Boxee Box Media Center

Posted by Mark

I’ve got a ton of TV shows and documentaries on my server and for the longest time ever I had been using XBMC to watch them all. XBMC is basically a software that allows you to stream videos from another computer or hard drive. Originally I used to use XBMC installed onto the old original xbox, then I installed it on a hacked AppleTV but since XBMC on AppleTV couldn’t play 720p video I finally I ended up purchasing the small Acer Revo and was using that to run XBMC until Boxee.

Boxee is the name of another media center software that was actually built using XBMC. But unlike XBMC, Boxee was more focused on providing content (TV Shows/Movies) from the internet primarily and from a local home server secondary. Boxee never really interested me much until the end of 2010 when they did something I always wanted XBMC to do… release a set-top device that was dedicated to just running the media center software. The Boxee Box (pictured above) is a beautifully designed tiny angular cube that runs the Boxee software. Everything about it from the package to the interface is very tastefully designed and that really sets it apart from XBMC. Where XBMC looks like it was put together by geeks, Boxee looks like it was put together by Apple. They even paid attention to the little details like how the Boxee logo lights up in a nice green glow when the device is powered on.

It might not show in the pictures above but the Boxee Box is pretty small, maybe around the same height as the iPhone. It comes with a double sided remote control that has a very simple minimal amount of buttons on one side and a QWERTY keyboard on the other. The remote uses radio instead of infrared to send signals which is great because you can hide the Boxee Box anywhere in the room and still be able to control it. It also comes with a power adapter that works in Kuwait (110-240v) as well as a HDMI cable.

The interface is very easy to use. You can easily browse the available online TV Shows and Movies all nicely organized but you need to have a VPN account (I use StrongVPN) to actually watch the shows online since they don’t allow non-US residents to stream stuff. Watching your local media files is also easy, you can either plug in a hard drive into one of the Boxee USB ports or connect to your home server over Ethernet or Wifi. Once you add the media it will scan IMDB for information on the shows or movies and then download the DVD cover and all the other information and store them on Boxee. It’s really very easy to use, much easier than XBMC since Boxee is trying to be fairly mainstream.

There are some minor downsides but it’s really just nitpicking. I don’t like how the remote control feels and I can never tell which side is up or down without looking at the remote. The remote keyboard buttons on the rear also need to be pressed hard but I guess that’s better than no keyboard at all. Boxee is also not as easily customizable as XBMC.

Price wise it’s fairly decent costing around KD50 on Amazon plus around KD13 to ship it with Aramex to Kuwait. I think this is probably the best media center option available right now until Plex (another XBMC clone) starts working properly on the Roku. Boxee doesn’t have any trouble playing 1080p video files and most importantly it doesn’t take much shelf space while still managing to look very cool. If you have a lot of media files and are looking for an easy way to watch them on your TV screen then I highly recommend the Boxee Box. It’s only available on Amazon and here is the link if you’re interested [Amazon Link]

Update: Forgot to mention you can install Apps in Boxee and my favorite is Pandora.


google plus share facebook share twitter share




50 comments, add your own...


  1. Ab7ag says:

    3ash bu boxee

  2. Bo Ramzi says:

    have it for like 2 weeks good but glitchy. Limra in Hawali (Wala’a Complex) sell it 65KD.

  3. desertsky says:

    Boxee did something the end of 2011? Is this device a time machine as well LoL?

  4. yousef5 says:

    When I was studying int he US and had 5 mbp/s, I used the boxee software on my laptop. You can download it off their website and its the same thing as this box thing. I connected my mac through mini dvi – hdmi, and used the apple remote to control it all. Worked awesome but the software was kinda buggy.

  5. KaY says:

    I was Waiting for someone to bring up the subject of a media tank so i could say something bout this device i bought.. i have done tons and almost a year of research on which device i should use to watch my BluRay Rips on my 6TB WD drive. I found out about a device called ‘Popcorn Hour C-200′ it just basically plays Everything all formats, full HD quality, also 3D output compatible, it’s a bit pricy, but its definatly worth it, streams with 802.11n, so you shouldnt be having a problem with HD contents. they have made it perfect in all aspects, the remote control which lights up when yr watching in a dark room in RF signal, so you dont need to point at anything, the User menu, i could go on for hours, it was money well spent. was around $300, if you are a Hardcore movie fanatic like i am, and wanna know more about this, please feel free contact me.

