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Summary:

Media center software company Boxee gave a sneak peek of its new dedicated hardware device that arrives at CES early next month, and has unveiled the latest version of its beta software.

Boxee box

Boxee box

Media center software company Boxee gave a sneak peek of its new dedicated hardware device that it will be releasing at CES early next month, and unveiled the latest version of its beta software tonight  in Williamsburg.

At the Boxee Beta Unveiling event, the company showed off the first of what it believes to be many consumer electronics devices that will features its software as the front end for watching online video in the living room.

“By the end of 2010, we expect to be on many consumer electronics devices as the primary software,” said Zach Klein, vice president of product at Boxee. But for now, the new Boxee Box, which was previewed at the event, will be built by D-Link, and will be available during the second quarter of 2010.

Boxee box back view

Boxee box back view

D-Link will be the manufacturer, but the device was designed by Astro, the same company that designed the Xbox 360 hardware and some Alienware computers. The device, which is shaped like a submerged cube, is shorter than a coke can and will include WiFi, USB ports, an HDMI connection, and an SD card. The box will also have optical and RC video connections as backups, and will come with a remote. According to Klein, the box will be priced around $200.

On the software side, the new beta software is designed to simplify the user experience for end users. “We tried to make things simpler,” said Boxee CEO Avner. That included taking out the application menu, which was difficult to navigate, and putting content right in front of the user, as well as making it easier to find content that friends or other connections are watching on Boxee.

The company also added a box  for featured content, which is currently picked by Boxee employees. But, Ronen alluded to the possibility of featured content being paid for by content owners. “We’re not getting paid for this — yet,” Ronen told the audience. “This is just stuff that we think is cool.”

The new software breaks out content into “shows,” “movies” and “music,” making it easier for users to find content that they are looking for, rather than searching through individual applications from programmers. But the most important aspect of the beta software could be the ability to customize the user experience.

The new version of the software allows users to add video programming to a section called “My Shows”– which will queue up new episodes of certain programs when they become available. The Boxee Beta also allows users to add some of Boxee’s 350 applications to “My Applications” — or, if they really like an application, they can add a bookmark to that app.

While not as key to the user interface or exploration of the content, the company says it has improved the quality of video running over the beta software, moving from OpenGL to DXVA and Adobe Flash 10.1. As a result, Ronen says the software will be able to run on lower-overhead computing devices.

In addition to new features, Boxee introduced new content partners and application makers on its platform.Boxee has about 350 apps on the platform, about half of which Ronen says were created not by Boxee, but by the company’s partners. At the Boxee Beta unveiling, Boxee announced Suicide Girls, Clicker, The Escapist, Qurious, and NYU’s ITP as new application partners.

  1. Congratulations to Avner and team on getting the box out and pulling together a nice launch event tonight!

    The new UI and hardware look great..looking forward to seeing the actual box in action in Vegas.

    Cheers, MK

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  2. Avner,

    Why? Why? Why, get into the hardware business? It’s a mugs game! Or did you convince D-Link to put your brand on the box and have them front the cost of inventory?

    The Box design is radical and may be its downfall. I like it but how do you stuff that square peg into the flat hole in a media stack?

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  3. Great launch tonight! Was pretty packed and the presentation was pretty cool! The implications and possibilities of this look soooo amazing! I can’t wait to get my Boxee Box! And by the way the box does still sit flat Timekeeper. Great job Avner much success to you. Hope the world is ready!

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  4. Chris Albrecht Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    OK, so the industrial design is very hip and all, but you can’t put anything on top of it. Or am I just nit-picking?

    I’m nit-picking.

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  5. I hate to say it but it is ugly and just won’t fit in my entertainment unit. What were they thinking? It is a clever design but reminds me of something coke or pepsi would put in the grocery store isle. How is this usable. Boxee isn’t the only thing that hooks up to my TV. They should have made it thin and long, like a laptop and put some cool lights on it. Once it is in my entertainment unit I won’t look at it again so why all the effort at making it artsy? They should follow what they are doing with software. Make it simple. Remove barriers to usage.

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  6. The Digital Hobo Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Looks shnazzy…..if you want to win some design awards. But as others have mentioned, there ain’t any chance in hell of that fitting in someone’s stack of CD, DVD, BluRay, SACD players. And if you are someone who is using a HTPC, then you dont really need the boxee box.

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  7. The design says something about where they think they “fit” in the traditional AV stack. They think they’re above it, outside of it, that the boxee box is the only one you should need. Just boxee, the internet and a big ole monitor.

    and be sure to put your boxee box where everyone can see it.

    bold statement.

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  8. [...] today by The Diffusion Group, which estimates that Internet set-top boxes like the Roku Player, the upcoming Boxee Box, and the Popcorn Hour devices will account for just a fraction of all broadband-connected consumer [...]

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  9. Absolutely no concern for the consumer. This box is unfortunately a bomb. Yes, they succeeded in building an iconic device… but it smells like arrogance on the part of team Boxee. We want the content… not your icon. Remember what is valueable… the content is, not your brand.

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  10. we realize the design is a bit funky. we wanted it to stand out a bit, and D-Link/Astro/Boxee figured we could afford to do it because it is such a small box.

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