* Prices may differ from that shown
I purchased this a few months ago then ripped my entire DVD collection onto a Nasbox. The boxee box connects to my TV through a HDMI cable. After connecting and signing into Boxee using ethernet or Wi-Fi you can download a update from the setting screen, didn't seem to do it automatically. This would have been a nice feature?
Then simply add "sources" of media which can be Nasbox's (like my setup) or any computer on your network. Boxee then quickly scans and tries to identify the files, Boxee links any videos, dvd's, TV Show's, etc with imdb.com so with no effort at all the cover art, a short blurb and other information is linked with your file.
Boxee will also search online for media streaming services such as 4od, Iplayer. Apps are available know the Iplayer app seemed a bit flakey to me but my TV LG TV (see other review) has a better built in Iplayer app.
A great product to bring all your media together. No more changing DVD's for me!
The D-Link Boxee Box is a tiny gadget which allows anyone to enjoy media content on their big screens. Before starting this review, I should mention that the Boxee retails at £180 - this is a pretty hefty price considering:
(a) The American version sells for the same price in USD
(b) You can create an exact replica of the Boxee user interface on your TV by downloading the software to your laptop and hooking it up directly to your TV.
However, if you don't have the laptop to spare, or if you hate faffing around with continual plugging and unplugging, and if you have the £180 to spare (don't forget you'll need some extra to invest in a hard drive to connect to the Boxee), then read on.
The Boxee Box is a tiny (yes I mean tiny - 11cm x 11cm x 11cm at most) device which looks fantastic beside a TV. It is basically a cube with one edge shaved off, meaning it sits on the table at an angle. There is no internal storage (a big minus when you consider that the Western Digital TV Live Hub is £20 cheaper and includes 1TB of storage - check out my WD TV Live Hub review for more details).
Connectivity is good, though not quite as comprehensive as the TV Live Hub. There is HDMI and composite video support, but no component cable support. Video output is in full 1080p. Where the Boxee bests the TV Live Hub is in the video quality. Even using smaller files, video is rendered crisply on screen and I have never gotten the impression that the image has been 'stretched'. In contrast, the image is grainy and fuzzy on the TV Live Hub. The Boxee has played every video file in my library so far without problem, and is compatible with just about every video format under the sun.
Online content is excellent. In the UK, Boxee has partnerships with BBC iPlayer, Channel 4, some other terrestrial channels as well as some excellent free movie services. There are also numerous apps which can be downloaded from the app store. For example, the FailBlog app allows one to browse videos posted on FailBlog and watch them in the browser provided. There are apps for Youtube, Cinetrailer etc - well worth exploring.
The Boxee remote is ingenious. On the front, it sports a minimalist yet intuitive design. A play/pause button is located at the top. In the middle, there is a click box similar to those found on iPods - 4 directional buttons for navigation, with a 'select' button in the centre. The bottom button is basically a 'back' button. Navigation is a breeze and very easy to pick up. On the back, there is a full qwerty keyboard, which is responsive and an excellent alternative to the pesky on-screen keyboard of the TV Live Hub. The remote does not require line-of-sight. Indeed, it is so good that the range is longer than that for my TV remote!
In contrast to the TV Live Hub, the user interface is beautiful. When Boxee was first released, there were numerous software bugs which lead to lukewarm reviews all-round. However, the dedicated Boxee team has released regular firmware updates which have now ironed out most of the bugs - a number of reviewers have revised their initial ratings in light of this. Finding what you want in Boxee is simple - there is a vertical alphabet list (similar to the one found on iDevices). Use the remote to click the letter you want, then select the file. Simple. The beauty of Boxee is that it will automatically index all your media files with information from IMDB. It can distinguish between TV shows and movies (don't ask me how), and generally makes choosing movies less of a chore.
Like the TV Live Hub, it currently does not work with 3TB hard drives. Boxee staff have assured users that they are working on the problem, but since a solution relies on a kernel update from Intel, I believe that this is not possible in the near future.
Boxee has integrated WIFI and also supports an ethernet connection. This is a big advantage over the ethernet-only TV Live Hub. The connection is great and streaming content from home PCs / the Internet is smooth and enjoyable.
In conclusion, Boxee is a luxury device which I would highly recommend if you can justify spending £180 (+ extra for a hard drive) on something which you can basically get for free by hooking your laptop up to your TV.