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.
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