Boxee – The Open Source Software, Not The Box

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I don’t watch much TV. No, that’s not some kind of elitist remark – you know, the type of comment thrown about by some who consider themselves a step above the rest. From my perspective, television actually sucks.

I’m tired of the fact that the History Channel rarely runs anything that’s remotely concerned with history. I’m tired of the fact that the Learning Channel long ago stopped pretending “learning” had anything to do with its mandate. And, that’s the short list.

Not only is television a vast wasteland, it’s become a toxic dump where morons like Charlie Sheen, and other emotionally unwell idiot actors (I’m trying to be kind here), set the standards for what supposedly passes for real life. It’s definitely not where my head is at.

Thankfully, the Internet with it’s virtually unlimited selection of educational, informational, and entertainment packages to choose from, helps to fill the “wasteland” gap admirably.

Generally, I find myself watching Internet entertainment on my wide screen LCD display, which is in reality, a high-definition display. Sitting at my desk however, is not quite as comfortable as I’d like – so for months, I’ve been on the hunt for a free application which will seamlessly connect Internet output to my television. Gotta sit in that easy chair – don’t ya know.

I think I’ve finally found it in Boxee. Boxee is an open source social-media application (Windows, Linux and Mac compatible), which allows users to stream content from both the Internet, and their personal home media, to a TV – from a simple package.

Step One:

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Graphic courtesy of Boxee.

Step Two:

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Graphic courtesy of Boxee.

Step Three:

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Graphic courtesy of Boxee.

Firing up the application:

On first launch, you will have to set up an account and sign in. Here’s why, according to the developer –

Boxee is meant to be social – not just with friends online, but also with people in your house. With this in mind we designed Boxee with multiple user accounts so that your social network, favorite TV shows and apps remain personalized and accessible only to you.

OK, that sounds sensible.

All of the following screen captures can be expanded to their original size by clicking.

The interface could do with a “facelift” – if you’ll pardon the expression. Nevertheless, it’s relatively functional, straight forward, and simple to use.

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Changing the settings is fairly simple, and the user can easily customize the application to meet specific needs.

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Adding apps to the application couldn’t be easier, and it expands the range of possibilities dramatically. The apps (for my purposes), are a lifesaver.

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In the following illustration, I’ve clicked on the installed CNET app.

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The video output from CNET (screen shot from my Monitor), really is 1080 HD. Crystal clear.

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The CineTrailer app (installed for this test), is illustrated below.

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Screen capture (in 1080 HD), from the Green Lantern trailer. Impressive.

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Shakira video running through the YouTube app. Love Shakira!

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Since I missed the national news last night, I added the CBC News app in order to catch up.

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Screen shot from the news showing the turmoil of the Vancouver riot.

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A very handy File Browser is part of the package.

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System requirements: Windows, Mac, Linux

Download at: Boxee

So that you can get the best out of this free software, I recommend that you checkout the Boxee Software User Guide.

Perhaps the most important Boxee software question – are there monthly fees to use Boxee?

Boxee does not charge you any monthly fees, but some premium applications accessible through Boxee require a fee.

I’ve been using Boxee for only a few days (I haven’t run an HDMI cable yet – maybe this weekend), and I’m sure I have much more to discover – but, to this point I’m liking what I’m seeing.

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7 Comments

Filed under Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, High Definition Video Players, Interconnectivity, Internet Radio, Internet TV, Linux, Mac, Multimedia Tools, Software, Streaming Media Applications, Video Apps, Windows Tips and Tools

7 responses to “Boxee – The Open Source Software, Not The Box

  1. Michael Fisher

    Hi there Bill. I love this article. TV does indeed suck, but unlike you, I AM an elitist – I can almost hear my brain cells go ‘snap, crackle, pop’ when I flick through the TV channels

    I’m sold. I will follow your lead when I’ve finished building my new system. I’ve had all the components for three weeks except the case (a long story – like building your own home & the bricks supplier loses your order)

    Your choice of ‘channels’ (if that’s the word) looks very interesting & wonderfully ‘non-fluffy’…

    Can you email me a list of links to your favourite channel choices (or publish here) ?
    What have you done regarding a remote control ?

    Cheers !

    P.S. That Shakira woman seems very ‘educational’. I will investigate further

    • Hi Michael,

      An elitist, eh? And here I thought you were just a regular upper crust guy. 🙂

      Good analogy on the bricks supplier – I’m unfortunately familiar with that feeling.

      So far, I’ve barely scratched the surface with this app – so I’m hesitant to throw out advice. But, I’ll make you a deal – I’ve planned a shopping junket to the store for next weekend (a 25 foot HDMI cable to reach the TV set, a remote, a replacement Laptop (sigh) and some odds and sods), following which, I’ll put up a part two on this app.

      By all means checkout Shakira – she adds new mean to “shake those hips”.

      Have a great weekend.

      Best,

      Bill

  2. Mal

    Hey Bill,
    Looks excellent, will give it a spin.
    You’re right, television is boring. And what makes me real mad is when our pay tv here decided it was ok to start running commercials. I pay to look at ads!!! Please. And last night I saw an episode of Cops for about the fifth time. Really pisses me off.
    Cheers

    • Hey Mal,

      Man do I hear ya. Repeat after me – you will like this repeat – you will like this repeat – you will like this repeat – you will like this repeat ………. And, the bitter pill we’re forced to swallow is – the outrageous price! But, your guys are really pushing the envelope – commercials on pay! That’s insulting.

      Spend some time with this app – you’ll find it worthwhile. I forgot to mention to Michael (but, he’ll pick it up here) apparently a Wi-Fi mouse makes a great remote. Truth is – I often use my wireless mouse to control video content on my machine while relaxing on the couch. Haven’t tried that with this app yet.

      Have a great weekend.

      Best,

      Bill

  3. Pingback: Boxee – The Open Source Software, Not The Box | Bill Mullins … - Web Connected TV | Web Connected TV

  4. g

    I have a few drama shows I watch (about 6), the Golf Channel, and the nightly local news. I have figured out how to watch everything I want on the computer but my only problem is my internet speed at home is only 1.5 down. So I’m stuck with TV for now. I can’t wait until the day I can disconnect the tv cord!

    Life in the sticks.