mar 25

Boxee, Not Boxxy

Somebody's gotta say it... I don't get Boxee. It's all interface... it's not content... it's not making a better experience, it's making a worse one... it's the new Joost... it's the old Miro... I have no idea why nerds are rallying around it. Someone please explain.


I know, right? For that matter, I don't get AppleTV et al neither.

You take your video out, stick in into your TV, and you're done. Or be like me and ditch your TV altogether for a big monitor and computer with a TV tuner.

posted by alesh at 11:18 AM on March 25, 2009

And let me tell you, it does not play well with Ubuntu which scores a -10 points on the nerd score card.

posted by Andrew Simone at 11:48 AM on March 25, 2009

The real reason is because it's an open source common ground between all the different content providers out there.

It's more the new web browser, and less the new joost. Its aim is to point to available content, rather than strike up deals. And, since it's done in a better interface than Miro and works better with Hulu, that means some nerds can throw away their cable box.

The point isn't where its at now, the point is the future. Briefly, last year, you and I talked about this idea of needing a "player" so we wouldn't be doing quicktime vs real in a few years (like we are with Flash vs Move Networks.) With Boxee, we're getting there. Middleware providers won't have to fight to get their content compatible with their player, instead they'll release something that's compatible with Boxee (and XBMC, and a host of other apps) and Voila, standards based delivery of video content over the internet to a TV.

It is really exciting.

Maybe I should actually write this up as an article on TechVi, so people will get what all the fuss is about. I interviewed Avner Ronen, Boxee's CEO, and he talked about the fact that he wants Boxee to be able to be installed anywhere, and that they're not trying to make money from licensing deals, instead they'll make money by pointing people to the content. He called it an "honest model," and I agree.

posted by Randall Bennett at 11:58 AM on March 25, 2009

I have my Mac Mini connected to my TV, and use Boxee all the time. It's a fairly simple way to get at content (local and on the web) with just the Apple Remote.

posted by Moe at 11:58 AM on March 25, 2009

For a laptop or desktop with a monitor 1-3 feet from your face, it's stupid. For anything hooked up to your TV, it actually really works, where the web browser doesn't.

It is about interface, but interface is about access to content. Front Row / Apple TV only lets you play your iTunes/Quicktime friendly content. No Netflix/Hulu video, no weird-codec AVIs. Boxee lets you get to those. It effectively minimizes the distinction between content on your HD and content you stream through a service. And in many cases, just like the iPhone clients are better than regular web sites, the Boxee client/interface is a better browsing experience than the default web browser.

The real question might be, why Boxee and why not Plex or XBMC or any of the other forks out there. But open-source, max playability is only part of the story -- the real idea is that for browsing many types of media, we need visual databases, not HTML pages or big iTunes/VLC lists. That's what these media player apps deliver.

posted by Tim at 12:27 PM on March 25, 2009

We have Plex set up in our home, running off a Mac Mini, controlled by a Harmony Remote, and it's far better than Boxee. The interface is much easier, it has plug-ins for Hulu, YouTube, etc., and it offers better sound and video playback. Everyone we've showed it to immediately wants our setup.

posted by APR at 12:44 PM on March 25, 2009

Probably because it'll install on an AppleTV and has press from it, end of story. There's a good-sized segment of people that don't want a full computer hooked up to their TV permanently, and they also don't want to unhook/rehook one every time they want to watch something.

posted by mh at 2:09 PM on March 25, 2009

To put it in media terms, Boxee turns a 2 foot experience into a 10 foot experience.

Nerds are rallying around it because it's a good, useful product.

posted by InfoMofo at 2:25 PM on March 25, 2009

Agree with APR. I gave Boxee a shot, but Plex wins, hands-down. Boxee's new plugin system sounds like a clone of the one Plex released a month ago. The only reason Boxee is more popular is because it runs on one platform that Plex doesn't: Apple TV.

Buy a used mac mini on Craigslist and run Plex instead.

posted by fletch at 3:37 PM on March 25, 2009

I think you only get it if you've got your television directly connected to a computer or AppleTV (as a few other commenters have mentioned). In that case it makes (or, made, sadly) it really easy to get Internet video from places like Hulu or BitTorrent onto your big-ass Tell-o-Vision with the sound going out to your Surrounding Speakers.

posted by mat honan at 4:11 PM on March 25, 2009

@fletch: Plex is really slick, but they still don't have a netflix now client, so right now I'd give boxee the edge.

posted by InfoMofo at 4:51 PM on March 25, 2009

Srsly, she's just some spastic teenager with a lot of eyeliner. Why does stuff like this get popular?

posted by Eric at 8:24 PM on March 25, 2009

@InfoMofo coming soon!

posted by fletch at 8:38 PM on March 26, 2009

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