It's really too bad when a company comes so close to producing a great product but then falls short for some reason. When it comes to Moxi, they worked hard to provide a whole-house, HD-centric experience but then became bogged down in options and over-complicated menus. Add to that the fact that the whole-house portion of the system doesn't allow you to manage very much and you have a half-baked addition to the third-party cable DVR landscape.
Before we get to the bread and butter, let's talk about the nuts and bolts. The Moxi HD DVR is a three tuner CableCARD compatible DVR. The device comes with a 500GB hard drive which will nab you about 75 hours of HD recording or around 300 SD. This is expandable by using external hard drives. The company states on their website that you can add up to six terabytes of storage. It would be nice to see more on board storage space but at least they've given you the option of adding your own.
On the rear of the device, you'll find all of the necessary connections to make it compatible with your TV including HDMI, component and composite video. You can also get audio via stereo or coax and optical S/PDIF. Along with these A/V connections, you'll also find a USB port (mainly for attaching a tuning adapter) and a 10/100 Ethernet port.
Overall, the hardware does look sexy and comes with all of the connections you need to ensure you get the best picture quality to your set. The back panel is arranged well and you'll easily be able to find the proper connection for your home theater. The piano black finish should fit nicely into most A/V stacks.
Setting up the Moxi is, well, difficult. Don't think that you can do everything you need to do right at your TV because you'll require access to a PC in order to complete the setup. It's a convoluted process by where you'll be required to register at the Moxi website using a number provided by the device. Once you do that, you'll then need another number from the website to input into your new DVR. This process takes about 20 minutes total and then you'll finally be able to start enjoying TV. That is once the unit boots up.
Much like TiVo, it takes forever for the Moxi unit to start. Seriously, ten year old PCs boot faster than this. For whatever reason, this just seems to be the norm with DVRs whether you talk about cable provided DVRs, TiVo or Moxi. Why, I'm not sure but it seems as though this is one place everyone could stand to do better.
Once your Moxi is up and running, learning your way around the menus should be a priority since it'll probably take some time. They're not overly complicated but the company has added a lot of options that most people are probably not going to be interested in. While complicated, the menus do provide some interesting options such as the HD menu. When selected, the HD menu will provide you with a list of all currently playing shows or movies that are in high definition. If you want to see the best quality of television, this will become your default list. From here you can either view or set to record any of the shows.
This portion of the menus is excellent. Being able to quickly locate HD content is something that I enjoyed while using the Moxi. Beyond that however, the menus begin to fall apart. Recorded TV can be difficult to access. You have to press to the right to access different episodes as hitting select simply shows you a description of the show and how many episodes you've recorded. This can be confusing as most other DVRs allow you to simply hit select. Navigation of the menus is something that companies should almost standardize. Changing the way people are used to doing things isn't easy and while Moxi isn't responsible for how other companies build their software, they should take note of it. It helps people feel comfortable with your product. (Needing a tool tip to access a grid guide is a bit silly. Just put the button on the remote please. And don't make me double tap to get there.)
I'll be providing a more in-depth look at Moxi's online offerings in a future article but in short: limited. While you get access to services like Rhapsody out of the box, in order to use video services like Netflix, Hulu Plus or Youtube, you'll be required to use your PCs DLNA functionality. This is an ok solution if you're computer savvy enough to set it up, have the network to do so and if you want to pay for Play-On media server. If not however, you're kind of stuck with the limited offerings that Moxi ships with.
In all honesty, if you want access to online video services like those mentioned above, you're better off going and spending another $70 or so on a Roku box. You'll get better functionality. It'll cost you a bit more but better that than wading through menus just to wait for your Netflix video to buffer.
The vast majority of people aren't going to go to the trouble of setting up a service like Play-on. It's just not worth the trouble. Either offer the service or don't. Taking the time to offer a half-done solution is just going to anger people when they know there are easier ways to accomplish the task.