Boxee Box Debuts in a Packed Internet-Connected Set-Top Box Field
Just like Google TV, the Boxee Box lets you stream Internet video content, browse the Web, access your favorite social networks, and use premium services such as NHL GameCenter and Netflix (coming soon).
Before it was a set-top box, Boxee was a piece of software that you installed on your Mac or PC and then hooked up to your television to stream content. Now the company is getting into the growing, and competitive, market of Internet-connected television devices. The Boxee Box was supposed to launch during the first six months of 2010, but the company failed to meet that deadline. It's not clear why the Boxee Box was delayed, although Engadget reports that the company said its plans to launch before summer were "overly ambitious."
The big question now is with so many big names competing for the top spot in your living room, does Boxee stand a chance? Let's take a look at what some of the more popular set-top boxes are currently offering, including the Google TV-based Logitech Revue, Roku and Apple TV.
Netflix video streaming is quickly becoming the gold standard for watching online video to your television. It's incredibly popular (Netflix has more than 16 million members in the United States and Canada), offers thousands of streaming titles and is available on all kinds of devices including Blu-ray disc players, gaming consoles, HDTVs and set-top boxes.
The Boxee Box won't ship with Netflix, but the company says users should expect to see it before the end of 2010. The Roku, Google TV, and Apple TV all have Netflix streaming.
Hulu's premium product is also becoming a popular way to stream the latest episodes of your favorite TV shows as well as a relatively small library of movies. The feature is coming soon to the Roku box, but is not available on Apple TV (iTunes does offer 99-cent TV episode rentals) or Google TV. Boxee says it is working to bring Hulu Plus to the Boxee Box.
If you want to browse the Web on your TV while sitting on your couch, then you'll be looking at the Boxee Box or Google TV. Apple TV and Roku don't offer any Web browsing capabilities.
Stream your content
Planning on torturing the neighbors with pictures from your holiday in Italy? Then you'll need an Apple TV or Boxee box to view photos and video stored on your computer at home. If you want to see them on Flickr or Facebook, then Google TV and Roku will also get the job done.
If you want to add content or functionality to your Internet-connected TV, then you're looking at Roku and Google TV. Both offer add-on services: Google through the Android Market; Roku has its own store for what it calls channels such as MLB.TV, Ultimate Fighting Championship, Amazon Video On Demand and Pandora Internet radio.
Apple TV is based on iOS and one hacker proved recently that the device is capable of running apps. It's unclear whether Apple plans on opening up this functionality to users.
Who will win?
It's getting to be a hot Internet-connected TV world out there, and no one appears to be a big winner, yet. But with big guns such as Apple, Google and even Microsoft (Xbox 360 functionality is always growing) getting serious about Internet on your TV, do the little guys like Boxee and Roku stand a chance? Perhaps. Roku already has a devoted following, and the new Apple TV is basically a Roku imitator. Well, at least for now.
But it remains to be seen whether Boxee has the staying power to go up against Apple, Google and Microsoft. All three companies have money to burn if it becomes necessary just to stay in the Internet TV game, but can Boxee do the same? Probably not, but if Boxee can get Hulu Plus before it lands on Google TV, the Boxee Box just might have a fighting chance.
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