Boxee Box Review, Updated and Netflix Ready - HotHardware

Boxee Box Review, Updated and Netflix Ready

20 thumbs up
The Boxee Box itself is an example of what simple, functional elegance should look like, though at first glance it's an odd shaped device perhaps, depending on your taste in styling cues.  It's not as diminutive as Apple's Apple TV but the Box also has a lot more going on in terms of overall features and functionality.  With Apple TV you get just the basic connections to hook the device up to your TV or receiver.  In typical Apple fashion, the device is otherwise closed off to the outside world, with the exception of its Ethernet connection.  With the Boxee Box, you also get a pair of USB 2.0 ports and a Flash card reader slot for better expandability and access to your media.

Since the Boxee Box, much like its media streamer competitors, has no internal storage, USB connectivity can come in really handy, though you can't actually download and save content locally with the device.  In the future, we'd like to see Boxee include a time-shifting/DVR app; though without the ability to stream live TV currently, you don't really need a DVR app obviously.  These are wishlist features but we dare to dream around these parts.  Beyond that, there are other excellent uses for a pair of USB ports, like being able to attach a wireless keyboard and mouse. In fact we tried it and it worked like a charm.

We should note however that the Boxee Box remote actually works quite well, considering its size, though we might have opted for something a little larger with slightly more spacious keys and maybe some sort of more elaborate tracking surface for cursor control.  About the only shortcoming with the remote is mousing around in a browser window with the track button on the front side; it's not exactly nimble.

Intel's Atom CE4100 at 1.2GHz - At the time, NVIDIA's Tegra 2 was a day late and a dollar short.

So the big buzz with respect to the Boxee Box's delay getting to market centered around reports that Boxee was having issues with NVIDIA's Tegra 2 processor, which was their initial platform design target for the system. As such, the company shifted gears and dropped in the Intel Atom-based CE4100 media processor, which is the same platform that Google TV runs on.  Under the hood here you can see just how small the tiny SoC (System on a Chip) is.  We didn't take time to tear things down beyond this but underneath the metal shielding here is a very small motherboard, with a few RAM chips, some peripheral modules and chips for Ethernet, USB and WiFi and not much else frankly.

The Boxee Box next to Apple TV.  It's bigger, but offers much more.

Considering the Boxee Box in total, this is one system that bring essentially what the sum of its parts has to offer.  Fortunately, Intel's CE4100 family of Atom-based media processors really delivers quite well.  Not only do you get full 1080p HD media support, along with support for just about any file format you can throw at it (save for HDCP protected content currently) but you can also tap content into the device from a number of external sources both directly and over the network.  Unless you're heavily invested in Apple products (and let's face it, more than a few out there are), the Boxee Box offers a more powerful and capable solution for HD media streaming.

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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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