Moxi uses online video to sweeten its high-def DVR

Digeo, a manufacturer of cable ready set-top boxes, has announced a slew of updates for its flagship device, the Moxi HD DVR. The free software update bolsters the device’s core functionality with access to a number of top-tier online video hubs and Rhapsody’s streaming music service.

The Moxi HD DVR made its debut earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Positioning itself as a subscription-free alternative to devices like cable DVR units and Tivo, the Moxi HD DVR unifies the viewing of cable, PC and web-based media on one device. After its launch, the Moxi HD DVR garnered attention with its slick (and Emmy award-winning) user interface, its list of high-def DVR features (recording and storing shows in HD, etc.), and is integration with photo sharing site Flickr.

Today’s update represents an expansion of these capabilities, with the added ability to browse and stream video content from Hulu, CBS, Netflix, YouTube, CNN and ESPN. On top of that, it grants access to the online music service Rhapsody. Moxi users can now access content from all of these services directly from the device’s menu system, allowing direct playback on a connected HDTV. As an added bonus, Moxi is also rolling out DLNA certification, a streamlined standard for sharing media across multiple devices, as part of the update.

From the looks of it, Moxi had to jump through a couple hoops to get  access to some of the online video content. Whereas Rhapsody runs through a dedicated app, the web video content is handled by PlayOn’s digital media server software. This isn’t too much of a setback since Moxi has agreed to eat the $39.99 licensing fee that comes with PlayOn, but it’s a far cry from the reliability that comes with native applications from each of the video sites.

Still, what’s interesting about this update is how it uses online video to boost value. As a cable ready DVR, the Moxi is designed for consumers who already have access to the wealth of content coming from their cable operators. But, rather than presenting consumers with an either/or option, Moxi embraces the advantages that come with tapping both content pools. On one hand, it keeps the cable operators happy since Moxi enriches their core product, but addresses the increasing pull of online viewing. It’s undoubtedly a smart way to build out a device — and with its hefty $799 price tag, the Moxi HD DVR can use all the extra value it can get.