Can Boxee Outfox Your Set-Top Box?

Category: Television

More and more cable TV subscribers are cutting the cable to save money, and instead opting for free and low-cost Internet TV services. The alternatives to traditional subscription TV services include streaming media players such as Apple TV, Roku and a lesser-known competitor, Boxee. Can a Boxee box bring you enough streaming Internet video to replace your expensive cable TV subscription? Let's take a look...

Boxee, Television and Streaming Internet Video

Boxee launched in 2008 as a desktop software application that brought Internet video content to a computer running Windows, Mac, or Linux. However, as of January, 2012, the desktop client is no longer being developed. Instead, Boxee is focused on licensing its software to set-top box manufacturers.

The Boxee Box (D-Link version) has a small but odd form factor; one corner of the roughly cubical Box is sliced off, and the device sits on this surface. So the top is a corner of the 4-inch cube, making it impossible to stack anything on top of it. Perhaps that’s a good idea. All of the connectors are on the back of the box, which is generally not a good idea.

Inside the Boxee Box is an 802.11n (Wireless N) adapter for connecting wirelessly to your Internet router. The HDMI port connects the Boxee to your TV. Both USB and SD slots let you load your own photos and videos into the device. There’s also an Ethernet network port, if you want to connect to the router with a good old-fashioned wire.
Boxee Internet TV

A combination remote control with a QWERTY keyboard on the flipside is included. This device controls the Boxee Box and allows searching for things to watch. If you prefer not to have yet another gadget lying on the couch, you can use your iPhone or Android smartphone as a Boxee remote. Cool side effect: use the voice search feature of your phone to find stuff to watch.

The Boxee Box can play almost any video or music that can be found on the Internet, according to the company. A myriad of file formats are supported. Boxee says that over 40,000 TV shows are available right out of the ummm, Box. Plus, there are apps to connect you to subscription services, including Netflix, and video rental services such as Vudu and MUDI. YouTube, Pandora, and over 300 other streaming services are available as well. But that’s not all!

Boxee: An Overabundance of Features?

Boxee’s Watch Later feature lets you add videos to your Boxee Box. It’s a bookmarklet that installs on browsers in computers and mobile devices. Find a video you want to watch on the big screen TV? One click sends it to your Boxee Box for later viewing. Boxee can also play content stored on any computer on your local network. Or you can plug a USB drive into the box and watch content stored on it.

Boxee comes with thousands of TV show episodes available from the Internet. And if you want YouTube on your living room TV, Boxee can do it. But if (like me) you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’ll be disappointed that Boxee does not offer Amazon Video content. That’s exactly why I bought a Roku2 box a few weeks ago. See my related articles What is Apple TV? and Can Roku Replace Cable TV? to learn more about those offerings.

So can Boxee replace your cable TV subscription? It really depends on what you like to watch. You may well be able to find all the TV shows you like online for free. You can always supplement with a Vudu or Netflix subscription, and still pay much less than the cost of cable TV. Just don't expect a one-for-one replacement of everything you currently have on your Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Cablevision or Verizon FIOS lineup.

Social networking is built into Boxee, for some reason. When setting up your Boxee Box, you have to register one or more accounts with Boxee online. You can also connect to Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr via Boxee. Once your social accounts are set up, you can share content with your friends on these services (if any have Boxee). You can also take a peek at what your friends are watching at any given moment. Personally, I don't get the whole "tell your friends what you're watching" concept.

A Boxee Box will set you back about $180 on Amazon. An Apple TV box costs $99, while the cheapest Roku device is around $50. But wait, there’s more! Boxee just added a new device that lets you pull in over-the-air digital TV. The Boxee Live device is a USB dongle that plugs into the back of the Boxee Box (or a USB port on a computer equipped with the orphaned Boxee desktop software). The price of this marvel is only $50.

Yes, Boxee is much more open and flexible than Apple TV or Roku. But Boxee seems to be over the top with features that few people would find compelling. It’s high price compared to competitors is also discouraging. Am I missing something? If you love your Boxee, tell me why!

Your thoughts are welcome on this topic! Post your comment or question below...

Ask Your Computer or Internet Question

  (Enter your question in the box above.)

It's Guaranteed to Make You Smarter...

AskBob Updates: Boost your Internet IQ & solve computer problems.
Get your FREE Subscription!


Check out other articles in this category:

Link to this article from your site or blog. Just copy and paste from this box:

This article was posted by on 24 Jul 2012

For Fun: Buy Bob a Snickers.

Prev Article:
What's Hiding On Your Hard Drive?

The Top Twenty
Next Article:
Ten Video Editing Tools

Most recent comments on "Can Boxee Outfox Your Set-Top Box?"

