I’m a little late to the game for recommending Boxee since it’s no longer officially supported, but since I’ve been a dedicated user for these past few years, I figure I can at least talk about it a bit while I decide what to do next. Boxee is a home theater application that allows you to watch various tv shows and movies, online and from local sources, all from one interface. The application is free to install, but as of January 2012 it is no longer being supported because the company has gone into the hardware game.
You can now purchase a Boxee Box that runs their software on it. I’m still running the application on a cheap Dell Hybrid running 64 bit Windows 7 on it and will probably do so for awhile as it serves my purpose just fine. I’ve got my computer under the TV hooked up to a Drobo where I have all of my local tv, movie, and family video files. I just tell Boxee to look for the drive I have mapped to my Drobo media and it not only finds it, but will gather and attach metadata for what it finds. (ex: dvd cover, movie synposis, tv episode summary, etc.) I can even set how often to have it poll my data for new stuff I’ve added.
It’s been an ideal situation for me as I seldom stream shows from the internet. I’m more interested in a neat little way to organize what I’ve got in my personal collection for easy viewing. I can get a little OCD about watching episodes of TBBT over and over again, but hey, Earl’s been cancelled for nearly three years and I had pretty much worn out those files by then anyway.
There are a few things about Boxee that always bothered me, so perhaps whatever I move on to next will be an improvement in these areas.
- I purchased the D-Link Boxee Remote and it’s great except for one thing. You can’t launch the Boxee application. Every time I want to switch to Boxee, I need to launch it from the desktop with a mouse first.
- If I leave the application running and not being used, the resources it uses still seems to creep up over time until my computer fan is screaming loudly at me. Perhaps this wouldn’t be an issue if I had a beefier computer, but if my computer doesn’t struggle while i’m using the app, why does it when I’m not?
- There wasn’t any support for the organization of personal files. You could always drill down to your personal files and view them through Boxee, but there was nothing specific for personal video like there was for tv and movies. It would have been nice for the app to thumbnail your videos, pull a title from the file name, and place them in their own area.
Even with those few things, I’m still going to have a hard time adopting something new. I’ve really become accustomed to using this interface, and I know my girlfriend will be lost trying to learn something new. I fully anticipate getting one of those glazed over looks when I start to teach her how to use our next media manager.
You have to be signed up at Boxee.tv to download the software, but I’ll make it available in the downloads section here on the site if anyone is still interested in trying it out. In the meantime, I have to figure out what to try next. I’ve heard Plex is nice, and I’ve heard decent things about XMBC in which Boxee is a fork of, so there doesn’t seem to be any lack of options. If anyone has any others they think are worthy of testing out, I’d be curious to hear what has worked for you.