Last week, I got the opportunity to sit down with the guys from D-Link Australia for a preview of the new Boxee Box. I took the opportunity to hit them up with all your questions. Here are their responses, courtesy of Scott Howell from D-Link Australia:
UPDATE: The guys from D-Link have had some new info since we ased them these questions and have sent through a heap of updated responses. See them below:
Given the IPTV and Hulu features are US based, what is the benefit of the box over another basic streamer such as the Playstation 3 or Xbox in Australia? – Sicarius123
It’s mainly for your local content, with the scraping functionality so you’re getting all your cover art, synopsis information. And you can also share on your experience with that particular media file onto other users. From that perspective, it’s more a social way to view your media, whereas with your PS3 and Xbox, it’s more of a single experience for yourself.
Is it’s library for TV shows and Movies as good or comparable to XBMC? – James
Since Boxee is actually a fork of XBMC, so effectively it’s the same. The only thing is the scrapers are slightly different – with XBMC it’s a lot larger availability of scrapers you could say, there are more of the open source ones that are available, say the movie database and the TV database that are all open source and updated by the community – whereas Boxee’s actually paid for access to the API for the IMDB database, so it grabs it’s information from there. In the future, who knows what’s going to happen?
What content will be available in Australia? – the black texta
I can’t really comment on that at the moment, but we are in talks with some providers of content. That’ll be detailed closer to the launch of the product.
Why should we buy a Boxee, instead of waiting for the arrival of the Google TV next year? – Dee
Good question. I’m not too sure how the Google TV handles its media… It’s the same as before with the scraping of the online media and also the social media side of it as well.
UPDATE: What Boxee have tried to do is create an experience that has the elegance of Apple and the openness of Google. And while the Boxee Box is brand new, it has software inside that’s been available for over 2 years so it benefits from a more robust and well thought-out design than something that is just coming to market.
Will there be an OEM option for a USB IR extender? – Casey Waters
At the moment, no. We’re trying to focus on the RF side of it. It’s definitely a possibility, but I can’t say at this point of time it’s going to happen.
UPDATE: Third Party USB IR recievers are available for under $20 and will work with the Boxee Box as confirmed by Boxee team.
Double check that the iPhone app will work with it (it was suggested so at CES) – Casey Waters
Yeah, should be no issue. I’ve got Android on my phone and I have no issues with it.
Do you get an HDMI cable in the AU-specific release (like the US-specific release)? – Casey Waters
Yes you do. It’s worldwide, everyone’s getting HDMI cables.
I want tons of content with all of my movies and TV shows, such as covers, fan art, trailers, synopsis, etc.. Am I better off setting up a personal XBMC nettop PC or buying a Boxee? – Mitchell
Currently the Boxee Box is limited by its harddrive space. So fan art’s definitely a no at the moment; cover art definitely for videos and also for music. Also, the IMDB doesn’t actually do fan art, it’s only from community sources at the moment.
UPDATE: With the Boxee Box you’re going to get a great looking experience with easy access to information about what you’re watching. For the true geeks out there, having a full PC is always going to provide more options, but we think the Boxee Box is a great solution for most people to make the transition really easily from navigating files and folders into viewing your media in a beautiful library with cover art and info.
What’s with the price hike over the US price? Especially considering the strength of the AUD at the moment – Gabriel
Unfortunately it’s nothing to do with the price, it’s to do with our general channel here. We have to look after our reseller base, and they expect a certain margin in order to actually stock a product. In order for us to look after our customers and our reseller channel, we have to actually make sure there’s some money there for us. We’d love to do it for the same price as the US, but it’s very hard when everything’s controlled in the US and they do a completely different structure for their channel – they don’t really care about resellers, they just sell it direct.
Can Boxee access abc iview and play the iview content? – Ballinor
It can from a third party application, but officially not at the moment. But as the community grows and expands, I’m sure we’ll be looking at something like that in the future.
Can I surf the net using Boxee if I connect it to my modem or it this just for media playback? – Paul Gawthorne
At the moment, there is a browser built in, although it’s a very basic Mozilla browser that will only handle video streaming, so for sites you have no cursor control, that basically makes it very difficult for navigating more modern sites, and Silverlight and Flash sites in general are not really functional. So at the moment, no.
