Continuing with my exploration of media streaming devices, I downloaded Boxee. Unlike the Apple TV and Roku boxes, this is software installed on a computer (although the Boxee box is supposed to be coming along any time now), and unlike Google TV, this is free.
Boxee is pretty slick, it gives you access to a lot of things like TV shows, music, and other video sources, all on demand. It also has a slew of applications that give you access to MLB.TV, Netflix, MTV music, Vimeo, Pandora radio, and a bunch of other things. Boxee is an open source project unlike the other media streaming projects. That has some advantages, the price in particular, but it also has some disadvantages too. First, there is a certain lack of expected things on there, like You Tube. Google isn’t going to give away something that might compete with its own Google TV. I’m pretty sure Apple and Roku are paying for the privledge of having You Tube on them. The other thing that really stood out was how low the video quality was when I tried to watch a few TV episodes. Even on my tiny 13″ screen, things looked pixelated and fuzzy. Can’t imagine putting that on any real TV. There were also a bunch of times when i would click on a TV show title and it would play something totally different. The phrase “You get what you pay for,” comes to mind. Paying services like Apple TV and Amazon on Demand will have a big advantage here.
The free stuff that is available on the internet via Vimeo, video podcasts, etc. did look pretty good, but it highlighted my biggest problem with Boxee, there really wan’t anything that I wanted to watch on there. I’ve had a similar issue with TV in general, the only thing I watch on TV is sports. The MLB.TV app has some appeal, it would allow me to watch virtually any baseball game during the season. The problem is that it undoubtedly of lower quality than TV. On demand isn’t really much of a benefit with sports, watching live is the way to go. Yes, it was convenient to have lots of video podcasts and other internet only content in Boxee’s interface, but I don’t watch enough of those to make it worth my while.
In short, as cool as I think this technology is, it just isn;’t for me. I’ll keep track of the developments in this area, especially in regards to sports, but I won’t be buying an Apple TV, Roku box, Boxee Box, or Google TV any time soon.