Today Boxee CEO Avner Ronen announced that the Boxee Box by D-Link will cost $199 when it releases this November. But what is the Boxee Box, you ask? Let me tell you.
The Internet is packed with tons of video. There’s YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, and so on. All of these portals host all kinds of video ranging from movies, TV shows, and user-generated content. Some of these sites feature video in high definition (up to 1080p) and they look great on our desktop monitors and laptop displays. Boxee’s aim is to bring the abundance of video found all over the Internet from your small computer screen to your large HDTV. For years the Boxee software has been available to download for free on the PC, Mac, and Linux and for those who own Boxee-compatible hardware (ie. Apple TV). After years of development, Boxee is almost ready to release the Boxee Box into the wild. The hardware is collabortively made by Boxee and D-Link and the software is developed in-house by the Boxee team. With the Boxee Box, the company is going to bring the ultimate Boxee experience to the living room–they are going to tailor the Internet for the TV 1080p, 5.1 surround sound style (where available).
In essence, the Boxee software aggregates video content from all over the Internet into one place, making it extremely simple to find a TV show, movie, or really any kind of streaming video that is available on the web. The Boxee Box will feature a streamlined user interface to make accessing any streaming video on the ‘Net a snap. For example, let’s say you want to watch an episode of ABC’s Modern Family. You can search the keyboard “Modern Family” and Boxee will scour the Internet for all legal outlets that are streaming episodes from that show. Thanks to the Boxee Box’s built-in Mozilla-based Webkit browser with Flash & HTML5 support, you will have access to so much content you won’t know where to start. And the best part is that the Boxee service is f-r-e-e free! Once you pay for the hardware, there are no additional costs, no subscription fees, no nothing. Stream free video content from the Internet to your TV. That’s it. (Keep in mind that you can also stream Netflix, Hulu Plus, MLB.tv, and other paid content as long as you are a paying subscriber.)
Besides streaming video content from the Internet to your TV, the Boxee Box will also support social networking and all kinds of apps. You can attach your Facebook and Twitter accounts to the Box to keep a tab on what your friends are watching and give recommendations. (Boxee calls this the “first “social” media center”, get it?) In the app center, you can download Internet-streaming applications like Pandora and MLB.tv and run them straight from Boxee. You can take things one step further by wirelessly connecting the Boxee Box to your home network, enabling you to access “virtually any file type” from your computer (think pictures, music, video) to view on your HDTV. If you can view it on your computer, chances are you can view it on your TV if you have the Boxee Box–get it?
Let’s talk products specs.
The elegantly designed Boxee Box features the following ports: HDMI 1.3, 10/100 Ethernet, 2x USB 2.0, Optical Audio (S/PDIF), and Analog Audio (RCA L/R). If all that is giving you a headache, listen here. Setup is super easy. All you have to do is plug the box’s AC adapter into the wall for power, attach the included HDMI cable to the box and your TV, and press the power button to turn it on. Resume headache, more specs: wireless 802.11n/g/b, memory card support (SD, SDHC up to 32GB, MMC); audio formats (MP3, WAV/PCM/LPCM, WMA, AIF/AIFF, AC3/AAC, OGG, FLAC, DTS, Dolby Digital/Dolby True HD), video formats (Adobe Flash 10.1, FLV/On2 VP6 (FLV/FV4/M4V), H.264 AVC (TS/AVI/MKV/MOV/M2TS/MP4), VC-1 (TS/AVI/MKV/WMV), MPEG-1 (DAT/MPG/MPEG), MPEG-2 (MPG/MPEG/VOB/TS/TP/ISO/IFO), MPEG-4 (MP4/AVI/MOV), DivX 3/4/5/6 (AVI/MKV), Xvid (AVI/MKV), WMV9 (WMV/ASF/DVR-MS)), image formats (JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP, TIFF); supported resolutions (H.264: 1080p at 30 fps, 1080i at 60 fps; WMV9/VC-1: 1080p at 30 fps, 1080i at 60 fps; MPEG4: 1080p at 30 fps, 1080i at 60 fps; MPEG2: 1080p at 30 fps, 1080i at 60 fps). When they said the Box could read “virtually any file type” they were not lying. The box is powered by the Intel Atom CE4100, Intel’s system-on-a-chip designed for TV and Internet integration. (This news was just announced today; the box was originally powered by NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 chip.) It will come packaged with a dual-sided QWERTY remote control.
So yeah, that’s a brief overview of the Boxee Box. It’s coming in November and it’ll retail for $229 MSRP. It’s up for preorder at Amazon for $199, so you’ll want to purchase it from there if you’re interested. Expect a full video review of the Boxee Box shortly after it hits the market. For now, look after the break to find a video of me talking with a Boxee rep at CES 2010 discussing the developing Boxee software. Open the gallery below to get a clear look at the Boxee UI (still in beta).