    • Mark says:

      popcorn has been around for awhile and can’t be compared to boxee. Boxee and XBMC actually organize your library. There are a ton of devices that can play any format you throw at it but Boxee and XBMC organize all your files and then slaps on a easy to use interface. If you don’t care about Boxee or XBMC just get a Roku for $79 and it should play everything popcorn can.

  6. Pickles says:

    I bought BB last November, I used to be a big fan of there software (available for mac/win/linux) before BB was release. I only bought to watch local content on my server, not interested in watching Flash on my HD flat screen. most of the movies I got are 1080p or 720p (in H.264). here are 10 things I hate about BB :

    1) each firmware update is more like a downgrade ( removed volume control, crashes, slow downs)
    2) Ethernet port is 10/100 not 1gig.
    3) wireless-n is only 2.4Ghz no 5.0Ghz
    4) buffering, buffering, buffering, …. over wireless-n (tried different channels, and configs)
    5) useless without the remote.
    6) media library scanning is slow and cannot be stopped.
    7) doesn’t use local meta files, and pics.
    8) no solution for “unidentified files” (you cannot create a folder and name it whatever you want, e.g. arabic movies/cartoons)
    9) some movies fails to be identified even when boxee itself finds the result on imdb.
    10) it’s made by D-link.

    the thing about boxee is that when you first get it you love it, but the more you use it the more you hate it. it’s better to wait for V2.

    • Mark says:

      If there is a V2 its just going to be another firmware upgrade which you seem to not like. I didn’t mind the removal of the volume control and haven’t experienced a single crash or slow down but I’m also connected via ethernet so I’m not sure if its a wifi thing. The fact that its useless without a remote or that scanning the media library is slow etc.. is common between Boxee and XBMC and really are minor annoyances than deal breakers.

  7. KaY says:

    Mark, Buddy, obviously you havn’t seen the popcorn interface, the best thing about the MF is that its so well organised and its fully customizeable, and it’s linked directly to IMDB.. sho biddak a7san min haik :P

    all the results and comparisons showed me that the Popcorn is in a totally different league than the rest of media centers.

    watch this link,

    • Mark says:

      dude your video is actually a perfect example of why xbmc and boxee are in a different league when it comes to the interface…

      watch this

  8. KaY says:

    Well, im noticing a frequent lack of this and lack of that and problems and stuff in that video, i’ll give you that the interface looks somewhat cooler than the Popcorn video i posted, but remember it is totally customizable, and who said anything about Popcorn not being able to install apps on it.

    You’re Happy with your Boxee :)
    I’m Happy With My Popcorn :)

    We’re Going Nowhere with this,

    but since yr here, give me your opinion on me purchasing a Devolo Powerline Ethernet Adapter, http://www.Devolo.Com since the 3D content is choppy on rare occassions, im thinking of getting this and boost up the transfer.

  9. GWB says:

    Can it be hooked up to the OSN box so you can save programs on it instead of the OSN hard disk?

  10. Inzow says:

    I am a media tank die-hard fan and i tried many many different ones. I currently use Boxee Box and Popcorn Hour c-200.

    My biggest complaint about Boxee Box is when it fails to find the information of some episodes in the same folder of a TV show and list them in the unidentified files section or movie section, i even try to update them manually and choose the name of the show from the online search feature but it wont let me. So basically some of my files get spred over different categories.
    Other than that its a very beautiful looking software/hardware device.

    Popcorn Hour has Apps, very big compared to other devices and the interface is nothing compared to Boxee Box but, when it comes to functionality, it is still my favorite media tank. The only device that can fast forward/rewind/skip scenes 1080p mkv files on the fly over the network. And yeah a back-lit easy buttons remote controller.

