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The Boxee Box is plugged into the TV with an HDMI cable and users can connect to it wirelessy or via Ethernet to watch Web content. InformationWeek reports that the "Boxee Box supports video streaming in 1080p at 60 frames per second, integrates Wi-Fi 802.11n, and has compatibility with several codecs. It is powered by the Intel Atom processor CE4100, which is designed for TV and Internet integration and has an open source software platform"
Providers that have partnered with Boxee include VUDU, MUBI, IndieMoviesOnline, OpenFilm, EZTakes, and Ooyala. Two important ones are, obviously, missing: Netflix and Hulu. Netflix should be available before the end of the year, Hulu and Boxee are working on bringing Hulu Plus to the Box. InformationWeek on the Boxee - Hulu matter:
Price and available content
Boxee and Hulu have had an up and down relationship since Hulu blocked the software in February 2009 due to pressure from its content partners. Even after Boxee integrated an RSS reader to its site to provide access to Hulu.com content, Hulu blocked it again. In early 2010 Hulu launched its Hulu Plus service, which has been expanded to Sony Bravia HDTVs and is expected to soon come to Roku and the Sony Playstation 3.
The Box comes at $199.99 that makes it competitive with Google TV from Logitech. Compared to Apple TV and Roku, it's $100 more expensive but will give the users the freedom to watch what they want.
With Boxee Box, users can watch nearly 40,000 TV episodes, free, and premium movies; access music and pictures from a computer; and follow friends on Facebook and Twitter to see what they are watching. Users can search the Boxee TV, movie, and app libraries, as well as the web from a browser, and the device also supports HTML 5-based apps.
The first impression by PCMag on the Boxee Box:
Robust file support. Well-designed user interface. Quality search tool scans attached hard drives, Internet for content you seek. Streams content wirelessly from PCs on same network. Solid digital connectivity, along with analog outputs for audio.
Many key features—Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu—aren't fully available at launch. Remote is awkwardly designed. Set-up requires multiple firmware updates, installations, reboots.
With regard to the remote control, which is an essential part of the new TV experience, the unique part is that both sides are being used. PCMag describes that one side is a QWERTY keyboard with numbers, symbols, and arrow navigation, the other side contains Play/Pause button, four directional navigation buttons with Enter in the middle, and a Settings/Menu button that doubles as the Power control when held down long enough.
On the initial usage the site reports:
The keyboard's rubber keys feel great, and typing on it is, initially, a breeze…until you realize the remote's fatal flaw. The playback and navigation buttons on the flip side of the remote are situated almost exactly where you rest your fingers when typing with your thumbs. Inevitably, you occasionally press one of the buttons when you're trying to type on the QWERTY pad—this occurred several times during testing.
We witnessed Boxee reps, who've logged far more hours with the box, have the same problem. Eventually, you learn to hold the remote with the tips of your fingers along the edges, but it's awkward.
Pushing the boundaries
Will Boxee Box be able to compete in this fierce and more-fragmenting industry? Will it get a critical mass of users that will further push the offer of quality providers and apps?
It certainly has it's uniquenesses which will get the attention of a group of consumers, it will be interesting to see if Boxee's proposition is what people are looking for and how users of multiple devices will compare it to others.
Furthering fragmentation of devices and attention will push the limits for all companies in this market, wanting to have the most appealing distribution of content, remote and device in order to be the Connected TV device.