With today’s arrival of Boxee TV, television fanatics were served the best alternative yet to paying $50 or more each month for their cable subscription. The $99 device, available now from Walmart and www.boxee.tv, plugs directly into TVs and – unlike Apple TV or Roku -- connects to high-definition network television and allows you to record that programming on an unlimited basis for just $10 per month (eventually, the price will jump to $15).
If you aren’t a sports fan, and if you don’t feel compelled to be up to date on "Mad Men," "Homeland," "Walking Dead" and other hit cable series, the device might be worth considering. Like Roku and Apple TV, it offers the viewing experience that keeps television alive in the age of the Internet – at just a fraction of the cost. That is, you can still invite all your friends over to watch "Modern Family" on your big-screen, high-definition TV. Plus, if you shell out an additional $8 per month for a Netflix subscription, you can still flip around for random movies and watch those shows everyone at the office is talking about, albeit a season or two behind.
Throw in the YouTube and Vimeo apps and, for what amounts to just $18 per month, you’ll get a ton of video content, many popular TV shows, all the movies Netflix can offer and the ability to record it all on an unlimited basis. Plus, the pre-loaded Pandora app offers another entertainment option.
But if you aren’t serious about cutting the cord from under your cable company, the device probably isn’t worth it. If your TV is less than five years old, it likely already has many of the Internet applications Boxee boasts, and you have access to all the programs. The unlimited DVR on Boxee is nice, but it won’t allow you to record the cable channels for which you pay your provider.
Finally, if you’re unsure whether to eschew cable, remember, it’s a serious decision. Without a proper subscription, you’ll be mostly unable to watch non-NFL sports on a whim (unless you pay the monthly fee for the pre-loaded MLB.tv application) and you can’t suddenly change your mind and decide you do want to tune in to the latest, greatest, cable TV program on a slow Sunday night. Plus, you'll still need to pay for Internet access, which is typically less expensive when packaged with a cable subscription.
Unless you’ve already built an impressive iTunes collection, the device is probably superior to Apple TV for its discounted price, its DVR capabilities and its network television connectivity. And notwithstanding the availability of Hulu Plus on Roku, it’s probably better than that competitor, too. But the bottom line is that unless you’re serious about saving on cable, you can probably just skip the Internet TV genre altogether.