    • Mark says:

      do what I do and that is rename every single file you download. I am very neat with the naming of my files and they all follow the same format. I had only 24 items it couldn’t categorize for example.

      • Inzow says:

        I do rename every single file. It annoys me that for some TV shows it just can’t figure out the file even though it has the same name pattern as the episode before/after it!

  11. Burhan says:

    I’m gonna put on my editor hat for this one:

    “XBMC is basically a media center software that allows you to stream videos from another computer or hard drive.”

    No need for “a media center software” – just “XBMC is basically media center software”

    “I installed it on a hacked AppleTV but since XBMC on AppleTV couldn’t play 720p video I filed I ended up purchasing the small Acer Revo and was using that to run XBMC until Boxee.”

    I would like to know what you filed exactly :)

    “But unlike XBMX, Boxee was more focused on”

    XBMX! Woohoo new Xbox game? :)

    ” the internet primarily and from a local home server secondary. ”

    1. Internet – 2. secondarily (yes, it is a word) :)

    “as well as an HDMI cable.” – as a HDMI cable

    Now that that is out of the way…

    Boxee boxes are cool, but they suffer from the same “problem” in that if your media content can’t easily be categorized you are left to your devices (pun) as to how to fix the situation.

    How much media did you throw at it, and how slow was the streaming? Does it encode/recode as well and provide a media server over wifi?

    Most software based media servers provide this feature – would be curious to know if boxee has this.

    • Mark says:

      fixed the mistakes.

      Regarding letting boxee categorize my stuff i mean thats why i like boxee or xbmc. I wouldn’t want to do the categorizing myself.

      Now I haven’t had any issues with boxee categorizing mystuff, it couldn’t categorize only 24 items but then again i am a very super neat freak and all my stuff is named and organized properly anyway.

      I didn’t understand your question regarding encoding/recoding though

      • Burhan says:

        Some media players will encode whatever you are streaming to the device. So lets say you want to view your media on your PS3, they will detect it and then send the PS3 your movie in a format it can understand.

        • Mark says:

          I still don’t understand, why would u want to stream your media from the server to boxee and then to ps3? Why not watch it on boxee?

          • Burhan says:

            In a house where you have multiple devices that can consume media, you need a central server that can transmit to various devices.

            Easy scenario – play something on the main TV (using whatever player you have – lets say a PS3) and then watch something else on the iPad.

            All from the same library, all properly encoded.

            There are programs that can turn your computer into this – which have similar features to xmbc that’s customized for boxee.

    • Tariq says:

      You should come to my place and forget about all that HiTech Stuff and lets have some “EXTRA EXTRA CHECKING WINGS” over dinner tonight…

  12. Yeni says:

    Enjoy your unlimited Mada, once you’re capped you can forget about streaming. Something MUST be done about the caps! Its soooooooo unfair :(

  13. Q says:

    I tried so many things in the past but the option I used most was the PS3 media server, which is absolutely perfect if you want something quick and easy … except when you need to stream good quality files.

    Recently I took a step backwards technologically but it works perfectly. I bought a new Samsung 8 series LED which comes with a media center, but I cant stream things on it much, so what Im doing now is a very basic solution but works great. I have an external hard drive which I update weekly (takes less than 2 mins) with the latest shows I downloaded, and everything is organized like I have it on my laptop, then I use the TV media center and Im watching 720p shows perfectly!

    (btw I highly recommend Game of Thrones in high quality Mark)!

  14. Gangsta says:

    How did you get your VPN gateway setup!? Is it setup on ur boxee or router!?

  15. Abdullah says:

    Mark how Pandora works here in Kuwait? are u using vpn?

    • Mark says:

      At home it works without VPN, at work I have to use a vpn

      • Tariq says:

        So it works just fine and there is no region problem with Boxee???

        your saying that it can Run Pnadora, Netflix or what ever here in Kuwait with out a region issue?

        or should use VPN?

