Last night, Boxee and D-Link unveiled the Boxee Box with Boxee 1.0 at Irving Plaza in New York, and buyers are bound to be happy with some of the new features.
Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first: they’ve announced that both Netflix and Hulu plus are coming soon to the box! The interface for each of them will likely be in app format, so navigation will be smoother than, say, visiting a web browser (which you can now also do on the Box, but more on that later). I know some people were holding off on making the purchase until they heard word on Netflix, so breathe easy. It’s not available just yet, but it’s coming by the end of the year.
With the new version of the software, some significant changes were made to the UI, including a simplified home screen and modified menu options. From the home screen, users can input their Twitter and Facebook information to get feeds of their friends’ viral videos and add video clips from their library or searches to their Watch Later list (think Netflix instant queue). Navigation is easy from the home screen, and most subcategories can be accessed without having to switch screens.
I really like the search feature, which gives you results not only from your library, but also from internal apps, your external storage, and the internet as a whole. As company founder Avner Ronen describes the search experience, if you can find it on the web, you can watch it.
Boxee also demoed their beta Webkit browser, which seems a little counterintuitive when considering their normal movement away from browser-based viewing like that in YouTube and Hulu. But, since cursor control is accomplished by using the directional arrows on the remote, it’s obvious that the browser isn’t intended as the main interface. For those who can’t seem to live without the actual internet, well… it’s there for you.
If you’re a developer, you’ll be happy to know that you can submit your own apps, and in HTML5 too! This broadened compatibility extends to the types of files you’ll be able to play on the Boxee Box. It supports a ton of them, not limited to, but including MKV, SSA, PGS, AC3, VC1, TS, H264, FLV, ASS, AVI, OGG, ISO, M2TS, VOB, SRT, AAC, and FLAC. No more errors when you’re trying to watch your stuff! Speaking of apps, some noteworthy new apps available include Vevo and Vice Magazine, both on display last night.
In general, Boxee 1.0 looks great, and the Boxee Box is compact and feature-rich. They’re available now in 33 countries. Stay tuned for Cali’s in-depth review as soon as she unpacks hers!