UPDATE New Webkit (not Mozilla) browser (available at launch) will be quite robust with full cursor support. Flash sites are functional although the browser is optimized for hardware accelerated flash 10.1, so you won’t be playing flash games just yet. SilverLight sites are currently not supported.
Can you put xbmc onto this? – Jarrod Wilson
Definitely a possibility, but it’s something that D-Link won’t be supporting. And also, your warranty will be void.
Can it see/read Samba shares? – Tortfeaser
Will it pull in metadata about my existing collection of video files? – Tortfeaser
If you’re referring to NFO files and things that store metadata in there, not currently. It’s something Boxee has had lots of requests for. Not too sure what progress is like on that, but at the moment it’s purely going to be looking at the file itself and scraping information from the file name.
Is the interface clunky, or can my 5 year old navigate around? – Tortfeaser
Currently, it’s very straightforward. My wife – who’s not very technical at all – can understand it.
Where is the artwork & info about your indexed movies from a networked or attached USB going to be stored? – Matejay
Stored locally on the 1GB of flash memory built in.
Is the built-in webkit browser capable of accessing websites with flash / silverlight videos like the Australian free to air networks? – Matejay
UPDATE: Flash sites are functional although the new Webkit browser is optimized for hardware accelerated flash 10.1, so you won’t be playing flash games just yet. SilverLight sites are currently not supported.
It’s Atom based now, why did they dump the Tegra 2? – Adam Currie
For HD performance in 1080p – It wasn’t stable. So we moved to the Intel T4100 in order to accommodate with the larger videos.
UPDATE We are actually using the Intel Atom CE4100. We made the switch from Tegra 2 so we could support high profile h264 videos.
How does it go playing 1080p high bit rate content? – Adam Currie
We haven’t tested any uncompressed 1080p files, but for online content, for 1080p videos coming down, there’s no problem with that.
UPDATE: Boxee have played back 90Mbps content easily.
I have a MythTV (Mythbuntu) backend, is there a script that gives me access to content, listing data etc? – Adam Currie
No. Thats mainly an XBMC feature at the moment, Boxee has no plans for that that I’m aware of.
Is there going to be any external usb support? Mame or emulator support? – Scooter
External USB – definitely. There’s two USB ports on the back that can be used for hard drives, whether it be sticks or other drives. Mame/emulator – no, not at the moment. I know they’ve started to do that on the PC versions, but nothing for the Boxee Box itself. That’s mainly due to the plugins that have to be manually installed into the plugin directory, and you don’t have access to that on this box.
Will it make me grow more hair on my chest? – stopthatcrazygoat
If there is a YouTube app will it support subscriptions? – Shafqat
You can log in with your account, so you should have access to subscriptions. The YouTube app is actually created by YouTube, so if it’s not there now it probably will be there in the future.
Are there any partnerships with ISPs to offer un-metered downloading of content? – Simon Reidy
Not currently, but we’re looking into that – there are a lot of requests for it.
I want to know why the box has such a useless, “trendy” form factor, that fits in with no other HT component device. – Greg
That was actually Boxee’s request to have something that didn’t look traditional. They wanted to have it look like it was actually sitting in the desktop itself. It was just a way for them to be unique and standout.
I’ve a collection of videos of different codecs version and variety. Would be there an issue and if so, would I be able to update the codec on the Boxee in the future? – Dylan
Codec support is pretty much the same as the XBMC project. so anything that can play on XBMC can play on Boxee. And if future codecs or anything that isn’t supported currently, with every new firmware, codec support can be aded. It’s just a matter of what the actual codec is that’s required, and if it’s a larger community that requires it, then it’s something that can be added.
How many total Boxee users are there and how many Boxee boxes do you plan to sell by Q4 2011? – JA
Over one million subscribed Boxee members at the moment. We’d love to sell a million units, but I think in Australia we’re looking at 50,000 or more members. If we could sell 10,000 units into Australia, we’d be doing well.