Boxee Box Review, Updated and Netflix Ready - HotHardware

Boxee Box Review, Updated and Netflix Ready

20 thumbs up
Free flowing bandwidth; it's an enabler.  There was a time when no one had cable modems or DSL lines. Remember that?  Alright, fair enough, neither do we.  Regardless, having a 10Mb+ data connection to your domicile is a thing of beauty, because there's obviously so much you can do with it.  The question becomes not so much what the cable or telecom companies tell you, or sell to you, with respect to what you can do with it, but rather what a little imagination, and some optimized hardware and software can do with it.  And that's exactly the premise by which service platforms like Roku, Apple TV, Google TV and Boxee were born, though Boxee was a bit of a pioneer in the space with the introduction of their cross-platform software in early 2010.  Boxee touted their software as the first "Social Media Center," with the ability to rate content and share it with your friends across multiple portals like Facebook and Twitter.

Boxee developed a strong following as a result, because the very hooks they built into their software that allowed users to share their favorite shows, movies and other content, also broadcasted the Boxee brand along with it.  Boxee turned out to not only be truly innovative but it also came with built in viral marketing.  It setup the small start-up nicely for their next phase of productization and licensing.  Since then, a number of devices with Boxee under the hood have been announced, including ViewSonic's upcoming Boxee TV as well as IOMega's IOMega TV (with 2TB of on board storage so this might be one to watch for sure).  And of course the big boys turned their sights on the obvious Internet TV market opportunity with products like Apple TV and Google TV arriving recently as well.  That said, other than installing Boxee software on your computer, the only device currently available that can bring the full HD Boxee experience to your living room in a neat, tidy package is the Boxee Box by D-Link.

Though D-Link actually started shipping the Boxee Box back in November of last year, the company took their sweet time getting us a review unit and perhaps that's not such a bad thing. The word from our friends at Engadget ( in November '10) was that the Box has potential but wasn't quite polished enough yet.  Since that time, Boxee has released a number of firmware and platform updates that enhance the experience and bring new services, like full 1080p content from Vudu and what could be considered critical mass in mainstream movie rentals, Netflix. Clearly, the Boxee Box has had time to mature and now we're here to show you what it can do as of today.

Does the Boxee Box have what it takes to compete with the likes of Google and Apple TV?  We'll try to help you decipher the answers to that question and more in our full review and product showcase here.  First, let's take you on a quick demo of the device, then we'll break it down in easily digestible bits.

Boxee Box by DLink
Specifications & Features
  • Processor:  Intel Atom CE4100
  • Dimensions: (LxWxH): 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 4.6″
  • Language Support: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
  • Network Protocol Support: IPV4, ARP, TCP, UDP, ICMP, DHCP Client, DNS Client, DDNS Client, HTTP Server, Samba Client, RTP/RTMP, VPN: PPTP, DLNA 1.5 (DMP)
  • Wireless: 802.11n/g/b
  • Ports: HDMI 1.3, 10x100 Fast Ethernet, 2x USB 2.0, Optical Audio (S/PDIF), Analog Audio (RCA L/R)
  • Memory Card Support: SD, SDHC up to 32GB, MMC
  • Audio Formats: MP3, WAV/PCM/LPCM, WMA, AIF/AIFF, AC3/AAC, OGG, FLAC, Dolby Digital/Dolby True HD
  • Video Formats: Adobe Flash 10.1, FLV/On2 VP6 (FLV/FV4/M4V), H.264 AVC (TS/AVI/MKV/MOV/M2TS/MP4), VC-1 (TS/AVI/MKV/WMV), MPEG-1 (DAT/MPG/MPEG), MPEG-2 (MPG/MPEG/VOB/TS/TP/ISO/IFO), MPEG-4 (MP4/AVI/MOV), DivX 3x4x5x6 (AVI/MKV), Xvid (AVI/MKV), WMV9 (WMV/ASF/DVR-MS)
  • Image Formats: JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP, TIFF
  • Playlist Formats: M3U, PLS, WPL
  • Subtitle Formats: SRT, SUB, SSA, SMI, ASS
  • Supported Resolutions: H.264: 1080p at 30 fps, 1080i at 60 fps; WMV9/VC-1: 1080p at 30 fps, 1080i at 60 fps; MPEG4: 1080p at 30 fps, 1080i at 60 fps; MPEG2: 1080p at 30 fps, 1080i at 60 fps
  • Package Contents:
    • Boxee Box
    • HDMI Cable
    • AC Power Adapter
    • Remote Control with Full QWERTY keypad
    • Install Guide

    In terms of content and file format support, it might be easier to ask what the Boxee Box doesn't support for video and audio media types.  We honestly couldn't find any file it wouldn't play and threw quite a bit at the machine, right on down to AVCHD video files from our in-house HD video cameras (Canon VIXIA).  In short, the Boxee Box just works and plays it all pretty much.  Another notable for the Boxee Box is its ability to handle full 1080p HD video content, which is something Apple's Apple TV can't claim but Google TV can.

