Boxee has unveiled a startling design for its custom media player, which will enable the company to shed its reliance on hardware from Apple, and PCs in general. The company has partnered with D-Link to create the box -- for those who haven't been paying attention, D-Link was the company behind the DivX Connected hardware we tested last year.
This being Boxee, the hardware has a quirky design, but should do a smashing job of playing Internet video, downloaded content and all manner of other stuff you might have knocking around.
If you're familiar with Boxee for Apple TV, you'll be aware that the biggest problem is that Apple doesn't allow anyone access to its hardware. This meant that while Boxee on Apple TV was a great idea, it couldn't use its accelerated graphics, meaning HD was unplayable. Boxee on a PC or Mac works a treat, but people don't want to spend a bushel of cash on hardware and electricity to have an over-loud PC under their TV.
What the D-Link hardware will offer is access to the brilliant Boxee interface, playback of a plethora of video types and, crucially, the social network that makes Boxee so cool. If you've never used it, we'd strongly suggest you get a copy of the Boxee software -- it's freely available for all major platforms -- and see how flexible it is. You'll get access to BBC iPlayer too, as well as content from The Onion and Revision 3. In fact, pretty much every major online video site has a plug-in for Boxee, potentially making it the most complete Internet video device out there.
It won't have escaped your attention that we're very keen. As Popcorn Hour lovers, however, we need to make sure Boxee can live up to our very high video-streaming standards before we get too excited. On the face of it, the Boxee Box makes all the right noises -- it's sporting HDMI, dual USB sockets and optical audio out. Also present and correct is an SD-card socket and an Ethernet jack for networking. No mention yet if the device supports Wi-Fi, but we'd be pretty surprised if it didn't, as D-Link is very much a player in the wireless game.
With luck, we'll be able to review this device as soon as it hits the shops. At the moment, it's not clear if the Box will come directly to the UK. Rumours about its price are that it will cost around $200 (£120) -- which puts it in direct competition with the Popcorn Hour A-110.