Boxee made an announcement this week that makes the idea of ditching cable service for Internet-distributed video a much more tempting proposition. The announcement was a twofer: a new version of their software that provides a cable-box-like interface for Internet video and new hardware that will run it. As we reported last summer, Boxee isn't the only player in this emerging market; last summer both Hulu and YouTube rolled out new interfaces that make browsing their content on your TV from a couch a lot easier.
Boxee has been a favorite by many because it's not tied to a specific content provider. Here is a quick review of what Boxee does: Boxee will let you browse content from any Internet video provider like CNN, Netflix, Blip.tv, YouTube
etc. (unless they block them like Hulu did, famously last summer
.) From the beginning Boxee not only lets you browse content online but also any movies, music and photos that are stored on your computer. It also includes social features like allowing you to friend other Boxee users and share favorites and recommend content to them.
|Screenshot of the new Boxee Beta (click for larger view)|The new Boxee beta, announced this week with an updated Interface that makes navigation and browsing content easier, isn't available to the general public just yet. They're letting a new group of select users try it out every week until it's big public launch at CES, the big consumer electronics show in Vegas next month. You can sign up to be one of these users here.
|The front of the new Boxee Box (click for larger view)|
|Rear view of the new Boxee Box (click for larger view)|
Boxee's new hardware, called the Boxee Box
which was also unveiled this week, is a unique looking component designed to allow you to use Boxee on your TV without a computer. It has connections for HDMI, WiFi, optical audio, ethernet, RCA Audio, USB Ports, SD Cart Slot and an RF Remote. It's just the latest set-top box to help you get Internet distributed video on to your TV and it's not likely to be the last.
There's also Apple TV that officially only plays free or purchased content from iTunes (Apple TV
can be hacked to run Boxee, too) and the Roku Box
released last year that provides content from Netflix, Amazon
, and Pandora
. Boxee says their box will be available sometime next year.