July 13, 2010

Boxee Beta — A New Face to Home Theater

For those of you who keep up with the home the­ater world “Box­ee” is most like­ly a con­cept that you have heard about before.  Box­ee is a for­mal media cen­ter appli­ca­tion that was built based on the xbmc open-source project.  Box­ee is a soft­ware front end that dis­plays media from your com­put­er and oth­er net­work con­nect­ed devices.  Box­ee also has the abil­i­ty to con­nect to var­i­ous inter­net sources, and stream media direct­ly from the net.
Around 6 months ago Box­ee final­ly moved into the Beta phase and has a down­load that is avail­able for major Oper­at­ing Sys­tems (Win­dows, Lin­ux and Apple).  Cre­ate a new account on boxee.tv and reap the many fea­tures that Box­ee has to offer.
User Inter­face:  8 out of 10
The user inter­face on Box­ee beta is unbeat­able.  It is clear and con­cise with­out too much eye can­dy.  The top of the UI focus­es on media and media libraries, where the bot­tom focus­es on social net­works and feeds.  The UI is extreme­ly easy to nav­i­gate and even eas­i­er to get around using any MCE remote.  The rea­son I gave Boxee’s UI an eight out of ten was due to the inabil­i­ty to cus­tomize most of the skin and col­or scheme.  I def­i­nite­ly love the way it looks as it is, but oth­ers might enjoy a dif­fer­ent feel.

Media Set­up:  6 out of 10
Point­ing Box­ee to your stored media is a fair­ly sim­ple task in itself.  The prob­lem lies in Boxee’s abil­i­ty to match your media to its data­base.  Box­ee uses IMDB and oth­er resources to match your media with the cov­ers, cor­rect titles, and sum­ma­ry.  If your media is named in the prop­er nam­ing con­ven­tion, Box­ee has lit­tle to no prob­lems iden­ti­fy­ing all your media and cat­e­go­riz­ing it cor­rect­ly.  Per­son­al­ly I am a stick­ler for nam­ing con­ven­tions and can’t stand a messy library so Boxee’s media set­up was a breeze.
More Info:  The prop­er nam­ing con­ven­tion for Box­ee is:
TV:  ShowTitle.S##E##.extension — where ## is sea­son num­ber and episode num­ber
Movies:   MovieTitle_(year).extension

Movies and TV:                  10 out of 10
Box­ee has a won­der­ful UI in the way of tv and movies go.  It lists all the episodes from each of your tv shows and marks the ones that you have watched and leaves the ones yet to be watched high­light­ed.  This is a very handy fea­ture for peo­ple like me who get attached to too many shows at the same time and for­get what episode they are cur­rent­ly on.  Sub­ti­tles are but a click away and every aspect of the pay­back can be con­trolled with a remote or mouse.  I couldn’t find a flaw in the way their tv and movie sec­tion runs, I love it.

Music:  10 out of 10
Box­ee music set­up was sim­ple and it works flaw­less­ly.  It groups your music col­lec­tion by artist and album.  It also has fil­ters that allow you to sort by year, genre, recent­ly added, or alpha­bet­i­cal­ly.  I per­son­al­ly leave Boxee’s music sec­tion run­ning on my home the­ater pc con­stant­ly.

Box­ee Apps:  8 out of 10
To be per­fect­ly hon­est I haven’t spent too much time work­ing with the appli­ca­tions that can be added to Box­ee.  I have Pan­do­ra, World Cup: South Africa, and Net­flix.  Each of those apps work per­fect­ly and as you would expect.  There are many apps that can be found in the Box­ee repos­i­to­ry such as Digg, Click­er, YouTube, CNN and so much more.  I gave the apps an eight out of ten due to the time it takes to load the repos­i­to­ry and the wast­ed time to find the app you are look­ing for.

Sum­ma­ry and Final Score:  8.4 out of 10
Over­all I have to say that Box­ee Beta is a big leap for­ward from the pre­vi­ous alpha ver­sion. The user inter­face is well thought out, and nav­i­gat­ing through­out the ecosys­tem was a breeze. There is still some work that can be done in the App Library.  I would also like to see some more views added to the Media Library and more thought but into the movie details page. For some­one who likes to be able to cus­tomize and have more con­trol over the expe­ri­ence Box­ee just might not quite do it.  How­ev­er for the per­son who just wants some­thing sim­ple that is easy to nav­i­gate and not have to wor­ry about some of the com­plex­i­ties involved with oth­er media cen­ter appli­ca­tions, Box­ee might just be the answer.  Since Box­ee cleaned up its sta­bil­i­ty issues com­bined with the Box­ee Box, could make for an excel­lent prod­uct that could final­ly bring the media cen­ter con­cept into the main­stream, some­thing AppleTV failed to do.

Have your say

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Archives - Powered by WordPress - A theme by cssigniter.com