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Boxee – waste of monee…

April 22, 2011

As you know if you’ve read my history, I’m constantly looking for a better media streaming device.  There are multiple needs though – NetFlix and Amazon streaming, iTunes streaming from Apple, iTunes streaming from local iTunes servers, streaming of archived Tivo recordings (HD/SD), streaming of other archived movies, streaming of home movies (HD/SD), and then ideally pictures and music as well.

So far, no single device meets all those needs.

The Boxee Box has (had?) so much promise – a quick UI, a great history, and the ability to play nearly any media type.  So I bought one right away, and quickly realized it was a mess.  They decided to abandon their history, and tuned the box to cater to the mainstream consumer.  But with no NetFlix, iTunes, or Amazon.  Huh?   And playing any of your own media was buried in some tertiary menu.

A few updates later, and they added NetFlix, and gave us a mode to flip into focus-on-playing-my-media versus focus-on-playing-other-media.  Sort of a weird approach when this could have been handled with about 5 minutes of a good UX person, but okay, I’ll roll with it.  The problem is, the play-my-media mode is just awful.  It’s like an afterthought.  It’s like they forgot their years of work in this very area.  Things like giant scrolling menus that take forever to actually find the item you want in your collection, to painfully slow scanning of your media libraries, to horribly non-intuitive navigation and menus.

It’s like they’re trying to compete with the super-simple Roku, while still baking in all the old Boxee capabilities.  They’re sort of schizophrenic, and end up doing nothing well.

Sadly, the Boxee is still connected, but I rarely use it anymore (except to check out the latest update).  The Popcorn Hour is still my go-to device for archived video streaming, and my AppleTVv2 is the best NetFlix player out there.

I’ll still keep it connected in case they come out with an update that fixes everything, but I’m not too hopeful anymore after a series of overly hyped, under-delivered updates.

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