Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Boxee Box Soon to Feature Vudu and Netflix

On Friday, December 31, Boxee announced that it has had to delay the release of Vudu and Netflix on its Boxee Box until later in January. The company had been saying that they would release the services by the end of the year, but obviously that hasn’t happened.

So, some people may be confused and ask: what is Boxee? According to the Boxee website, “Boxee is the best way to watch movies, TV shows and clips from the Internet on your TV.” Of course, a device is necessary for you to use Boxee’s services to perform all of these actions. They continued saying, “You can buy a device powered by Boxee or build your own Boxee using a new or used computer.”
A Boxee Box is defined on the Boxee website as “the first major device powered by Boxee on the market. It’s an all-in-one box specialized to run Boxee and it comes with a useful QWERTY remote -- all eliminating the need to use a computer to run Boxee on your TV.”

Boxee chief executive Avner Ronen apologized to Boxee users about the delay of Vudu and Netflix services via a blog post starting with, “We’re sorry that VUDU and Netflix will not be available on the Boxee Box until January.” Ronen continued saying, “I know many users will be upset. I am disappointed that we couldn't make it happen in time for the end of the year. However, I'd ask that you put your faith in us.”

"While both services are up and running in our offices on the Boxee Box, we need some more time to test each application to make sure they are ready for launch," he continued.

Fortunately, the company says that Vudu should be available sometime this week, but a “brand new version” of Netflix is not set to be released until the end of January now.

"I'd like to think you chose Boxee because we offer something different, in our approach, in our commitment, in our passion, in the way we communicate (whether its good stuff or bad), and in how quickly we move on the stuff that matters most to our users," Ronen wrote.

The Boxee Box first started shipping in early November. At that time, services like Netflix, Vudu, and Hulu Plus were all missing from the lineup of services. Now, obviously, Vudu will be available in the next few days and Netflix is on the way, but there has been no set date for when Hulu Plus will be made available on the Boxee Box. Boxee has said that they are currently working with Hulu, but so far there is not a firm date. Unfortunately, the December firmware update didn’t really provide any answers for Boxee users either.

The December update did, however, fix a few bugs and add a few new features. Some of the added features included the ability to scroll through files now organized A-to-Z, an option to enable hourly scans of connected content (like USB content), more filters and browsing options to assist with searches, and new adjustments that the user can utilize to improve visibility when they are wearing 3D glasses.

As I mentioned, the update also fixed quite a few bugs that plagued the Boxee Box. It’s a very long list of fixes, but it included fixing issues that popped up concerning hidden wireless networks, fixing the aspect ratio of DVD playback, and fixing de-interlacing problems that occurred when watching 1080i content.

Ronen wrapped up the blog post saying, “Looking back at 2010, it’s hard to believe so much has happened in just 12 months. We are going to be at the CES Show next week and are really excited about 2011. For us it’s going to be about continuing to improve the Boxee software, getting Boxee on additional devices, bringing more content (both in the US and internationally) and making Boxee available on more screens.”

The Boxee Box is currently available for $199 at Amazon.com, Boxee.tv, and various other sites.

I believe that Boxee might have had some issues when it first released the Boxee Box and even now, due to the fact that the device didn’t feature several of the main services that other providers like Apple TV and Logitech’s Revue with Google TV already had. I think they should definitely do much better when these services are added to the Boxee Box. Hopefully, that won’t be too much longer.

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