History Of Boxee: Keeping It Simple With Hardware

The Boxee software does a grand job of organising digital media and helping you view it and share it with others, and you can install it on plenty of hardware platforms. But what if you don't want to install it at all?

Among the many posts about Boxee over at our sibling site Lifehacker, there's one which details how to build your own Boxee media centre based on a cheap PC. If you're a serious geek, there's nothing in that set of instructions that will faze you, and in fact most of the fiddly elements come from configuring Linux to work with various playback elements, rather than from installing Boxee itself.

Nonetheless, you don't have to be a serious geek to have a large collection of media on your hard drive, and a desire to watch Internet content on your snazzy new TV. That doesn't mean you want to spend your time configuring Ubuntu software repositories, in all probability.

Part of the Boxee vision was always that the code would be licensed to hardware manufacturers, who could use it to build dedicated media appliances such as set-top boxes. Doing that would offer a much easier setup experience for the average user, who could just power up the device to organise and access rather than spending time configuring minor details. The Boxee software offers much greater flexibility for media viewing in terms of file types than most existing commercial media centre devices, which often either run Windows Media Center or their own restricted environments.

In theory, a manufacturer could include Boxee on a Windows-based machine, but in practice doing so on a Linux-based offers better performance and a much cheaper (as in free) software licensing cost. And that's the route taken with the Boxee Box, developed by Boxee in conjunction with D-Link.

Gizmodo has been tracking the development of the Boxee Box closely ever since it was first announced back in December 2009, and now it's less than a month away from shipping. While there have been some changes (the original plan to use NVIDIA Tegra 2 chips was ditched in favour of Intel's atom, for instance), the basic vision of a lounge room device for easily accessing the Boxee experience hasn't changed. We'll look at where that vision might take us next in tomorrow's final instalment.

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    Can you say advertorial?

    sorry gus, it's faze, not phase.

    "in practice doing so on a Linux-based offers better performance and a much cheaper (as in free) software licensing cost. "

    In practice it means it won't be supporting partners like Netflix out of the box (due to lack of suitable silverlight implementation on linux)

    D-Link - let this be a lesson in how you can turn potential customers off with advertising that really misses the demographic you are flogging it to - the readers of this blog are not the same pedigree of muppets who fall for the chick on TV trying to make you believe the information is somehow legit and generated by an independant source.
    I was half interested in a Boxee Box until you guys started this ridiculous over-advertorial BS. Now I will be going out of my way to buy anything else but a Boxee.

      Look at the Popcorn Hour instead, not as pretty to look at as Boxee, but very functional.

    So... Can we hear something about the actual hardware then?

    One thing that has really turned me off the idea of boxee, and it might be small, but it does have large repercussions - Is the apparent lack of a Gigabit network port.

    Like I imagine many people in this day and age do, I have a lot of "HD" content,often 720p, some 1080p rips, which a 100Mb network isn't going to be able to stream safely, neither could you rely on a Wireless N network (which I don't have anyway). Which is confusing, because this box isn't yet available (almost I realise), yet people have large media collections that it isn't going to be able to play.

    Why is that? What are the plans for Boxee v2?

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