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April 9, 2009 5:00 AM

Paul Allen's set-top venture upgrades its Moxi DVR system

Posted by Brier Dudley

Three months after launching its $799 Moxi set-top box, Kirkland-based Digeo is announcing a big upgrade of the system.

Whether this persuades people to buy Moxi devices remains to be seen. Digeo Chief Executive Greg Gudorf declined to comment on sales, but it's got to be tough launching premium hardware in a downturn.

Not to mention the fact that his bosses' biggest investment and Digeo's biggest customer, Charter Communications, is going through bankruptcy proceedings.

"We're satisfied with our start and we're looking forward to ever expanding our distribution and seeing our sales rise with it,'' he said.

Moxi_PlayOn.jpg

The Moxi upgrades look nice, though.

Six features were added, including PlayOn software, which enables Moxi-connected TVs to display Web video from sites such as Hulu.com, Netflix and YouTube. PlayOn was developed by Seattle-based Media Mall and normally costs $40. (It's shown on Moxi in the screenshot above)

Gudorf said Moxi is still working on partnerships and technology that will integrate Web video services directly into the Moxi system, rather than through an intermediary like PlayOn. But the bundling was a quick and cost-effective way to add the services.

Moxi also added DLNA technology so the devices can stream content from a home network, connecting to systems running Windows Media Connect and Twonky.

Rhapsody is being added to the system, along with a new Flickr browser called Mosaic that fills a widescreen display with thumbnail images for quicker scanning through photo collections.

Moxi is also letting users add favorite Web sites to the main menu and control additional devices, such as lighting and Web cams, through the Moxi remote. Users manage these additions at Moxi's Web site, which adds new buttons and features to the interface.

A few key upgrades to the Moxi business are pending. The devices are still only being distributed through Amazon.com, which doesn't give customers a chance to see them in person before buying.

There's also no word on when Moxi will start selling the small "Moxi Mate" companion devices that extend the system to additional TVs in the house. But Gudorf hinted that they should be available by the holidays.

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