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After considering the various options out there...between Roku, Apple TV, Sony Netbox, Boxee Box, etc, I finally pulled the trigger and picked up a Boxee Box.


My decision was based on wanting to have a dedicated HTPC, but not wanting something that big, or complicated, or expensive.


I had used Boxee on a PC that I was using as a HTPC and it fit my needs pretty well. It aggregates free movie and tv content and presents it in a fairly useable format and does a good job of cataloging and displaying and playing content on my NAS.


The Boxee Box package was, first of all, smaller than I expected. Unpacking it I was struck by the design of the packaging which was quite nice and usual, following in the steps of the product's design itself. A page taken out of Apple's book, for sure.


The Boxee box is smaller than you think. It's about five inches on a side and very compact.


Setting it up was easy. Connect it to your receiver with the included (what a nice surprise) HDMI cable. Plug in the compact AC adapter. Press the power switch. It first updated the software, then asked me for a login. Logged in using my existing account. Done. Five minutes. The updated software is a different UI than the downloadable version at Boxee.tv. I have not looked around too much but it seems to be a bit streamlined to accomodate working with the special remote.


Surprising observation: it hums. You can just hear it from five feet away in a quiet room. It has a 60mm fan cooling the processor. If it were any louder I would find it full-blown annoying. I did notice that the unit goes to sleep pretty quickly when not in use and the fan spins down, thankfully.


The remote is novel and interesting, and it works well with the Boxee interface. A couple of gripes. It is small and does not fit in my hand very well...it's just a bit too small. The QWERTY keyboard on the back is useable but you won't be a typing speed demon on it..it fills most of the back so it is almost impossible to cradle the remote in the crook between your palms and fingers and type with your thumbs. It's completely black, and I have the sense it's going to get lost pretty quick.


Fortunately, Boxee has an iPhone app that does the same thing. Everyone in my family has an iPhone so I may just hide the remote so it does not get lost. Another nice aspect of both the remote and the iPhone app are that they work over wi-fi so no line of sight is required.


Picture and sound quality are VERY good. Plays 1080p material very well with what is at least 5.1. This is great for playing my network files, and clearly the box will be a capable Netflix player when they roll that out in the next month or so. Also allows me to browse and play my iTunes library off the NAS which is a big plus. I need to see if it can work with playlists though or it will be somewhat useless in this regard. I also have a SONOS box connected to the receiver so this is not so important.


I'm very happy with how the software aggregates and presents TV shows. It sorts them by popularity, in graphic tiles similar to other players, and it seems to do a great job of pulling in content from all over. Choose a given show, like Battlestar Galactica, and you can drill down to all the episodes sorted by season and episode number. Choose an episode and it displays the available sources. Choose the source and it will open it in Vimeo or depending on the format, in the web page itself with the ability to go full-screen. Moving the cursor on the arrow page with the custom remote is very workable.


All in all I'm pretty happy with the device. For $200 it packs a lot of capability into a small and pleasing form factor. You would be very hard pressed to build a comparable HTPC at this price point. After they add Netflix and HULU plus we'll see if I need anything else. I think for an extra $100 you get a huge amount more value over Apple TV...it's 1080p, 5.1, pulling in gazillions of free shows on the net, supports every AV format for local files, has custom apps that you can download as well.
 

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how is it at playing uncompressed high bitrate blu-ray rips over the network?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by k2lounge /forum/post/19515059


how is it at playing uncompressed high bitrate blu-ray rips over the network?

bugged right now it re buffers constantly every 10 seconds or so


i have not tried plugging in an external HDD yet but that may solve the problem, boxee is aware of this issue and has said that they will fix it as long as its not a hardware limitation and it doesn't appear to be because when it plays between the buffer its smooth.
 
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