Boxee, Finally Living Up To Square Name?

The Boxee team, flush with cash and excellent exposure, is seeking feedback on the prospect of directly embedding their experience into a hardware platform. (Of course, you can hack an AppleTV today to run Boxee… If you’re willing to deal with an underpowered system, incapable of Netflix streaming.) The Boxee blog presents several survey items, including the types of features and hardware we’d like to see. Elaborating on my Twitter feedback yesterday, I’d only be interested in a Boxee box that also incorporated an OTA ATSC tuner with DVR capabilities. While most of us are tired of adding boxes to our sets, basic television viewing and recording coupled with the existing media playback and Internet streaming would appeal to me. However, Boxee faces challenges regardless of the path they take, as the field crowds. And there are a finite number of folks interested in running the existing software on a computer.

9 thoughts on “Boxee, Finally Living Up To Square Name?”

  1. This is a great opportunity for the “god box” we’ve all been waiting for – DVR capability, all types of media playback including disc, streaming, etc. I have a 300hr Tivo, DVD player and Popcornhour – combine those and we’re at a good start.

  2. Shame – they left off my most important choice – Satellite support. They mention Cable Card, but that would be another TiVo – a product that doesn’t work with DirecTV or Dish. For me, I _NEED_ an AppleTV that supports non M4V format video such as MKV High Profile etc. I’d love one that can also record programming off a satellite.

  3. Satellite support would be a bitch because the only way to access that HD content is via component outputs. Meaning they’d need IR control of satellite set-top boxes. That content is locked down, not directly accessible. If you want to record satellite without using their DVRs, you’re going to have to build your own thing – SageTV running Hauppauge’s HD PVR and controlling the sat STB. Although, a PC like that will also play your M4V and MKV stuff.

  4. I have a somewhat different take, that boxee might be better off keeping their focus on software. Having faced the challenge of marketing a media adapter type product, I know how difficult it can be to get people interested in what remains a very niche category. I think as computers get smaller and quieter, more people may in fact become more interested in having one connected to their TVs. With a decent remote, it’s a far better user experience than I’ve seen from any DMA, in my opinion.

  5. Bruce, you raise an excellent point. (D-Link/DivX, box for reference.) And I can totally relate as a guy involved with the SlingCatcher at one point. Manufacturing and selling hardware is not a trivial or risk-free proposition. Which is why some of the survey elements are interesting – with talks of perhaps integrating Boxee functionality into an existing game console. Sort of extend Boxee like a PlayOn – but with dual interfaces?

  6. I don’t know if a game console will ever see Boxee integration, but if I were Sony, I’d try to find some way to get Boxee on the box (doubtful that Microsoft would go for it).

  7. Ivan, I agree they probably couldn’t work a deal directly. But if they move to DLNA/uPnP like PlayOn, they could do something. But I remember in the old Dreamcast days loading up a web browser off disc. Wouldn’t it be cool if one of these consoles gave a disc access to the network and various playback codecs. But you’re right, it’d never be approved.

    And I should add that while I’ve questioned Boxee a bit the last few days I may not have done a good enough job conveying how much I dig what they’re doing in aggregating all these sources. I also like where they’re going visually – the Netflix UI is beautiful and I like how a relevant screenshot/background fills the screen when say browsing ABC Lost episodes.

  8. Boxee already has a set top box. It’s called Apple-TV. Instead of investing in a full blown PC/Mac I was able to order mine already pre-installed from ***.com in less than $300. Has all the right connectors and a remote. Took minutes to set up. I just wish they release the Netflix support for ATV already.

  9. If you’d read the post, you might have seen the AppleTV mention – and that the hardware is underpowered, incapable of handling Netflix via Boxee. I’ve spoken to their team about this on a few occasions. However, I suspect you’re just here pimping a web site.

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