Our good friends over at D-Link have let us take a good look at their fairly new Boxee Box. This is the newest evolution in D-Link’s line of streaming media devices that allow a user to stream music and movies directly to their TV. Join us as we delve deep into the Boxee Box by D-Link’s features.
Lets start out with the Boxee Box technical specifications or tech specs. The Boxee box has the following specifications:
- Intel Atom Processor
- 1080p HD resolution
- 5.1 surround sound
- Optical and Stereo Audio
- HDMI video/audio out
- Wireless N/Wired Internet
- RF “Point-Anywhere” Remote
- 2 USB ports for external storage
- SD card slot for photos/video/music
- Full HTML5 compliant Webkit browser
- Support for Flash 10.1
- High Profile HD Streaming
Let me make one point clear, the Boxee “only” supports HDMI video out, so make sure that your TV has this input on it otherwise it will not work for you. The wireless RF remote is also a big plus because it allows you to put the Boxee Box pretty much anywhere as it does not need line of sight with the remote. The back of the remote also includes a full QWERTY keyboard for entering text into the Boxee. The Boxee is very snappy and navigation takes some getting used to but is not a big hindrance.
First we have the main screen that you see after the Boxee Box is turned on after it’s initial setup. From this screen you can navigate to the Apps area, Movies, Files, Shows, Watch Later, and Friends. From this screen a user can typically navigate through the entire device.
The first section we are going to take a look at is Apps. From this area you can download and use a wide variety of Apps that are all available for free on the Boxee Box. The Apps range from Netflix to Pandora for music, TWIT.TV, ESPN, and more. You can even launch the YouTube App and watch videos from YouTube.com on your TV screen in full HD.
The movies screen lets you take a look at the most popular movies at not so popular. When a movie is selected, the Boxee will check to see if it is available on the VUDU service and for what price. One of the features I wish the Boxee has was to let you know if a movie or show was also available on Netflix, as of right now the Boxee does not. After selecting a movie you can view a quick snapshot of the sinopsis and a trailer. As of writing there are currently 10,143 movies available for purchase and streaming on the Boxee Box.
Also included on the Boxee Box is the TV shows section. In this area you can find information and episodes from current TV shows that are available on the Boxee. Most shows that are shown in this section will take you to the actual website of the network and then play them through their website with the use of flash. I find this to be most uncomfortable because you are viewing something that is meant to be viewed on a computer on a TV. The video players to not function very well and are slow on the Boxee Box however it does allow you to watch your shows.
The “friends” section of the Boxee Box is there for you to keep in touch with friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Buzz. When friends view videos with the Boxee, you can then browse through the videos they watched and watch them yourself
The “Watch Later” feature on the Boxee is there for the videos that you have added with the Boxee Bookmarklet available on your web browser. You can install this Bookmarklet by visiting http://boxee.tv/services and clicking on the “watch later” section and following the on screen instructions.
The “files” section of the Boxee is by far the most powerful feature. This section allows you to stream content from any computer on your network or even remotely. The Boxee can play most video files on the internet even ones you might think it can’t. It can also index your media over the network or on a local SD card or hard drive attached. After indexing media from the Boxee it will download album art and information about each file that it indexes. The Boxee can stream the videos over the network in full 1080p HD if you have them on your network of course or even on the external hard drive attached or SD card.
The Boxee also has a full featured web browser that can even view flash video and websites. The browser isn’t exactly that easy to use on a TV with a very small keyboard on the back of the remote but it can be gotten used to and it isn’t what you should be purchasing the Boxee for.
Overall the Boxee Box by D-Link is a solid device. I really like how well it is able to stream HD video, it does it much better than the Xbox 360 as the Xbox doesn’t do it natively. However the Boxee needs a few improvements to the UI to make it move a little faster and make navigation faster. Right now it takes a little time to get to learn the navigation aspects on the Boxee but after that you will be fine. Flash video works decently on the Boxee, but I hope it will be improved in a later version. The biggest problem I have with the Boxee is viewing TV shows which originate on actual websites, it moves quite slow and the advertisements tend to freeze in the middle of the screen. Despite these flaws I had fun with the Boxee and I would give it a solid 4.5/5 Gears overall. You can view a getting started video by D-Link below for more information.