Review: Boxee Box
Well, what can I say. Yes, it is odd looking. And very pretty all at once. Kinda like the Hellraiser cube. Scary and beautiful. But, not like it will kill you. It makes your life mo bettah. And isn’t that what we all want? A mo bettah life? Say yes. Ok. I saw the question posted on twitter, Why would you pay $200 for this when the Boxee software is free. And after hugging it out we came to the conclusion that for people that don’t want a second computer or a really big machine right next to their glorious 40″ flat screen, $200 is not all that bad. And I’ve had a Roku for a year, so I’m not coming at this with no base.
So, a little more about the look of this thing. It actually is not as big as most images make it out to be. And the dark color allows it to blend in to almost any decor. We have it tucked just behind the bezel of our Sony Bravia and it hides very well. When it’s off it will disappear. When it’s on the little green froggy will let you know goodness is coming. I actually cleared a shelf for it in my component case, but never got around to putting it in there because it didn’t attract any undue attention. So, it’s a NINJA BOX! And that rocks. If you get robbed they wont see it… Your Boxee Box is safe.
The remote is awesomeness in a bar and I want to bite it. The simple controls on one side are similar to ipod remote controls where the buttons have multiple functions. Flip it over and you have yourself a mini qwerty keyboard. Woot! Only thing I would wish here is that the letters were in a brighter fluorescent paint so that you could almost see them at night. As they are, they too disappear. NINJA LETTERS!!! Not so rockish. So, what about what we see on the TeeVee? That is pretty too. The layout is nice and visually pleasing.
The user experience… ok, there are issues. But, seeing as it launched less than a month ago and they are already pumping out the updates, I am confident they will be worked out quickly. A few glitches and a few popping out of the video playing, which may or may not be a Boxee issue – could be the network – though my connection is pretty good. My main gripe really is the navigation. This may be a little harder to fix. I feel it needs a more unified manner of navigating. Like other minimalist remote situations, the buttons functions change as you go through the pages. I am ok with that. Where the problem comes in is that you can be watching a video and the buttons will react differently depending on the source. Youtube, Website, LAN shared file all with different button functions. That gets really confusing. The apps suffer from this as well. Unity please. Another area that needs improvement is Search and Content Lists. Now, I am a tinkerer and love all this stuff – I will sit there for an hour looking for the right video – my Thanksgiving weekend guests however resorted to DVD’s due to their Boxee frustrations. They have a baby girl and she wanted her cartoons. I was like, “On It!” Typing Dora the Explorer in the search bar yielded 15 results – all clips – most of questionable Youtube “edits” that made them not so rated G. Looking elsewhere I finally made it to the appropriate website and gave her some mini-sodes they have online. But it wasn’t something the unindoctrinated were going to attempt day after day. There was a LOT of Toy Story 3 playing.
I think there are a few things that Boxee Box needs to work on while we wait for Netflix and Hulu Plus. [Yes, I gifted away my Roku already and I am going through Netflix withdrawal!] Some suggestions:
– Color coded search results (a color each for Webpage hit, App hit, or Local/LAN file hit)
– A strongly suggested Navigation Template for app builders. Doesn’t have to be a forced standard but the more unity there the more people who try it out at the store will be happy.
– Defragmentation of the Content Lists… Or perhaps a different naming structure. I see the same term all over the pages, but sometimes it’s local, sometimes not, sometimes it’s an embedded app that I didn’t know existed – Shows?
– At least 2 Social Accounts somehow integrated. I know this was asked at the NYC Launch and was quickly dismissed. But, here we are 2 male adults with VERY different viewing habits. We would like to share independently to our followers. …widens the market. :o)
Ok, and just so you know. WE LOVE YOU BOXEE!!! And we only want the best for you.
Readers, friends, and anyone… Want to know more about a feature from a user perspective? Ask away down there in the comment section…