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Boxee Box By D-Link Review


by Niall Coleman - 5th January 2012
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Boxee Box By D-Link Review

The Remote Control and Software



The Boxee Box comes with a small two-sided remote which is 146mm long by 43mm wide and 14mm high it weighs a feather light 60g with the CR2032 battery.

On one side we find a QWERTY keyboard with soft touch rubber keys. The keyboard has also had arrow keys and integrated menu button. By pressing the Alt button we change the keys from letter to number.

On the other side of the Boxee Box we find 4 way D-pad for navigation with dedicated play/pause, enter and menu buttons. The remote can be bought separately with an USB receiver and this can be used in conjunction with the Boxee software installed on a PC or Mac.

The Software
Boxee is free, open source social media software that allows us to personalise our home media experience. It allows users to watch internet movies and TV shows, listen to online radio and music, and play our local digital music and movies from an SD card or other external storage. Boxee source code is based on the XBMC which Boxee uses as its software framework. This makes Boxee partially open source however, Boxee's social networking layer library, "libboxee" is closed source as it deals with proprietary methods of communication with Boxee's online back-end server which handles the user account information and social network communications between the users in the Boxee userbase.

Boxee supports a wide range of multimedia formats and includes features such as playlists, audio visualizations, slideshows, weather forecasts reporting, and an expanding array of third-party plugins. As a media centre, Boxee can play most audio and video file formats, as well as display images from many sources, including CD/DVD-ROM drives, USB flash drives, the Internet, and local area network shares. The media format support for the Boxee Box that we reviewed includes MP3, WAV/PCM/LPCM, WMA, AIF/AIFF, AC3/AAC, OGG, FLAC, Dolby Digital/Dolby True HD (downmix), FLV/On2 VP6 (FLV/F4V/M4V), H.264 AVC (TS/AVI/MKV/MOV/M2TS/MP4), VC-1 (TS/AVI/MKV/WMV), MPEG-1 (DAT /MPG/MPEG), MPEG-2 (MPG/MPEG/VOB/TS/TP/ISO/IFO), MPEG-4 (MP4/AVI/MOV), DivX 3/4/5/6 (AVI/MKV), Xvid (AVI/MKV), WMV9 (WMV/ASF/DVR-MS). Boxee supports the standard image formats, JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP, TIFF and M3U, PLS, WPL PlayList Formats. Supported Subtitle Formats are SRT, SUB, SSA, SMI, ASS, and supported Resolutions are MPEG2: 1080p at 30fps, 1080i at 60fps, MPEG4: 1080p at 30fps, 1080i at 60fps, WMV9/VC-1: 1080p at 30fps, 1080i at 60fps and H.264: 1080p at 30fps, 1080i at 60fps.

Boxee also utilises a Python powered plugin system and incorporates features such as Apple movie trailer support and subtitle downloading, access to large on-demand video streaming services Netflix, Headweb and VUDU; a range of popular online internet content channels like audio services Pandora Radio, Last.fm, Jamendo, NPR, SHOUTcast radio streams; video services from ABC, BBC iPlayer, Blip.TV, CNET, CNN, CBS, Comedy Central, Funny or Die, Joost, Major League Baseball, NHL Hockey, MTV Music, MySpaceTV, Revision3, MUBI, OpenFilm, SnagFilms, IndieMoviesOnline, EZTakes, United Football League, VEVO, Vice Magazine, TED, The WB Television Network, YouTube and image services from Flickr and PicasaWeb picture viewing plugins. All are available as media sources available alongside the local library. Some of the services are via specialized connections (e.g., YouTube), while the rest are a preselected list of podcast channels for streaming using generic RSS web feeds (e.g., BBC News).

Boxee software also supports Adobe Flash content from sites such as YouTube and Hulu, and display HTML5 or Silverlight content from such web-based services such as HBO Go and Netflix. Boxee are shipping with a closed source, binary-only, program called "bxflplayer", which seems to load Adobe Flash Player and Microsoft Silverlight proprietary plugins. This program communicates with the main Boxee process via shared memory and it renders the video onto screen. By using this approach, it is possible for Boxee not only to play Flash Video and Silverlight content that is protected by DRM (Digital Rights Management) but also allows for the user to control the player using a remote control and other input devices that are more suitable to laid back watching.

Boxee also includes a built-in BitTorrent client, with a frontend for it integrated into the Boxee interface, and there are also Torrent links to legal BitTorrent trackers download sites available incorporated by default. Through Boxee's Python plugin system it is also possible for end-users to add unofficial third-party plugins to enable Torrent downloads.
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