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.