28 Comments

Summary:

I just put in my order for the Boxee Box. With the recently unveiled Apple TV offering little more than Netflix streaming and Google TV trying to play nice with cable subscriptions and DVRs, this one looks like the right choice for my living room.

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I have to admit: I wasn’t so sure about Boxee’s prospects when Google unveiled its plans for Google TV earlier this year and reports about a completely revamped Apple TV device started to pop up soon after.

The fact that Boxee had to delay its launch date because of a decision to switch up its chip architecture late in the game didn’t really help either.

But having seen Jobs present the Apple TV, and having endured a painful presentation of Google TV at Google I/O, I’ve now made up my mind: I’m going with Boxee for my personal living room set-up. In fact, I just put in my pre-order for the Boxee Box.

Let me tell you a little bit about my current set-up first: I’m not actually a heavy Boxee user. I don’t have my PC hooked up to my TV, but instead I watch most online video on my Macbook. In that set-up, Boxee hasn’t really solved many problems for me. Sure, I use it from time to time to stay up to date. But at the end of the day, if I want to watch something on Hulu, I just go straight to Hulu.

So why add a box in to the mix?  One word: Family. Using a computer as a primary video-viewing device works great — until you need to get some work done while your daughter wants to watch Yo Gabba Gabba.

I’ve also been testing the waters with a number of video streaming devices in recent months, and I’ve fallen in love with Netflix on the living room’s big screen. Now I want more. I want the same instantaneous experience, but with additional content from other sources. I want to be able to stream local content from my NAS without having to worry about the video format, play vacation videos straight from my Kodak Zi8, and go to PBSKids.com to watch Flash content all with the same device.

Well, guess what: Apple TV won’t offer any of this. Steve Jobs showcased a device that is little more than a Netflix streamer with a nice form factor. Google TV might be better suited for what I want, but it seems like Google is still very focused on adding online content to your cable or satellite service. I don’t have either, and my DVR has been collecting dust ever since I cut the cord and said good-bye to my cable company more than a year ago. So why buy a companion box if I don’t have anything to accompany it with?

Of course, chances are that Google TV will eventually have more apps than Boxee. For now, though, Google is putting most of its emphasis on the web. The company won’t release its Google TV SDK until 2011, and for now it’s simply advising web developers on how to get their sites and web apps up and running on its TV platform. Well, guess what: All of those apps and sites will also be available through Boxee.

However, what’s really exciting about Boxee to me is that its app ecosystem actually is not just open, but accessible, meaning that almost anyone with some XML knowledge can whip up his own application. That allowed a number of mashups and remixes, and I’m excited about the things that will come to Boxee from the developer community further down the line. Maybe, at some point, someone will even throw together a Yo Gabba Gabba app. My daughter would definitely dig it.

Related content on GigaOm Pro: TV Apps: Evolution from Novelty to Mainstream (subscription required)

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  1. yo, what’s a NAS?

  2. I too cut the cable cord over a year ago and haven’t regretted it. I use an OTA antenna to receive HD broadcasts and I record out favorite shows on a HDD/DVD recorder STB. Everything else I download and play through the USB slot on my Oppo DVD player which will only accept Divx encoded programs so I have to convert everything. The Boxee Box will do everything I want it to do with the possible exception of Netflix which both Intel and Netflix are working with D-Link to solve. I love the RF remote which is the best design I’ve seen. Since the Boxee will stream from my NAS (Network Access Storage) I won’t have to use a flash drive to watch my videos or listen to my music. It also has a SD card slot so my camcorder HD videos can be viewed directly from the memory card. I too preordered a Boxee Box and I can’t wait. My setup is easy to use and the Boxee Box will make it even better by adding content while still being easy to use.

  3. If your hoping the box supports netflix, I wouldnt get your hopes up, in fact, I seriously doubt it will happen. it would be nice, dont get me wrong. they keep side stepping questions about it on every forum Ive seen, and alot of people arent ordering for that reason alone. (including me) when I hear theyve worked something out with netflix and linux in general, ill order one, but, until then ill use it on my mac, and mythbox in the living room. looks nice though! :)

  4. “Using a computer as a primary video-viewing device works great — until you need to get some work done while your daughter wants to watch Yo Gabba Gabba.”

    Well there’s your 1st problem. Why not just buy another pc? If you buy one with Windows 7 you can install a TV tuner card and get OTA TV signals. This way you can also use it as a DVR. Plus Windows Media Center has Netflix.

    You can also install Zinc.tv which will give you access to Netflix, Hulu, ABC, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, etc.etc..

    1. You know, I was seriously debating to get something like an Acer Aspire Revo instead, but I decided that I’d prefer a fanless, low-power device without any spinning disks in the living room instead.

      1. @janko, you may be mistaken on fanless assumption with the box – it does have a fan or atleast anandtech doesnt thinks so –
        http://www.anandtech.com/show/3912/boxee-box-the-inside-story/2

  5. Thank you for your comments Steve. It does appear that Netflix will be supported; See this thread:
    http://tiny.cc/6l92g
    While the software version of Boxee supports Netflix Streaming, a Boxee spokesperson told HackingNetflix the following about Boxee Box Netflix Streaming support:

    “We’re working very closely with Intel and Netflix to make that the case. If not at launch then it should be available shortly thereafter. We hope to have a more concrete availability date next month.”

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  8. Great post. I’m a huge boxee fan and look forward to the appliance. For Netflix, we can just use a wii, ps3 or xbox360 to stream movies. You know you have at least one of those sitting right there ;)

  9. I went with the latest Mac Mini. I’m hoping the higher upfront cost will give me greater flexibility with running future apps like boxee and hulu. Besides I use iTunes for podcasts, streaming radio, iTunes share & shuffl’n.

    This market is still wide open and I’m not willing to place a bet on a vendor’s set-top box.

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