Ian Hoar – Passion for Technology – Geeking Out - Technology, Web, Toys, Games, Design, Entertainment, Gadgets, & Geeking Out

Boxee Box, my new favourite toy

Boxee BoxI’ve had a Boxee Box for several months now, and since I haven’t done a review in ages, I feel it’s time to sing its praises. This great little device is a Home theater PC (HTPC) or also called a Media Centre. Before I bought the device I did a crazy amount of research and I just couldn’t find the right solution for me. My criteria was simple, I wanted something affordable, I didn’t want to build my own HTPC, and I didn’t want to be locked down. The Boxee fit the bill on all of these, but when it was first released it was lacking many features and early reviews said it quite buggy. Fast forward almost a year and the Boxee team refocuses their efforts entirely on set-top boxes and mobile devices bringing in much more favourable reviews. I can say that I’m glad I waited, and the Boxee Box is definitely now ready for prime time.

Probably the first thing that comes to people’s mind when they think of a device like this is the Apple TV. It’s actually cheaper than the boxee box, smaller, and of course it’s an Apple product. Those would normally be pretty compelling reasons for me to purchase one, but remember one of my criteria was a box that was not locked down, and that is a major point the Apple TV does not meet. Yes it can be jailbroken, but that’s not something I’m interested in nor do I have the time. I also wanted my significant other to use the device with ease and without worry.

Why the Boxee Box rocks

It does everything I could possibly want it to do, right out of the box. Is it as polished as an apple product? Yes and no, the actual box is top notch, the software is a bit sticky at times, but it really does do almost everything. Boxee delivers a very polished experience when it can, but remember, it lets you get content from virtually anywhere, which can mean a less than ideal experience at times. This is not a limitation of the Boxee software, but a limitation of the providers you connect too and a strength for Boxee.

If you want to watch the history channel, you can, is it as polished as the Ted Talks or Netflix apps? No it’s not, you have to navigate around a website, click a full screen button and occasionally have your video time out when paused too long, but the point is, you can watch the History Channel! or any other channel on the web and Boxee isn’t going to stop you. That’s the reason I love this device, I can do whatever I want with it and believe me, there is no shortages of super polished apps either. The Apple TV gives a flawless experience by locking you down and sacrificing where you can get content from and what you can and cannot do.

Boxee Box Interface

The remote

This device comes with a slim controller with a full qwerty keyboard on the back. It’s similar to the Apple TV remote with the exception of the keyboard. Typing out your searches with an on screen keyboard and arrow buttons is not fun, you can type much faster with the built in mini keyboard.

Boxee Box Remote

What can’t it do?

The Boxee Box also plays every format you could imagine, even MKV which many media boxes do not support. It also can stream content from a desktop computer, including your itunes library. It also takes media from USB sticks or SD Cards and plays them liquid smooth.

Did I mention channels and apps? It’s loaded with web channels that come in the form of apps, way to many to mention, and if a channel is not there you can simply load up the web browser app and navigate to the videos you want to see. You will find everything from indie channels, radio channels, popular websites to the big pay channels like Netflix and Vudu. The Boxee also comes with parental controls enabled, but like everything Boxee, it’s your choice to enable or disable it.

The Boxee Box will be the most original looking media device in your cabinet

I have to admit, the look of the Boxee Box also attracted me, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it’s extremely original. It looks like a melting box next to my TV and the logo glows green. A five start product in my opinion and one of my most used tech gadgets. I also canceled my ridiculously priced cable services ages ago, so the Boxee Box has brought back all the channels I’ve missed.

2 Comments to “Boxee Box, my new favourite toy”

  • Vic

    Bought my Boxee half a year ago after long time frustrated with WD Live and LG Smart TV and all I can say is that Boxee is one of the best devices I have had.

    The LG one is not extremely bad but for the Western Digital I have had more expectations but it was the most awful experience of my entire (geek) life.

    Some problems with both: not playing any movie or popular media formats (WD is bragging that is playing everything!), not loading the subtitle, long time to start, not displaying all pictures (LG), etc, etc.

    Ian, have you noticed any problem with playing music on Boxee lately? I used to be able to play any music file (mp3, flac, wav, etc) but in the last weeks I cannot play any.

    Cheers mate.

    • Ian Hoar

      Hey Vic,

      I don’t use it to play much music. Sometimes I stream from iTunes or use it to play radio stations, but most of the time we use it for Netflix along with unblock-us for US content. Still very pleased with it. The only problem I have with it right now is that it won’t shut down, I have to power it off. This happened with the last update, it still works fine though.