    The Boxee Box kit is straight forward.  Within the bundle, you get a single HDMI cable, AC adapter, a few manuals and warranty bits of paperwork and a multi-function remote with full QWERTY keyboard. The good news is, since the Boxee Box has two USB ports on the back side, you can also hook up a wireless keyboard and mouse, should you so choose, to make navigating the Boxee interface that much easier.  Though we'd offer that remote slinging couch potatoes will do just fine with simple, quick text entry on the Boxee Box remote.

    Article Index:

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    The Boxee box is a great concept, but the thing is incredibly buggy. Many users are hanging on every firmware release, hoping for a fix to their particular problem. Boxee-7777 on their Jira big report site is the one that has made Boxee box almost useless to me personally.

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    Apparently you guys didn't actually use Boxee Box before giving it an Editor's Choice award?

    -Library is constantly out of date and never updates itself

    -Thumbnails don't work 90% of the time

    -Half my videos don't play smoothly

    -Subtitles sorta kinda sometimes work

    -Rewind/forward buttons don't work in a lot of videos

    -Netflix is hilariously bad. Play/pause button doesn't work in it. Image quality is HORRIBLE. It's like I recorded my PS3 streaming Netflix onto a VHS tape and played it back.

    -The keyboard letters are dark grey on a black background.

    -Half the online content doesn't work

    -To watch online content you have to move a mouse cursor around with a cheap d-pad to manually click on the full screen button, which only sometimes works

    -Play/pause, forward/back buttons don't work in online content

    -Videos with multiple DTS tracks don't play

    -Library scraping is terrible -- descriptions are constantly wrong

    -Doesn't support low power standby

    -Online content doesn't support sorting (seriously, it's all in a random order)

    -Tons of judder in PAL video

    -There's like 20 different ways to turn subtitles on/off and some subtitles are only accessible through some of the menus

    -There is no consistency in the UI whatsoever

    The Boxee Box has a lot of features, but every single one is completely half assed. It feels like a college term project. Unfortunately I waited too long and can't return mine now, so it's going on Craigslist.

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    Sorry your experiences weren't good, guys but I did not experience these issues. I had an issue with Pandora needing to re-activate every time the system was reset but that was about the extent of bugs I saw. It wasn't perfect, as I noted in the article but I found it relatively smooth, especially after the last couple of updates. And yes, we tested it for about a month before even doing the demo in the video or writing this evaluation.

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    Hi, Dave.

    You had to experience some of these issues, if you used your Boxee Box much at all. For instance, the thumbnails are cropped for *everyone*. This happens in the "Files" section when you are browsing your own videos. It also does not recognize your .nfo files. Fast forward and rewind don't freeze up the box anymore, but that was just fixed in the latest firmware release. The DTS audio is screwed up (again, for everyone, not just a few of us). The mouse is difficult to move around on a browser page because you just to have the arrow keys to move it. The advertising is on the main page, despite MANY requests to make that screen customizable. This is all established and proven behavior.

    You can read all about the bugs on the Boxee Box forums and the Jira bug report web page. I promise I am not making them up. :)

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    I've experienced a lot of those things Joboj describes. I am waiting to see if one of the new streamers works correctly. All I really need is a good, reliable way to play files from my NAS. With the Boxee box stopping video playback every 2-5 minutes, I am getting extremely frustrated.

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    And I'll also add that Apple TV is pretty limited and Google TV pretty disjointed in spots, by comparison. I've spent time with lots of these types of devices and I've always been happiest with the Boxee interface.

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    I can do all of this on my Tivo Series 3...which isn't even the latest one.

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    I think you might be exaggerating just a little bit, unless you Tivo is an open platform that allows you to install apps from 3rd party repositories:

    I've only used the Boxee software on Linux (though I usually use XBMC). Boxee's not perfect, but it's decent enough that I would probably buy one of these if I walked by it in the store.

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    I don't know about this product. I put the software on my rig, but it is buggy as hell. I crashes often in the menu. Sometimes the videos don't work, but when it does work I love it.

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    Thank you this has been a good read and all of the comments will be helpful in me making my choice. I read and research a lot before I buy far it has my vote

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