The Boxee Box has to be one of the most anticipated pieces of home-cinema hardware in recent years. It brings the social media system Boxee together with some stylish hardware from D-Link to produce a set-top box that pipes movies, music and apps to your TV in magnificent style.
Since it was announced -- and demoed at CES this year -- the guts of the Boxee have changed considerably. Initially an Nvidia Tegra 2 was going to be running the show, but it was found to be unable to process high-quality H.264 video. Now it's an Intel Atom chip on board, which leads to some interesting questions over what else you could use the hardware for, were you a fan of hacking things.
You may notice that the surface of the Boxee is no longer a gigantic
fingerprint magnet mirror. Also missing is the second USB socket on the front underside of the box, but there are two sockets on the rear now.
With Apple TV almost certain to add apps at some point and Google TV entering this market it's no surprise the Boxee has lots of plug-in options for making it more impressive. In our demo, we saw a YouTube app, as well as features that allow the Boxee to grab video from on-demand TV services such as BBC iPlayer.
Video playback looked good to us, but we'll reserve judgment until we see one up and running in our test environment. We adore the idea of having a much more graphical user interface for our video files, and we think this could make finding stuff to watch much easier. We're also excited by the options for online catch-up services. In a way, this could be a much more useful version of YouView, with access to much of the same content but far better media-streaming options.
The box will cost an anticipated £200 in the UK, although we're told that's a promotional price, and could well rise after an initial discount period. It's interesting to note that the US price is $200, leading us to complain once again that someone besides George Osbourne is having a laugh at our literal expense. That aside, have a good click through our hands-on photos and see what's what with the Boxee Box.