Last week, I placed a pre-order for a Boxee Box (you can too via this handy pre-order link!). Why? Well, I've been watching the network/local media player space evolve over the past few years, and I've yet to implement any of them. I've seen two basic types of devices:
- Devices that offer superior technical capabilities in terms of files (ISO rips, etc.) and formats supported (every video codec under the sun), but lack any semblance of true usability, often featuring awful user interface, painful performance, or both. I'd put most of the dedicated network media players in this camp; Popcorn Hour, efforts from Seagate, Western Digital, Asus, etc.
- Devices that offer superior user interface and usability, but lack broad technical abilities; they're often limited in terms of file types (no ISO support), codecs, and are very mainstream in their support of content. I'd put Windows Media Center, and anything based on that (Media Center Extenders), in this category along with the Xbox 360, Apple TV, etc.
I've wanted a device that does both, and it looks like the Boxee Box may be the closest I've come so far. I've messed around with several of these devices over the years; I even bought an Acer Aspire Revo and installed XBMC on it in the hopes that I'd finally be able to do what I wanted. It failed. Read more...