Boxee Box Comes To Life Through D-Link: Web Programming Invading Living Rooms Next Year

What a couple of years it has been for Boxee. Granted, 2008 and 2009 hasn't been the easiest years for startups to gain funding and solicit business, but somehow Boxee has struck a chord with consumers. It just so happened to surface at the right time in order to take the world by storm, and by and large it has yet to let go. It's a simple concept--a software portal that enables PC users to easily surf to their favorite Web-based content. Think of it as a DVR guide, but instead of working with hundreds of cable channels, it sifts through dozens of Internet channels. And considering that the vast majority of Web content is still free (though laden with advertising), it's no surprise that consumers have latched on.

We had heard rumors that the company was considering its own set-top box for awhile now, and those rumors began to really gain traction around this time last month. Today, we can finally put those questions to rest, as Boxee has come out and confirmed that a Boxee Box (of sorts) is not only a reality in the making, it's already on its way to production. In fact, the company has already locked arms with a huge player in the networking and consumer electronics space: D-Link.

Boxee Box - Click To Enlarge

At an event held in New York City, the firm simultaneously unveiled the Boxee Beta software (yes, it's just now hitting beta!) as well as its first-ever hardware partner. The idea is to use D-Link's hardware partners in order to create and release a "Boxee branded device for the living room." One of the main limitations with Boxee is that it requires a Mac or PC to run. In other words, you'll need a Mac or PC attached to your HDTV if you plan on using Boxee in your living room. We know HTPCs are out there, but they're far from being "everywhere." Without some sort of computer in your living room, Boxee simply couldn't live there. We know that some folks enjoy watching TV content on their PCs, but it's obviously far more viable and enjoyable when a PC is also connected to the HDTV.

Click To Enlarge

Rather than waiting for the HTPC revolution to re-ignite, Boxee decided to change the game up on its own. A Boxee hardware solution would remove that hurdle. Just as Vudu's set-top box enabled users to browse and rent HD movies in their living rooms without a PC, and Roku's range of boxes enables users to watch their Netflix queue on their TV sans a PC, this box will enable users to watch a wide range of Web content on their primary television without connecting a PC. When you consider that even the most basic living room PC would cost a few hundred dollars, you'll see the value in having a dedicated Boxee box that'll likely cost far less than that. In essence, it'll be a box that could replace the cable bill for many; if consumers can bring a world of Internet TV to their living room via a single sub-$200 set-top box, many may feel that keeping cable around too just isn't justifyable.

Boxee Box Rear - Click To Enlarge

In addition to providing a slick UI to navigate through the world of online material, the box will also enable users to view movies, organize and view their own home movies/photos and even play music from Web sites such as Pandora. As for ports, you'll find two USB sockets, HDMI, S/PDIF, RCA audio, a wired Ethernet jack and 802.11n Wi-Fi in order to connect wirelessly. That last inclusion is vital; many users won't have Ethernet ran to their den, but with Wi-Fi, there's no need. The Boxee Box will supposedly be available through D-Link's network of retailers in the first half of 2010, but an exact price has yet to be set.


Boxee Beta Application Screenshots - Click Any To Enlarge

We can't help but close this out by questioning the design. We understand what Boxee was going for: edgy and fresh. Believe it or not, it succeeded on both points. The problem is that, much like the Xbox 360 and original PlayStation 3, this thing isn't designed to integrate well with other A/V components. You'll need a dedicated space in your rack/under your TV in order to fit this oddball, but you can rest assured that friends will ask about its purpose when they see such a strange device camping out in your living room. Heck, maybe that's the point, but it's still apt to shock the traditionalists out there. We said it in November, and we'll say it now: cable best watch out, or the Internet might just take its place like a thief in the night.

D-Link/Boxee Partnership Statement
In front of a packed house at their Boxee Beta Unveiling event in Brooklyn
this evening, Boxee revealed that D-Link has been named first choice as the
hardware partner to release a Boxee branded device for the living room.

Boxee is the best way to enjoy content from the Internet or a computer on a
TV screen. With the Boxee BoxT by D-LinkR, the two companies have created
the easiest way to bring this experience into the living room, allowing
people to watch tens of thousands of movies & TV Shows, organize and play
their favorite home movies and photos, and play great music from their home
network or from Internet sources like Pandora.

"By pairing Boxee's innovative social entertainment platform with D-Link's
technology we're able to create a solution that introduces people to what TV
should be.  Additionally we're bringing a new level of social interaction to
the living room," said Daniel Kelley, senior director of marketing, D-Link
Systems, Inc. "We can't wait to bring this product to market and are looking
forward to demonstrate the Boxee Box by D-Link at the upcoming Consumer
Electronics Show in January."

"We are happy to be working with D-Link as a hardware partner because we
share the same vision for creating solutions to help anyone get the most out
of technology," said Andrew Kippen, vice president of marketing for Boxee.
"D-Link has great reach and together we are able to offer consumers an
attractive inexpensive solution to bring the Boxee experience directly onto
the TV."

The Boxee Box by D-Link, which has already won a Best of Innovations award
from the Computer Electronics Association, reinterprets what TV should be,
delivering all the movies, TV shows, music and photos from a user's
computer, home network and Internet to their HDTV with no PC needed.
Additionally, Boxee's core social features make it easy for friends to
discover new content from each other through social networks like Facebook,
Twitter and more.

In addition to its many software features, The Boxee Box by D-Link makes it
easy for consumers to connect the device via HDMI, SPDIF, RCA Audio.  The
box has 2 USB for expansion and can quickly connect to a home network using
both Wi-Fi (802.11n) and wired ethernet.

The Boxee Box will be available through D-Link's network of etail and retail
outlets in the first half of 2010.  The manufacturer's suggested retail
price is still undetermined.