation, I thought I’d take this moment to tally up the gifts the MSO has promised to all the good little subscriber girls and boys this year. First and most important, TV Everywhere, er, On Demand Online, um, Xfinity is scheduled to roll out before the start of Hanukkah on December 12th. Yes, that’s right, Broadcasting and Cable has discovered that the new name for the Comcast service will be Xfinity. Actually it will be Fancast Xfinity TV, but you can call it Xfinity for short. If you’ve been following along with the story so far, the new Comcast offering will let subscribers to both television and broadband service access TV shows anywhere and everywhere from a Comcast portal site. Never again be without NCIS, NCIS LA, or the upcoming NCIS Louisville, NCIS Dubuque, or NCIS Stars Hollow.

Of course, if you want to watch a lot of TV online, you’ll need to keep track of your bandwidth usage. Comcast now has a bandwidth meter in trials that should roll out to all customers in Q1 of next year. We first heard about ISP bandwidth meters back when operators started testing bill-by-the-byte models in 2008. Now that Comcast has one coming to market (with an independent third-party company validating measurements), it will be interesting to see any aggregate data collected on consumer bandwidth usage. How much are we really using the interwebs? I’ll be curious to get a look at not only how online TV affects my personal bandwidth numbers, but also how Slacker usage, Squeezebox listening, and massive photo uploading impact my meter readings.

Finally, Comcast has promised that remote DVR scheduling is on the horizon. Granted the company’s been a bit busy of late, but I’ve been checking on the feature landing page and haven’t seen any changes to note from Dave’s original report. Then again, Comcast has probably been keeping tabs on whether we’ve been bad or good. If we all stay on the non-naughty list, maybe we’ll see remote DVR features by CES.

Need a Google Wave Invite?

Dave Zatz —  December 2, 2009

google-wave-invite

I’ve read the posts. I’ve watched the videos. I’ve even poked around the web app. Yet, I still don’t get Google Wave. From Google’s product description:

Google Wave is an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. A wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

Perhaps I’ve already met my limited web collaboration needs in other ways. So don’t let my lack of enthusiasm or perception stifle your curiosity. Leave a comment below if you’d like a Google Wave invite and we’ll randomly select 8 winners tomorrow. (And please note the timing caveat in the Wave pictured above.)

CrunchPad-crunched

Earlier this month, rumors of the demise of Michael Arrington’s Crunchpad may have been exaggerated or fabricated. However, those prescient vaporware tales have come to pass — and it seems the $200 $300 $400 web tablet is dead. At the very least, it may launch without Arrington and/or the CrunchPad moniker in what amounts to dueling partnered companies with perhaps divergent goals. As I’ve blogged, I had concerns that this project would be done in due to naiveté in the consumer electronics space, versus Arrington’s Web 2.0 expertise and insight, but not in this particular manner. Arrington expresses his disappointment:

Mostly though I’m just sad. I just wanted a tablet computer that I could use to consume the Internet while sitting on a couch. And I’ve also lost a friend – [Fusion Garage CEO] Chandra spent months in our office this year and, until a week and a half ago, was the kind of young, determined entrepreneur that I admire. I thought we’d be friends for the rest of our lives.

Whether or not Arrington’s in the game, couch-based computing products will indeed infiltrate our homes via netbooks, Kindle-esque devices, and maybe even an Apple tablet. Not to mention, Google’s minimalist, Linux-based Chrome OS seems perfectly suited and designed for this purpose. And smartphones, which meet a similar need, cannot be overlooked. While vacationing in Germany, I had a chance to examine Arne Hess’s HTC HD2. The massive 4.3″ 800×480 (WXGA) capacitive touchscreen in such a sleek, slim enclosure would make for a nice coffee table web browsing tablet. (Although, I’d like to see that aging Windows Mobile OS replaced by Android.)

htc-hd2