If you’re passionate about television and movies, you may have run into this problem. The more video streaming boxes, DVRs, and game consoles you get, the more HDMI ports and remote controls you need. Frustratingly, you could find yourself baffled to try getting all of your content libraries and stores onto the same interface. After all, you can’t stream Amazon Video on an Apple TV without patching in your iOS device. An upcoming media box called Caavo hopes to solve that problem.
The $400 set-top box that can (almost) do it all
When Caavo launches in the fall of 2017, it promises to bring all of your video sources into a single interface. Andrew Einaudi and Ashish Aggarwal, co-founders of the company behind the upcoming set-top box, demonstrated Caavo’s capabilities on stage at Recode’s Code Media event on February 14, 2017.
The rear of the Caavo set-top box has eight HDMI ports and more.
The Caavo is a four-pound flat box with eight HDMI inputs, an ethernet port, two USB ports, a power port, and a 3.5mm jack for an infrared extension cable. The idea behind it is for you to plug your Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, DVR, and so forth into the Caavo. For its part, the new box will present every video option in a single interface. Caavo supports 4K video and includes a capacitive touch, voice-controlled remote.
The universal interface of the Caavo allows you to switch between streaming devices, cable boxes, and gaming consoles from one place.
With this barebones yet comprehensive interface, you should be able to see iTunes and Amazon Video on the same screen as well as look up titles on Netflix and Hulu. You’ll also be able to do things like switch from a cable feed to your streaming box, or flip over to your PlayStation 4. You can do all of this without ever changing inputs on your television.
Does Caavo have any limitations?
Bear in mind, this new set-top box is still a work in progress, so much can still change before it begins shipping in the fall of 2017. Currently, it only supports Dish and DirecTV DVR features. Other time-shifting features will require partnerships between Caavo and the manufacturers or cable providers.
If you collect enough boxes and game consoles to need something like the Caavo, you won't mind its price tag.
Another limitation of Caavo is the price point. At $399, this might be too steep a cost for many would-be consumers. After all, streaming TV devices currently range from $30 for a Chromecast stick to $200 for a new Apple TV. The folks behind Caavo believe that if you collect enough boxes and game consoles to need something like this device, you won’t be afraid to spend a fair chunk of change on a better television experience.
Finally, the Caavo will be limited in availability. The company only plans to ship close to 5,000 units in the first year of availability. The cofounders claim this is to make sure the product is as perfect as it can be, but the cynic in me suspects there might be some concern about the device not gaining traction early on.
The history of Caavo
In 2014, Blake Krikorian first founded Caavo. You might remember Krikorian as the co-founder and CEO of Sling Media, the company behind the Slingbox. Krikorian passed away unexpectedly in August 2016, leaving Einaudi and Aggarwal in charge of the project.
Einaudi serves as CEO of Caavo, named because un cavo translates to “one cable” in Italian. Aggarwal is the company’s chief technology officer. Einaudi worked on Jawbone’s earliest wireless headsets, then moved on to work at both Sling Media and Microsoft’s Xbox division. Aggarwal, who has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, worked on the PortalPlayer chip used in the first-generation iPod.
Do we really need a Caavo?
This problem ... [has] gotten much worse since then, since 2003. It's gotten more complicated.- Jason Krikorian
Is this type of device really necessary? Lead investor Jason Krikorian, one of Blake Krikorian’s brothers, thinks so. In an interview with The Verge, Jason Krikorian said, “This problem, so to speak, is something we’ve been thinking about since even prior to Slingbox. But I think it’s fair to say that it’s gotten much worse since then, since 2003. It’s gotten more complicated.”
Jason Krikorian isn’t wrong. I am a modest television viewer and gamer, but I find myself running HDMI cables from an Xbox One, an Apple TV, and a Roku player to my television. In addition, I’ve got my DirecTV satellite box. Switching from one to the other is certainly a convoluted mess, and finding precisely what I might want to watch often requires flipping inputs and swapping out remote controls. Being able to control everything from one interface is certainly a slick idea.
Is it worth $399, though? If you look at the Caavo as just a multi-HDMI switching box, then no. However, with the built-in interface to allow you to universally move from your iTunes Store account to your Amazon Prime Video library, and then check out what’s on Netflix and Hulu, the price doesn’t seem so steep.
What do you think? Will you be one of Caavo’s early adopters, or will you wait for competing devices to drive the price down some? Let us know in the comments.