        • Mark says:

          At home for some odd reason I can run Pandora without a VPN. But for everything else you do need a VPN. I haven’t tried Netflix though since I opt to watch shows that have advertising that way you don’t pay for it.

  16. GWB says:

    Mark,

    Doesn’t the VPN connection slow your speed down? It does in my case, quite a bit.

    • Mark says:

      It really depends on your VPN provider. I actually use my VPN sometimes to speed up my connection (when there is some local DNS issue).

  17. Tariq says:

    I read more about it, and it seems like a good device, and the codex there is amazing, but Next to my PC, Xbox 360, PS3 all hocked up to both my bedroom TV, and the living room that pretty much the same VPN is already there, and i can’t say it wont be less headache for me to remove all of these nasty cables from my life…

    I DONT KNOW WHAT DO?!!!! :(…………………

    • Mark says:

      yeah i know cables become problematic, i just leave all my cables there even if i no longer use them. then once every 6 months i do a proper cleanup removing the cables i no longer nee

    • Mark says:

      actually my biggest issue is lack of power spots. i have 2 routers, tv, amp, xbox 360, ps3, Acer revo, Boxee, imac, headphone amp, showtime receiver and 2 external hard drives all located in the same place.

      • Tariq says:

        LOL

        so at least im not the only one who buried under the cables, and this is not all the things that i got in the same place, MAN I HATE ” cotton candy dust balls and stuff that hangs around my computer and behind the TV…

  18. KaY says:

    Tariq, Get Yourself a Popcorn Hour C-200 :)

    Am i the only one who has this device in Kuwait?!!

    • Tariq says:

      KaY

      Thanks for the advice, but as one my bad addictive habits that i share with lot of people and SPECIALLY Mark who’s also an addict to this thing what i personally call

      “I GOT TO HAVE THIS GEEKY HITECH THING THAT SOMETIMES I DONT REALLY NEED, BUT I GOT TO SYNDROM”

      but over the years i’ve been here and i learn from Mark experience and other people and of course my personal experience that we should try and control of selfs from time to time…

      my personal favorite experience that i caught from Mark was trying these Great Awesome Flavory juicy Burgers that i tried early this year just after new years party in New York after i got out from JFK my friend first question was what you wonna do or eat? i siad ” TAKE ME TO SHAKE SHACK ” and if you have been around here for a while you would know how addictive to “AWESOMENESS TASTY FOOD” you can be addicted too…

      thats a habit i cant stop my self from experiencing (^_^)

  19. Tariq says:

    Hey Mark

    all that talk about Food, made me think “WHY THE HELL YOU DON’T REVIEW OUR SHAWERMA MAN???”

    (^_^)

  20. V-Sensation says:

    I found all this media centers a little bit useless when they come without an internal hard drive… lets say, you always need your external hard drives, servers or laptops running to stream that signal (Video files)… I rather turn off my computer and use the media center only!

    I think Wd TV Live Hub 1TB is a bit more usefull in my personal opinion.

    • Mark says:

      1TB? I don’t think I have any hard drive at home that’s under 1.5TB and none of those store any media. All my media is in my drobo which has around 5.5TB at the moment. A media center with a hard drive would be useless for me plus very limiting.

      Right now my server contains all my media which I can then watch on any tv in the house or any other device like an iphone or ipad. I can even stream movies and shows from my computer at home to my computer at work if I want.

      • V-Sensation says:

        We are Media consumers… I just remember 1991 when my brother and I bought a 100mb Hard Drive!

        Now 1 TB and its not enough….

  21. Naj says:

    Hi mark, i have a dell media pc connected to my living room tv with all my shows installed in it, if i connect the boxee to my bedroom tv, can i stream my files from my pc to the boxee via wifi ????

  22. شاي سنقيم says:

    I need an instructing on how setting up the vpn in the boxee box .. any help ?

    and will Roku work in Kuwait ?


Leave a Reply



Commenting is a privilege not a right. I allow comments on the site because I believe that you can make a valuable contribution but in return I expect that you comment responsibly.


Contribute

If you have anything you think would be interesting to share on this blog
[Email Me]