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Digeo unveils Moxi Mate multiroom DVR extender, software updates

The TiVo competitor gets a multiroom option, along with some other minor software upgrades.

Digeo Moxi and Moxi Mate
The Moxi DVR and its new extender (right), the Moxi Mate. Digeo

When we last heard from Digeo in April, the company was adding several digital media extras to its flagship Moxi DVR. Flash forward to August, and the company is back with more updates, the biggest of which is a new hardware announcement. The Moxi Mate is an "extender" that adds multiroom capability to any household with a Moxi DVR. The box is basically a thin client (no hard drive) that can access recorded content from the main Moxi, as well as all of the system's online and home networking digital extensions (Rhapsody, PC-based media streaming, PlayOn content such as Netflix and Hulu, and so forth).

Sounds great, but there are some caveats that prospective buyers should know. Most importantly: the Moxi Mate can't currently support the streaming of live TV--only programs that you've previously recorded on the main Moxi DVR. And while you could theoretically have several Moxi Mates in a household, Digeo currently supports only one of them streaming from the main Moxi at a time. (Of course, all of these issues could possibly be addressed in future firmware updates--but those are the product's initial notable limitations.) The other big deal: the Mate doesn't have a built-in Wi-Fi connection, so you'll need to supply an Ethernet network connection.

On the plus side: the video streaming is said to be nearly instantaneous, unlike TiVo's multiroom solution, which requires the video files to be copied to the hard drive in another room first prior to viewing. Also, the Moxi Mate will automatically resume paused programs. So, if you watch half of a movie on the main Moxi, you can retire to the bedroom and easily pick up where you left off on the Moxi Mate.

In addition to the Moxi Mate announcement, Digeo also rolled out new software to existing Moxi DVR owners that adds a variety of small upgrades. Among them:

Moxi grid guide
The new grid guide will be available this week. Digeo

Horizontal "grid view" EPG: The electronic program guide currently uses a split-screen view (channels on the left, programs on the right). The new update will allow users to toggle to a more traditional horizontal timeline view.

Switched-digital video support: Some cable systems use switched-digital video (SDV) to cram more digital and HD channels into increasingly limited bandwidth. The Moxi will now support those channels with the addition of an outboard SDV tuner, which should be available from local cable companies that utilize SDV technology. (For an example of how this works in the real world, see how blogger Dave Zatz got his TiVo HD working on an SDV cable system.)

Support for external storage up to 6TB: The Moxi already supports external storage (for expanding recording capacity beyond the unit's built-in hard drive). But the new software update ratchets the supported capacity to a whopping 6TB, or 1,000 HD hours of content. You'll need to invest in one of Lacie's 4big Quadra drives, which can be attached via the Moxi's eSATA port.

Expanded DLNA codec support: Digeo didn't include a lot of specifics here, but apparently the company has expanded the range of compatible file formats that will be streamed from networked PCs. The coveted MKV container was mentioned, but the extent of the compatibility is unclear.

The Moxi Mate should be available for sale by the end of this week. It'll retail for $400, but existing owners of the Moxi can get that price cut in half. Likewise, Digeo is offering a package deal for new Moxi owners: a Moxi DVR plus the Moxi Mate for $1,000 (a savings of $200 versus the price of buying them separately). Digeo also offers installment payments on its DVR, so prospective buyers can spread the payments over installment plans of 4 to 20 months (see http://www.moxi.com/us/buy_now.html for info).

We've been living with the Moxi DVR for the past couple of months, and will have a complete review later in August. In the meantime, let us know if you think the Moxi Mate and the new upgrades make it a compelling alternative to TiVo and cable company-supplied DVRs.

Editors' Note (August 17, 2009): This post has been updated to correctly reflect how the Moxi Mate handles resuming paused programs.