I enjoy my media center and large high definition TV. Since it is connected to the Internet, I have spent hours combing the web, exploring numerous sites offering movies, videos, TV shows, and other media products. I really got hooked on Internet connected media when I discovered that I could watch all 5 seasons of Lost from beginning to end thanks to Hulu.
My explorations have forced me to learn about and/or install several different media players. You see, there is no standard for this type of Internet-based content. It’s another Wild, Wild, West Internet adventure. Microsoft’s media center is OK for some things, but without significant customization is can’t play several types of media files. Nor, can it easily play content from sites like Hulu and ABC. The story goes on like this for nearly ever product that I tested. They do some things well, but there focus is narrow and self-serving.
This all changed when I learned about and installed Boxee. Boxee describes itself as:
“Boxee is the first "social" media center, whose free, open source, downloadable software is changing the way consumers experience media.
On a computer or connected to an HDTV, Boxee gives people a truly connected digital entertainment experience to enjoy movies, TV shows, music and photos, as well as streaming content from websites like Netflix, MLB.TV, Comedy Central, Pandora, Last.fm, and flickr. Not only that, but you can share information about what you’re watching with friends so they can find it legally and enjoy it too. You can even post things you like to social networks like Twitter, Last.FM, or Tumblr. All this from within a visually driven interface that makes media come to life.”
According to its website, the idea for Boxee was born when founding friends Avner, Gidon, Idan, Tom, and Roee, came up with the idea for boxee in 2004 when they began using Xbox Media Center, open source software for the original Xbox that allowed people to play digital media on their TVs. They became members of XBMC’s open source community and in 2007 imagined a way to take the platform even further. Since 2007, Mr. Ronen and a team of 11 others have worked to extend the base code for XBMC with online sources like hulu and Netflix as well as social networking in Boxee.
Today, Boxee is available for Windows, OS X, Linux, and Apple TV. In the near future, Boxee will be available on its own dedicated setup top box via a partnership with D-Link and others will follow.
Here is why I like Boxee:
- It supports all of the platforms that I use including Windows, Apple and Linux.
- It plays nearly every media file type that ask it to. I now longer have to comb the Internet looking for codecs, players, and converter.
- It provides a consistent interface to media content from a number of sources. It's open and not married to it’s own content. I think of it as a media aggregator.
- It has the best user interface and user experience, bar none, of any media player available. Setup is simple. Basically, you can install it and go. There are some simple options that can be used to customize Boxee. But they are easy to navigate and understand.
- It works with a number of media controllers without the need to train, installing additional software and the like. I use it with a Logitech Harmony One remote control and a wireless keyboard. Neither control required any special setup.
- Boxee has a great remote control app for the iPhone. I installed it and it worked on the first try.
- I can use Boxee to find a wide variety of different media content from a large number of source on the Internet. This is done through its search capabilities and connections to popular social media sites.
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