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Samsung buys streaming company Boxee, promptly shuts down its cloud DVR service

Consumer Reports News: July 08, 2013 09:38 AM

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Last week, Samsung--which has made access to online content a key component of its TV strategy, purchased streaming-video developer Boxee, one of the earlier streaming-video companies. But one unique feature of its most recent streaming-media player, the $99 Boxee Cloud DVR--the ability to record programs and store them in the cloud--is being shut down on July 10th.

That means anyone who purchased a Boxee Cloud DVR (former called Boxee TV) will lose their recordings after that date. Although the boxes will no longer connect to the Boxee service, you can still use them to access content from Boxee's partners, which include Netflix and Vudu. If you recently purchased a Boxee Cloud DVR from the company's website with the intent of using its cloud service, Boxee is honoring its 90-day return policy. For those who purchased a player from a retailer, you'll need to contact the store to see if its return policies apply.

After an initial appearance as Boxee TV late last year, the player was relaunched this past April as the Boxee Cloud DVR. In addition to its virtual DVR feature--both a free and a paid "unlimited" service were available--the streaming media player comes with an antenna that provides users with free over-the air broadcasts in some major markets, making it one of the most unique players in our recent Streaming Media Player Ratings (available to subscribers).

For more information and tips, check out our free streaming media players and services buying guide.

It appears that Samsung purchased Boxee, which is based in Tel Aviv, Israel, primarily for its talent and other assets, presumably to make improvements to the company's Smart Hub smart TV platform, available via Samsung TVs and to a lesser extent, Blu-ray players and Internet-enabled home-theater systems. Before making settop boxes (such as the original Boxee Box), Boxee was in the digital video software business.

But Boxee faces an increasingly competitive streaming-media-player market, trailing market leaders such as Apple TV and Roku. It's not yet clear if Samsung will continue to market Boxee-brand settop boxes, or simply integrate some of the company's technology and experience with software and user interface into its own suite of online services, available on TVs and other connected devices. It's hard to imagine Samsung continuing to offer Boxee Cloud DVR players now that its distinguishing feature is inactive.

If you purchased a Boxee Cloud DVR, let us know what you thought of the product, and how you feel about Samsung shutting down its cloud DVR service. And if you're in the market for a streaming-media player, make sure you check out our Ratings of 16 basic and advanced models.

Boxee TV: We're pleased to announce that the Boxee team will be joining Samsung

James K. Willcox

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