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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

January 8, 2009 at 12:12 PM

CES: Digeo launches Moxi consumer box, finally (UPDATE 2, with Comcast)

Six years after Paul Allen’s Kirkland-based Digeo bought Moxi, a promising digital media hub with an award-winning user interface, the company just released a Moxi device to the consumer market.

The $799 Moxi High Definition Video Recorder with dual tuners and a 500-gigabyte hard-drive is available to start from Moxi.com and Amazon.com. Also unveiled today is a Wii-sized extender device for other TVs in the home, called a “Moxi Mate,” but it won’t be available until later in the year.

Here’s the Moxi DVR:

DGO_0034-W-RGB.jpg

The interface:

Moxi_Menu_channels.jpg

Allen started Digeo in 1999 and the company’s slowly but steadily been providing advanced set-top boxes to cable companies, which have installed about 500,000 units in customer homes. The company’s also platformiizing its software, licensing it to audio equipment company Monster for an upcoming line of Monster digital video recorders and media extender devices.

The Moxi device is being positioned as a premium product for digital cable customers. It can store up to 75 hours of 1080p content, and has the ability to expand capacity through an external eSata drive. Other connectors include HDMI, USB, coax, Ethernet and a cablecard slot.

Like other devices being announced at the show, the Moxi includes cutomizable software widgets that can, for instance, display images from partners such as Flickr. Still in the works are agreements with streaming video services; Amazon seems like a likely partner given the distribution deal.

Moxis can also link to PCs on a home network, to play songs from iTunes through a home theater system.

Chief Executive Greg Gudorf, a former Sony executive, acknowledged that similar capabilities are available from Tivos, Windows Media Center and devices available for lease from cable providers.

But he said Moxi is superior because of its interface and because the system was designed from the start for high-definition content and widescreen TVs.

“You can do many elements of it on a P.C. but you can’t do it with the less complicated approach that a Moxi DVR does,” he said.

A picture from the press conference with Gudorf, the Moxi box and the upcoming extender device:

DSCN0037.JPG

A reader asked whether these devices can be substituted for Comcast cable boxes. I asked the same thing during the press conference – specifically whether Digeo had to talked to Comcast about enabling the small extender device to substitute for one of the “DTA” devices Comcast will require on all TVs soon. Digeo asked, but apparently didn’t reach an agreement on this with Comcast. I’ll look into whether the Moxi DVR can be subbed for a Comcast DVR by using a cablecard but am thinking the answer will be yes.

UPDATE: The response from a Digeo spokesman: “The Moxi HD DVR can replace either a Comcast DVR using CableCARD or replace the Comcast DTA.”

Allen’s attending CES, according to his longtime friend and Digeo board member Bert Kolde, but he didn’t attend the Moxi press conference (or Steve Ballmer’s Wednesday keynote, even though two front row seats were reserved for him).

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