For those tired of an ever-increasing TV bill, it’s Sezmi to the rescue.
The Belmont, Calif. company launched its hybrid TV service in the Orange County, Los Angeles area this week with service plans between $4.99 to $19.99.
The lower price includes stuff that is mostly free already, including local TV channels and Youtube videos, plus access to on-demand movies for an extra fee.
The higher-price subscription adds access to 15 cable channels, including CNN, Nickelodeon and Discovery (see chart on lower right). The company has contracts with Turner Broadcasting, Discovery, Viacom and NBC Universal.
Users must invest in a $299 box and have high-speed Internet at home. The box mixes free over-the-air local TV channels with on-demand movies and videos and the cable channels.
Now, Sezmi calls the box, which includes a 1-terabyte DVR, a hybrid model of broadcast and broadband. It’s not a souped-up digital converter box that millions of analog TV users bought last year in order to watch local channels.
|Sezmi cable channels|
Its “advanced reception system,” which looks like a black speaker, receives over-the-air channels better than a plain old converter box apparently.
“It is the most effective indoor TV reception system on the market—yet small enough to sit on a book shelf,” says the company. Since I haven’t tested this out myself, I don’t know if the technology can somehow reel in local TV channels like Fox that are otherwise absent unless you have a sturdy rooftop antenna.
But don’t forget to read the fine print.
You’ll still need high-speed Internet of at least 1.5 Mbps, which means you’ll continue to have a monthly bill with either your cable or DSL provider. You’ll need a home Wi-Fi network. On-demand movies cost $0.99 to $4.99 to rent. And the upfront $299 investment may be off putting for folks who have previously invested in the next great dud. Still, with a 1 TB hard drive that offers many non paid-TV users a video recorder, the price almost seems too little.
There’s a long list of defunct companies that offered set-top boxes and lifetime subscriptions for consumers who wanted to watch Internet video on demand on a TV. Remember Akimbo, ReplayTV, and Interactive Television Networks? And don’t forget, there are other new Web TV devices now available or coming soon, including the D-Link Boxee Box (service is expected to be free) and Internet TVs like the Vizio VIA.
It’s an interesting venture but with anything that requires an upfront investment, I’d worry about its longevity. This week’s announcement is that the hardware is available at local Best Buy stores. But call ahead to see if the store carries the box.
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