A universal TV box tries to untangle cord-cutters' confusion


What to do about all those set-top boxes piling up in the living room? Caavo wants to be the master box to run Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire and others. #TalkingTech.

DANA POINT — Remember the universal remote control, the device that controls all of your various remotes?

Now meet the universal box.

Caavo, introduced at the Code Media conference here, proposes to be a master box for all those growing set-top boxes and devices in the home— Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire, as well as the cable box.

The $399 unit will ship in the fall, the company says.

“We wanted to solve the living room problem, where you have many different devices coming at the television,” says co-founder Andrew Einaudi.

With more and more original programming for streaming services, a big issue for consumers is keeping track of what show is available on which box. For instance, “Mozart in the Jungle” is an Amazon exclusive, and only available for viewing on Amazon’s Fire or Roku, not Apple TV or Chromecast, while Apple iTunes movies can’t be seen on Chromecast or Roku.

The idea is to plug the Caavo into one HDMI port on the TV, and put all the boxes into the 8 HDMI ports on the back of the unit.

One advantage that Einaudi showed off here is voice search. Yes, you can use Siri with Apple TV, but Amazon’s Alexa doesn’t work. However, with Caavo, you can use Alexa to control Apple TV, Chromecast and even your regular TV channels.

Caavo raised $15 million in venture capital from DCM, Greylock Partners, Sky and Hearst. The idea was hatched by the late Blake Krikorian, the co-founder of Sling TV.

“When he told me his idea for how to solve this age-old problem, I knew he was on to something special,” wrote David Sze, a partner with Greylock, on the company blog.

Based on the demo Caavo showed here, the box could solve a lot of problems for those who don’t know where a particular show is playing. But after spending $149 for Apple TV, $100 for Roku and $89 for Fire TV, will consumers really want to fork over even more money for a universal box?

Sze says he sees Caavo as “an innovative solution to bring entertainment devices and services together into one seamless experience.”

Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham on Twitter, @jeffersongraham, and subscribe to the daily #TalkingTech podcast on iTunes and Stitcher. 

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