Boxee rebrands new device as Cloud DVR, tones down cord cutting rhetoric

Okay, I didn’t see this coming: Boxee has rebranded its new consumer electronics device just five months after it first became available. The $100 device, which combines live TV and cloud DVR functionality with apps like Netflix, (s NFLX) is now being called Boxee Cloud DVR, after previously being marketed as Boxee TV. The company also used the rebrand to unveil a free service tier for its DVR.

Boxee's Cloud DVR now comes with a limited free service tier.

Boxee’s Cloud DVR now comes with a limited free service tier.

The new Boxee Cloud DVR box offers users unlimited storage for their TV recordings in the cloud. Unlimited playback, as well as the capability to view recordings on computers and mobile devices, costs users $10 a month. The new free service tier offers up ro five hours of DVR playback every month. There is still a free test period while the service is in beta.

So why did Boxee take the unusual step to rebrand a product just months after launch? The company’s VP of communications Andrew Kippen told me Tuesday that the previous name didn’t accurately capture the device’s functionality, letting consumers to believe that it was primarily a media player similar to Apple (S AAPL) TV or Roku. The new name is meant to emphasize the DVR functionality as a key differentiator.

However, It’s worth noting that the company’s DVR service is currently just available in eight markets. Kippen told me that the plan is to extend the service to 26 markets by the end of the year, which should cover most of the country.

As part of the rebrand, Boxee seems to also have toned down its cord cutting rhetoric. The company made its ability to replace cable a key selling point when it unveiled its new device last fall, even promising “Free TV” prominently on the Boxee TV packaging.

On its newly-launched website, Boxee instead compares the device to TiVos and cable DVRs, touting unlimited storage and not free broadcast content as the key differentiator. That has likely to do with the fact that Boxee wants to get access to cable content as well. The company struck an agreement with Comcast (s CMCSK) to access encrypted basic cable signals last year.

That’s a decidedly different path than the one taken by Aereo, which has been battling Comcast’s NBC and other boradcasters in court for its take on cloud TV. Check out our paidContent Live conference in New York next week for a fireside chat with Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia.

Take a look my Boxee Cloud DVR unboxing video below: