Tag Archives | Boxee

Okay, Is Now the Time to Dump Cable TV?

A year ago, I toyed with the idea of getting rid of cable and doing all my TV watching online. In the end, I kept Comcast–partially out of lethargy, but mostly because (A) cable is still a much better source of news-related programming than the Web, and (B) I’m very comfortable with my TiVo.

Reason (A) still strikes me as a significant argument in favor of keeping cable. With reason (B), however, I may be at a crossroads. My TiVo HD, which never worked very well, now isn’t working at all–it crashes every few minutes. I’m still trying to troubleshoot it, but I suspect that the drive is bad and will need to be replaced. That’ll require an investment of money and time, and while I may go through with it, I’m also flirting with the notion of retiring the TiVo and giving up cable.

News remains the biggest argument against doing so: I still like the idea of having CNN, CSPAN, Fox News, MSNBC, and other newsy outlets readily available. On the other hand, some of this stuff is available in podcast form–albeit after a delay–and it’s not like I’m glued to TV news every night. (I do, however, like to gorge on it when breaking events warrant, whether they involve election night or a celebrity death or the moving tale of a small boy swept away in his father’s experimental balloon.)

If I cut the cable and give up TiVo, what should I replace them with? I’m still not sure. I like Roku. I own an Apple TV that I don’t use much but would probably enjoy if I made an effort to rediscover it. The Boxee Box looks promising.

But the one box that offers access to the widest variety of stuff–including an endless supply of free material–is a PC. So I’m also toying with the notion of connecting a Windows box or Mac Mini to my Vizio and using it for Netflix, Boxee, YouTube, video podcasts, and a whole lot more. The major downside: Even a cheap PC costs a lot more than a Roku or a Boxee Box. But hey, if I’m no longer tithing to Comcast I’ll have some newfound cash to spend.

I don’t need to give up cable. I can afford it, and there are times that I’m very glad I have it. But more and more, I feel guilty about spending as much I do each month given how little of it I end up watching. It feels wasteful, like filling up your plate at an all-you-can-eat buffet when you know you’re only going to take a bite or two.

Here’s the part where I ask for your advice. What would you do? What are you doing?


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Boxee’s QWERTY Remote

The Boxee Box, the Internet TV gizmo that D-Link will be demoing at CES this week, has a remote control with a QWERTY keyboard on its backside. Makes perfect sense. Actually, come to think of it, isn’t it kind of bizarre that there are so many TV boxes today that expect us to laboriously click our way through on-screen keyboards to enter alphanumeric information?


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Boxee Box for Your TV, Beta Software Unveiled

A rowdy crowd of 650 gathered at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn for Boxee’s highly anticipated unveiling of its set top box tonight.

Boxee creates open source software that brings on-demand content from the Internet and home networks to TVs, and while the software has just reached beta, it is enlisting hardware partners to embed it on their devices. (Until now, it’s been available for OS X, Windows, Linux, and as a hack for Apple TV.)  The $200 Boxee Box is the company’s first branded hardware device, manufactured by D-Link. It will become available in the second quarter of next year.

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Hulu Builds Itself a Boxee Clone

4-01-09huluWhen last we reported on the odd relationship between the Hulu Internet TV service and Boxee media center software–part tango, part warfare–Hulu was doing everything in its power to foil Boxee fans who simply wanted to watch Hulu programming via Boxee’s TV-friendly interface. Today, the company launched  a new product: Hulu Desktop. It lets you watch Hulu via a TV-friendly interface. Kind of like Boxee–very much like Boxee–except without all the content, and with terms of service that forbid you from running it on an Apple TV

When the whole spat began back in February, Hulu adopted a sad, thoughtful, open tone in its blog post on the matter. The blog post introducing Desktop, however, trumpets Desktop as something cool invented by some Hulu engineers, and makes no reference to Boxee.

I’m not a Huluhater. I think that content owners are allowed to make decisions about how their content is consumed, even if they A) make my life difficult; and B) may be self-defeating in the long run. And I haven’t given up all hope of some deal being struck that puts Hulu back on Boxee. But this is sad, just sad–and if Hulu Desktop flourishes and Boxee withers away, it’ll be sadder still.

Anyhow, I can’t get Hulu Desktop to run on my Mac–it flings error messages at me, refuses to stream video, and shuts itself down. I’ll try again on another machine. Any opinions?


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5Words for April 7th, 2009

5wordsCare to read some news?

Google searches return local info.

New logos for Intel chips.

New BlackBerry Storm in September?

Problem! Mysterious missing Twitter avatars.

Boxee rolls out API, fixes.

Dual-thumbstick PSP for Christmas?

iTunes variable pricing goes live.

Arrington on FriendFeed: cool, unused?

Drobo introduces eight-bay storage.

AP: hands off our content.


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Boxee Gears Up For Beta Debut

BoxeeBoxee has spent an awful long time in “alpha.” Thus its users will likely be much relieved to know that the application is finally planning to move into beta during this summer. The company is promising that it will be worth the wait, and isn’t exactly disclosing all it plans.

Certainly for being in alpha the application is quite robust. And for whatever reason, it has certainly developed a loyal following if the well-attended meetup in NYC was any indication.

What we do know of whats coming in the product is this:

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Initial Impressions of Boxee NYC

boxeenyc1Well, this post came a little later than I had hoped (car troubles on the way home), but here were my initial impressions of what I saw Tuesday night in NYC. This was definitely a good showing people wise for Boxee — the company reportedly had 1,000 RSVPs. I don’t think everyone showed up, but there were at least 400-500 folks in attendance.

The presentation was marred by glitches, both with the system itself (shows why they’re still in alpha yet), and on the production side. They also tried for the first time to stream the event live over Boxee, which was probably why there were so many issues.

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On The Way to Boxee NYC

So I’m en route with a friend to NYC with a friend to hit up the Boxee meetup. Not exactly sure what we’re going to see, but I am expecting to hear at least a bit about the new upcoming beta from execs Avner Ronen and Whitney Hess.

At least two partners are expected to show up, including representatives from NextNewNetworks, who will show off their music video service, and Blip.tv.

Of course there will be giveaways, food, and music. Maybe I’ll be able to snag an exec to ask them a few questions, we’ll see. Anything you all would like to know?

Boxee is saying that a surprise partner will be making an appearance. I’m hoping it’s Hulu playing nice, but I doubt it since they have their own set top box now…


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Hulu Goes Medieval on Boxee

boxee_logoAt first, the kerfuffle involving the way startup Boxee used clever software to bring Hulu’s Internet TV service to TV sets was rather gentlemanly. Hulu asked Boxee to remove it, and explained why in a blog post that was almost apologetic–and which pretty much blamed it all on Hollywood content owners. Boxee thoughtfully replied in a post of its own–and complied. Unfortunate, yes, but civil.

And then Boxee cleverly used Hulu’s public RSS to bring back access to Hulu content. This time, there was no socratic dialog or genteel request–Hulu blocked Boxee from accessing its feeds.

I’m still sorting out my feelings here–the contrarian in me still believes in Letting People Make Their Own Damn Mistakes–but there’s no question that Hulu’s actions run contrary to the spirit of RSS feeds (which were designed to let folks access contact from whatever tool they pleased) and are a setback for Internet TV’s migration from the computer onto the TV. Which is a migration that’s inevitable, and a boon for consumers.

So I know who I’m ultimately rooting for here: Boxee and Boxee users (the latter group of which includes…me). Hulu hasn’t addressed this latest twist on its blog, but I hope it does so–it’s a company that’s built up a lot of cred for being surprisingly with-it for an enterprise formed by major media conglomerates, and it would be sad to see it backslide into a mode that’s paranoid, obtuse, and resistant to technological developments that help more people get at the cool things it’s doing.

One way or another, an awful lot of us will be watching Hulu or Hulu-like services on our TVs. Boxee is intrepid and innovative, and I hope it gets the opportunity to play a major role in getting us there…

[UPDATE: Dave Zatz right in the comments when he says this tug of war will be ongoing–Boxee is reporting in its blog that the Hulu feed is working again. For now.]


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Hulu Returns To Boxee (Kind of)

BoxeeTalks have so far proven unsuccessful between Hulu and Boxee after the online TV giant asked the media-center software startup to remove its service from its application for Macs, Apple TV, and Windows.  (I’m guessing Hulu’s owners’ pet project is playing a part here), but the set-top box company has come up with a temporary workaround. Boxee’s calling it “bleeding edge.” Translation: its’s not even beta, so don’t expect it to work 100% — but it at least brings back some of the content from Hulu to the service.

Essentially, developers have opened up the service to accept RSS feeds with video. Hulu offers some of these feeds, which make it possible to stream the video included in these fees. It is not limited to Hulu: services that use RSS such as Google Video, Yahoo!, and YouTube are also compatible, as well as many other Web sites.

Also new is an “App Store” of sorts, which is being released with this update, as well as an automatic updating feature. Users would now be prompted to download software updates when they are released.


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