Posted by:

Les Tihor
24 Jul 2012

I've had my Boxee Box for about a year and I have to say that I'm disappointed in it. Watching movies on Netflix, after about 20 minutes of viewing the unit starts buffering. And, with time the buffering becomes more frequent to the point that it occurs every few minutes. Using my laptop connected to the TV to watch Netflix, there is never buffering during a movie. The problem with Boxee occurs whether the internet connection is WiFi or hard wired. I am located in Canada and my high speed internet connection is via wireless from a local tower to my antenna on a tower on my roof. I'm sorry I bought (the expensive) Boxee and I would not recommend it to anyone.

Posted by:

David Permenter
24 Jul 2012

Hi Bob, I live in Hungary. Will Boxee work in Europe? Also, our current is 220v, 50 hZ. Insight?

EDITOR'S NOTE: According to this 2010 notice, yes.

See also:

Posted by:

24 Jul 2012

I have a heads up Les Thor. The problem may not be the "Boxee Box" but another appliance on your home internet. My Visio TV was doing the same thing your "Boxee Box" was doing. I found that one of my VOIP telephones was sucking down 8Mb/Sec of my bandwidth. After I removed it from the network I was seeing 9Mb/Sec available in VUDU's bandwidth tester, and I haven't had a buffering issue since.

Posted by:

25 Jul 2012

None of these provide live Pro Sports, so they will not be replacing my cable TV anytime soon.

Posted by:

Russell Coover
25 Jul 2012

I presently use Roku (with Netflix) for much of my television viewing, but even with many of the TV Network Prime Time shows available for viewing over the internet, it will not, it cannot. replace my Cable Television Subscription.

I live in a very nice area, but, unfortunately, NO OVER THE AIR TV CHANNELS ARE AVAILABLE HERE, so no access to local news and sports is available except by cable or satelite.Yes, I can get Major League Baseball over the internet, but the local teams are blacked out. The same situation exists for Hockey, Football and most other sport. And sure I can get news over the internet, and I do, but I still like getting the reports from that friendly face that I am so familiar with and the sexy weathergal with the tight sweater and small waist.

So I'll continue with my Roku, but I'll also continue my cable tv subscription.

Posted by:

Jim Swan
25 Jul 2012

How about in Japan?

EDITOR'S NOTE: My best guess is no, based on a quick Google search. Better to check at Boxee.TV, though...

Posted by:

Fred Walmsley
25 Jul 2012

What about jailbroken Apple TV Version 2 give you 720p picture quality and if your broadband speed is 15mbps or more then usually not heard of any buffering issues plus you can get any Sky sprts or virtually any channels you want for free (is this legal?) not sure, but Apple version 3 is out now with 1080p quality and I am told will be jailbroken very soon which means why would you bother with Cable or any other subscriptions? I havn't got a box as yet but seriously considering bypassing these rip off subscriptions sounds the sensible way forward and here in the UK they are installing mpeg4 for mobile network so the Broadnand speed is going to be about 2gbps which is amazingly fast . I am no expert but is this the way to go or not? any advice appreciated .Fred

Posted by:

01 Aug 2012

Can it replace the cable box?

That answer would be no and a quite big no at that.

The boxee box had huge promise and unfortunately failed to deliver on most of it.

The firmware is about as stable as Lindsy Lohan at times and still contains bugs going back to it launch.
They failed to deliver on the promised Hd audio and even went so far as to lie about a fix.

The list of bugs so long at this point there not enough space here to post them all but here a taste.
Browser crashes as much as it works.
It well lockup for no reason
scanning on the wd takes say 20 min and it takes 28 hours for the boxee.

There have been no updates in months and no talk.
Likelihood is its being replaced and boxee has a habit of dropping past products.

Posted by:

05 Aug 2012

Forget about all the other boxes. The WD streaming media box does everything. All the usual streaming sites plus it will play literally any video format you throw at it.

Posted by:

Jim Ruby
20 Aug 2012

Boxee does not have voice over like apple tv does and I require this, or maybe boxee can do some sort of speach output for those with out sight can use it? I tried the rocu, but that will not talk either and contacting the company about it ended up in they just not being interested.

Post your Comments, Questions or Suggestions

*     *     (* = Required field)

    (Your email address will not be published)
(you may use HTML tags for style)

YES... spelling, punctuation, grammar and proper use of UPPER/lower case are important! Comments of a political nature are discouraged. Please limit your remarks to 3-4 paragraphs. If you want to see your comment posted, pay attention to these items.

All comments are reviewed, and may be edited or removed at the discretion of the moderator.

NOTE: Please, post comments on this article ONLY.
If you want to ask a question click here.

Free Tech Support -- Ask Bob Rankin
Subscribe to AskBobRankin Updates: Free Newsletter

Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved
About Us     Privacy Policy     RSS/XML

Article information: AskBobRankin -- Can Boxee Outfox Your Set-Top Box? (Posted: 24 Jul 2012)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved