Boxee Box UK Review

Up until recently, I’ve been streaming video from my Mac to my HDTV via my trusty old XBox360 Elite which I bought on release day. Unfortunately after 3 repairs and 4 years of service, it recently succumbed to the villainous Red Ring of Death and I decided it was time to trade it in for something new.

My first thought was a new style Xbox, but I don’t really play games much any more and I’m sure we’re probably only a year or so away from an all new breed of XBox (the Xbox 720?). With that in mind, I decided to look into some sort of network media player.

Because I have an old Philips Ambilight TV that we purchased just before the industry standardised on HDMI, our TV has no HDMI. Philips instead opted for a combination of DVI and stereo inputs for HD content, this means that any device I purchased would require a HDMI out (which I can convert to DVI with a handy dongle) and separate red/white RCA stereo outputs for the audio.

My first thought was the Apple TV. The latest version plays full 1080p HD content, but I quickly dismissed it because it only streams content in a few Apple approved formats and because it had no RCA outputs on the back of the unit. I have a large library of media in a whole bunch of formats and I just couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of converting.

So after a bit more searching I came across the Boxee Box by D-Link. The Boxee software seemed perfect for what I needed and the device itself was small, but looked pretty cool, so I stumped up the cash and decided to give it a whirl.

Within half an hour of plugging the Boxee Box in, I had already decided it was going back. The software interface, while pretty, was laggy and unintuitive and seemed to crash every time I tried to adjust a setting. The unit refused to play at 1080p (something my 4 year old Xbox did automatically) and indexing the content took an age, even though I had already set up the shares via the Boxee server app. Worst of all, the Boxee would freeze constantly and require a hard reboot to get it going again.

I managed to briefly get into the web browser (after a software update which also caused a crash) and the experience there was terrible. It’s literally the worst internet experience I’ve had since Opera mini on the Sony Ericsson K800i. Forcing you to move an onscreen cursor using the d-pad on the remote just feels utterly ridiculous in this day and age.

After about half an hour of freezing, crashing and laggy behaviour I decided enough was enough and packed it back into it’s box and arranged a return with Amazon, who were awesome, and always a great choice if you have doubts when buying a product as they cover all the return costs.

Sorry Boxee, maybe next time.

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by Andy

About Andy

Andy Warburton is a web designer and developer from the UK currently living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. When he's not building totally awesome WordPress themes or stuffing his face with Sushi, Andy can be found hanging out with his wonderful wife and child. You should totally follow me on Twitter

2 Comments – Join The Discussion!

  • Hi Andy. This is very helpful but I still can’t decide which streamer to choose. Apple TV is good but restricts you in formats , connections.
    In addition I want to get rid of my Virgin contract so also want maximum free view channels through Internet and freely browse and use all the catchup apps of main TV channels.
    Boxee gets good reviews but its tv contents seems more suitable for USA but otherwise seems a good choice. I never came across the software interface problems likes the ones you mentioned but do you think by now there might be an improvement !
    Otherwise if I am less fussed about formats ( I don’t use many as I am pretty basic level media user) shall I go for Apple TV or are there other choices ?
    Thank you for putting up the reviews



    By Teddy on December 26, 2012 @ 9:43 am | # | Reply

    • Hi, I have just bought Apple TV as a gadget to share IPad content on my TV rather than as a Tv content provider.
      It is easy to set up and mirrors your phone/iPad dependant on the software version you are running. You can show photo’s directly onto your TV from your Apple device via airplay rather than downloading them to a PC and then allowing your smart TV to pick them up off your network.
      It provides films to hire or purchase from an expensive library and offers Netflix as an alternative content hirer. It does not offer freeview channels or free TV content for you to watch. There is no BBC Iplayer, ITV Player or 4OD type service, the services available are major league baseball and basketball, that tells you they are not taking the UK seriously in my opinion.
      For TV I would look elsewhere, as an Apple streamer if your house lives and breaths on ITunes then it may have some uses for you, the pic quality is HD and colours are good, the ability to stream your iTunes music is only worthwhile if you have your TV connected to a suitable amp and speakers, my Marantz 1602 supports AirPlay anyway so I stream direct to the Marantz and cut out any additional quality attenuation.
      I saw youview demonstrated at the gadget show and was impressed as a TV content provider, I would be interested to find out if that had any personal streaming capability built in.
      For me Apple TV should be called your Ithingy to big TV screen interface, and not masquerade as a content provider.
      No doubt my fourteen year old son will provide an indepth review in a week or so, but he didn’t shell out the money for it, for now we will fill our boots on the 30 day Netflix free trial that is included.
      Sorry Apple it needs more.

      By Matthew Dalton on December 26, 2012 @ 10:07 pm | # | Reply

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