Boxee No Longer Rages Against The Machine

Sigh. I sort of figured it’d come to this. With studios shutting down websites and services left and right, it’s obvious who’s calling the shots. So to survive and potentially reach the mainstream, it appears Boxee is going legit. And many of the cool things we’ve enjoyed in the Boxee Mac and PC experience will be going away. At least in regards to the now shipping D-Link Boxee Box ($200). CEO Avner Ronen spelled out some of the details at the launch event yesterday…

We’re gonna work really hard really soon to make Hulu Plus ($10/mo) available, and do it in a way that makes sense. No hacky stuff.

And regarding Boxee as an app platform:

Assuming it doesn’t download torrents or give you the wrong weather, we’ll post it.

Here’s what I had to say on this topic a few weeks ago:

Given the market, I’d say they should keep and exploit their geek cred by bypassing/ignoring the system. Of course, they’ll burn bridges by doing so and could make themselves targets of unpleasant threats or legal action. And, again, I wonder how their hardware partner(s) play into the equation. If Boxee goes legit, they’re just one box among many second and third input app providers (who happen to cost about twice as much as Apple TV, WDTV, and Roku).

12 thoughts on “Boxee No Longer Rages Against The Machine”

  1. Dave,

    I am actually quite upbeat about what Boxee seems to be doing. For online services, they had no option to go legit. However, for local media streaming options, they look like being as good (if not, better) as the WDTVs. Less said about Roku and Apple TV, the better. For 2x their cost, this device enables almost 4x the functionality, retaining most of the online content (admittedly towards the end of the year) and adding support for codecs which have hitherto remained the sole domain of HTPCs. Geeks (and media ‘downloaders’ around the world) have every right to be excited about this platform.

    These guys don’t need to enable torrents or any of the hacky stuff, because most of that should get done in a low power PC stashed away in the basement. Have all the media stored somewhere else and just stream it to the Boxee Box or any other media streamer.

    For users who want to have the real Blu-Ray experience, streamers like the upcoming NTV 550 from Netgear are a good choice.

    In my opinion, the Boxee Box strikes a good balance between online and local media playback, and, from specifications, looks like it manages to keep both sides happy. Need to actually use it before forming any further opinion :)

  2. Agreed with Ganesh here, there is just no way you can group Boxee Box with Roku/AppleTV when it comes to playing back local content. For anyone who doesn’t want to be stuck in the Apple ecosystem and wants the ability to play any file they have, I am sure the extra money is easily justified. Boxee is trying to bring the HTPC experience without needing an HTPC, something AppleTV and Roku aren’t even close to.

  3. I agree the local playback capabilities, via attached or network storage, appear to be at least on par with the WDTV boxes. In fact, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Boxee exceeds them (and with a much more beautiful UI). However, I think that’s a niche market. And as long as you’re still catering the geeks amongst us, let’s leave the browser/OS spoofing and Hulu playback (as demo-ed to me at CES on D-Link hardware) in place.

    The point of this post was not to pan Boxee, which I appreciate and support, but to emphasize a pretty dramatic shift in how they approach things. I very clearly understand the position they’re in and the decision they needed to make. And don’t forget, I’m the guy who has no problem with the $300 Google TV fee. But I’m atypical and don’t represent the broader market.

  4. I think if Boxee were one of non-US companies making media playback devices (like Popcorn Hour or countless others), they probably would be fine with hacky stuff. But they are a SOFTWARE company with investors which meant eventually they has to go legit.

    Having said that, it’ll be interesting to see what hackers can do, if anything, to find workarounds. Although, honestly, I don’t think Hulu is a huge deal for first adopters of BB – we know alternative ways of getting content ;)

  5. I’ve been using Boxee on my laptop since the early alpha’s. I think it’s really great and I will continue to use that solution for the time being. Having a dedicated Boxee box would make things easier. As of now I have to take my laptop and plug it into the dangling wires at my TV stand. Then I have to push Fn+F8 to cycle through the external display modes, and finally launch boxee and the boxee iphone app.

    A dedicated box and remote would bring this content to the wife. I wouldn’t have to set it all up for her.

    I think this is by far the best option out there for streaming media. It at least passes by Roku, Popcorn Hour, Apple TV and the WD and Seagate streamers. The UI is so fluid and user friendly, it’s easy to pick up even if you’ve never used it before. Perhaps someday I will get the dedicated box, but for now I’ll see how long I can hold out with the laptop solution.

  6. Oh and a lot of this content is streamed on demand. I have a 10mbps internet connection and it works great. I have DirecTV and their VOD has to “download” to the DVR’s hard drive. Yeah you can play it when part of the file is downloaded, but streaming is the way to go. Nothing like instant gratification.

  7. Cypherstream — FYI, even assuming Netflix HD will come to software Boxee, you are going to miss out on VUDU in HD. It’ll be limited to SD on software, unfortunately. VUDU has very good HD streaming and with your speeds you will get instant playback for the highest tier (HDX). It’s really nifty :)

  8. The fact that Boxee supported Free Hulu made it a standout from the pack. On my Mac, I found it a little frustrating that months ago the app for Hulu couldn’t be found but after some searching, I found I could still search for specific titles that I knew were on Hulu and could still expect them to play.

    If I understand this correctly, Boxee (at least with the Box) is no longer going to support access to Hulu (unless you go with the Plus, a very poor value at least for me)? Really? Then I have no reason to ever get a Boxee Box. I had been looking for a self-contained solution that could play Hulu Basic and find this, uh, change in support levels will send back to the drawing board. I will continue with PlayOn + PS3 for my free Hulu needs I guess.

    A used MacMini might do the trick, or a jailbroken AppleTV with a Hulu Basic app — these remain viable possibilities now that Boxee has gone “legit”. I am very disappointed; I had been looking forward to a Box that did Hulu Basic.

  9. After reading through some of the threads on Boxee Forums, I am not even going to unpack the Boxee Box that should arrive today — will wait a bit to see if they make changes before deciding whether to send it back. Pretty much everyone agrees that 1.0 is a downgrade from 0.9 and there are many issues.

    The biggest surprise though has to be the fact that VUDU isn’t working in 1.0 (unlike Netflix or Hulu, this was promised and even shown in demo videos) and that working with your own (local) files is a major pain.

    Very disappointed :(

  10. Well, that kills any interest from me. I’m not torrenting/ripping great quantities of DVDs or TV shows. I just want a decent streaming solution. I can already get Hulu Plus everywhere–on my iPad, my iPhone, my Samsung TV. But I’m non-Plussed. :-( I just want to play back regular Hulu when I need it once in a blue moon.

    Obviously the next great battle will now come with WiDi like solutions that allow you to stream the display from your laptop to the TV no matter what it is. Suspect there’ll be some kind of ‘video lockdown’ sandbox proposed or something that will allow them to block this too. Have to see how it plays out.

Comments are closed.