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D-Link Boxee Box Review

By on January 26, 2011
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It has the potential to become the best Media Center.

Good: Simple and beautiful interface, awesome looking box and easy to use
Bad: A bit pricey, isn't a fully mature solution with frequent crashes
Price: AED 1000
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

I’ve been following up on the D-Link Boxee Box for a very long time- almost ever since it was announced over a year back. After many delays and a hardware switch, the box was finally released a couple of months back. Luckily, I found one at the local Sharaf DG store and picked it up without thinking twice. Before I get into the details, let me explain what Boxee is to the uninitiated.

Back in the days, computers were mainly used for serious stuff but with the popularity of digital media- as in pictures, movies and songs, we suddenly saw an explosion in creation and consumption of fun-stuff on our computers. We started taking loads of pictures with our digital cameras, share videos we laughed at on you tube, subscribed to podcasts that talked about tech or gaming or whatever else we were passionate about and fill our iPods with our favorite tunes. The problem was that we were doing all this on a 20” monitor when, really, this is stuff that is worthy of our 40”+ high definition TV.

And thus, Media Centers were born. Initially, Media Centers were more or less full-fledged PCs connected to our TVs. But as technology evolved, we realized that we should separate content from the players allowing for small form factor devices such as Apple TV or WD TV Live in our living rooms that could stream or pull content from our computers or hard drives or even the Internet. The Boxee box is one such device. But before the box existed, Boxee has been available as an application for your computer and its beautiful and simple interface along with its integration of online and offline media made it the darling of many.

So technically, the Boxee Box really is a tiny PC running the Boxee application. If you check out its specs, you will find that it is based on the Intel Atom CE4100 Processor which is a media processor designed to be used in devices like the Boxee box and Google TV. One of the reasons that the Boxee Box got so delayed is because it was initially supposed to use NVIDIA Tegra 2 instead of the Intel CE4100 but internal testings suggested that the Tegra 2 was not powerful enough to provide the end-user experience that Boxee wanted for its consumers. That’s about as much as a general consumer really wants to know about Boxee being a PC because they really won’t ever notice or even consider the Boxee Box to be a PC.

Obviously, the main reason for that is that the D-Link Boxee Box looks unlike any PC you’ve seen. The cubic design with a slit at the bottom looks extremely cutting edge and the boxee logo that lights up when the device is powered gives it a very futuristic look. I really like the clean look that boxee chose for their box. There is a power button on top that is hidden within the design and an SD slot on the right that you won’t notice unless an SD card is inserted and the light next to it comes on.

All other connections are on the back side and I really like the options that Boxee provides. Starting off, you have an HDMI port which will be the primary source of connection to your TV for almost everyone. For audio, you have the option of using analog RCA outputs or the digital TOSLink connector. Other than the A/V connections, you have two USB ports that can be used to attach hard drives or even an iR receiver (more on that later) as well as a network port for wired access to your network and the Internet. For those that prefer wireless connectivity, the 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi is built on the boxee box as well.

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About

Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of tbreak.com and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

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