I had used Boxee Box nearly one year and more, and it is so-so for my daily entertainment. I couldn’t enjoy Pandra and Netflix because I live in Japan, but it is acceptable for me. In any way, I feel that Boxee box is not a crap and useful for many person, but I’ll try to write down some reason why I’ve decide to walk away from Boxee box and started to seek alternative for those who seeks good connected media player like me.
1. Unstable web browser
Browser is most part I feel Boxee box needs to improve. When I enjoy 2 hours uStream programme, the browser of Boxee box never came back from the page of programme to home screen. I suspect that Boxee run out of its memory. I had to turn box off and on by hand to get it back to online. As my experience, the web page of Vimeo causes same problem.
The version of flash sometimes old to see some movie in web page. I cannot find how to update it to current version.
2. Not maintained community plug in
Some plugins are not maintained and don’t work with Boxee box. Plugin for Vimeo is one of example, but it is not special. Plugin for TuneIn radio had been able to work and fixed a few months later, but this case is one of fortunate example.
I don’t know why plugin doesn’t work is not maintained and still remains in their repository. I can suspect a few, for example “I had made this plugin but already not maintained for some reason(busy for work).”, “This plugin works well in my environment(sometimes development environment is different from others).”, and so on. Happy plugin sometimes find new maintainer who is different from original author and works it useful for many person, but this is not very common. When original author stops to improve plugin (or some software), it is abandoned in repository or author’s web page in many case…
I have to say again that Boxee box is good and remarkable product in connected TV world where some giant like Apple TV, Google TV, and Roku are playing. Giants have huge number of developer works inside, developer works outside for commercial(and sells their plugin for a few dollars or free). Their development kit is correctly maintained and plugin must go through their authorization process before it comes into market place. This is exact same QA process which they take it for smart phone in order for customer to experience perfect entertainment experience.
Boxee box and other boxee product try completely different environment for developer and consumer. Everyone can write their own plugin using Python and Boxee api. Consumer can add everywhere(URL) as third party repository and can install plugin which made by others. As a result, nobody can guarantee its quality of product.
Linux and some major linux distribution seems keeping good product quality, because they have some maintainer who works at near side of their repository and developer of each software , and finally decides which software should be included or not into their repository. I seem that Boxee lacks this administrative process(, but I don’t know their QA has improved or not now)…
OK. Here is the time to wipe tears and step forward. There is some product which works as media player in linux universe, but XMBC is most useful and highly comfortable as connected TV and media player for your own videos, musics, and sometimes pictures. Fortunately, XMBC is supported in most major linux distributions. I seems that XBMC development team works with Ubuntu distribution, but I decided to deploy XMBC with Fedora bacause I haven’t familiar with Ubuntu. For the Fedora and CentOS, RPMfusion supplies XBMC. So, you can add RPMfusion repository and hit “yum install xbmc”. This is super easy !
You can feel almost same experience with XBMC if you had used Boxee box. You can connect to your nas and play videos, musics, and pictures. You can add some plugins and enjoy network radio, YouTube, Vimeo, and Niconico Doga. If your box has HDMI output, you can connect into your tv in living room(I do.) and enjoy your videos in big screen like home theater.
When you want to see some web site, just launch Firefox or Chromium. It’s really easy. You can enjoy your favorite uStream programme with latest flash player.
You may think about some good remote control for XBMC like me. I’ve tried some remote keyboard and control gadget and uses Logitec K400R. Its weight is light enough and can controll XBMC function perfectly.
Enjoy your Sunday.