Caavo Aims to Be Ultimate Set-Top Box, But $400?

How much is simplicity worth to you? If your answer is “$400,” then Caavo has a solution coming that combines your Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, PlayStation, cable subscription and whatever else you have hooked up to your TV. 

The Caavo will be abe to sream everything from Apple TV to cable. Credit: Caavo

(Image credit: The Caavo will be abe to sream everything from Apple TV to cable. Credit: Caavo)

The Caavo box doesn’t provide any content of its own, but it does create a single unified interface for just about every other device.

The Verge reported on the Caavo box, which its creators described at the Recode Code Media event in Dana Point, California. Caavo’s leadership comprises a veritable “who’s who” of streaming tech, with backgrounds ranging from Xbox to Sling to iPods. The philosophy behind the Caavo (named for “un cavo,” or “one cable” in Italian) is that viewers who have already invested hundreds of dollars into streaming tech won’t mind investing a few hundred more to simplify their interfaces.

Here’s how the Caavo box works: First, you own a variety of different streaming devices. (It’s not clear exactly how many a single Caavo box supports, but a demo displayed a satellite feed, an Apple TV, an Amazon Fire TV, a Roku, a PS4, an Xbox One and a Chromecast, all hooked up simultaneously.) You hook them up to the Caavo box via HDMI. You plug the Caavo box into your TV. Then, you can control the whole setup with Caavo’s voice-enabled remote.

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The Caavo aims to be much more than just an HDMI-switcher. The device recognizes a wide variety of streaming devices, and can automatically configure them as soon as you plug them in. (You won’t have to assign descriptions and images to each one, in other words.) The Caavo also allows for universal search and universal watchlists, so you can find any program or pick up where you left off without having to delve into individual device menus.

The remote, too, aims to be a pretty comprehensive gadget. In addition to offering a voice search, you can also use the remote to control any connected streaming device, use voice commands to turn your TV on and off, and resume programs you’re already watching.

On the other hand, the Caavo still has a few limitations, aside from its potentially prohibitive price. Not every DVR service works with it, since DVR features require direct partnerships with cable and satellite providers. At present, it supports only Dish and DirecTV DVR. The Caavo box will theoretically work with Amazon’s Alexa, but the Verge was unable to test this feature. Company reps are still figuring out how to help users find the cheapest option for their shows (like Roku’s “My Feed” feature).

Finally, the device could be in short supply. Although Caavo aims to start shipping boxes this fall, it plans to make only 5,000 of them to start. That’s probably enough to satisfy an admittedly niche market, but it’s fairly paltry compared to how many individual streaming boxes are out there.

The Caavo box probably won’t be a necessity for many people, but now that companies have more or less perfected video streams, unified interfaces are the next big challenge for streaming tech.