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View Full Version : Holiday shopping - ATV2 or Boxee?




dburney
Nov 11, 2010, 11:20 AM
Oh man, I just read up a bit on Boxee due to the hoopla from yesterday's launch event (link) (http://www.engadget.com/2010/11/10/live-from-the-boxee-box-launch-event/). I'll be the first to express my love for Apple products, the engineering, the design and the simplicity - but man, Boxee certainly seems to be the box we've all been waiting for. Even those hacking the ATV2 are mostly adding features that are already in the Boxee. But does that make it worth the extra $99? I'm not sure.

So I turn to those of you with a ATV2 to find out. Here's my plan and my needs, I'm pretty sure the ATV2 fits the bill, but we'll see.

I have my soon-to-be replaced iMac in my office, as well as my big LCD and PS3. I have a ton of media that I plan to or already have ripped to my iMac. When I upgrade I plan to move all my media (pics, movies, music) to an external drive, possibly NAS or RAID (or both if I can get a Drobo). This media is shared with the PS3 and will be shared with the TV in the living room once I pick up my ATV or Boxee.

My main goal is Netflix streaming for the living room. We sold our Wii recently, and that was how we were consuming most of our non-Cable related media. When the ATV2 was announced it seemed like the obvious choice, I'll have my iTunes library on the ready and my Netflix access. Up to this point, I haven't used iTunes to manage video, it's not something I look forward to, but for the ATV2, I'd have to give in. My iTunes library is already pretty large (80GB+) and on my current iMac, it loads and saves very slow. This may not be an issue when I upgrade, but I just have never been fond of the way iTunes manages my video like it's audio.

Thus far the ATV2 meets my needs - but - there are some great Boxee perks. Hulu and Pandora are my main interests. I'm the only person in our family that actually listens to music as "albums" - everyone else just logs onto some online service and streams whatever they're in the mood for. My wife uses Pandora A LOT. I could see her really digging Pandora in the living room. I like to catch up on TV shows via Hulu - I can use my cable providers On-Demand service for this, but the interface is horrible, I can't stand using their On-Demand service. Hulu in the living room would give me easy access to my queue, just the things I want to watch, without the drudgery - not to mention the lack of selection - of my On-Demand service. Vudu would be the other perk. I wouldn't necessarily use it very often, but I could see where it would come in handy (between disks on netflix - new release not on-demand or watch instantly and the kids have some friends over - wouldn't mind dropping $6 in that case - would rather them be in the living room than on my PS3 anyway). Then you have the typical list of web video sites, YouTube, DailyFail, etc.

Not really enough for Boxee to win hands down, but enough to make it a contender, at least for me. Unless these features make their way onto the ATV2. I'd rather not Jailbreak my ATV if I get one, I'd hope more for an Appstore, or something similar, or some officially sanctioned add-ons that support Pandora and Hulu. But we know how locked-down Apple can be.

So, to those of you with an ATV2 - how's it going now? Have any of the tinkerers found a good way to do more than what Apple allows (besides the current massive jailbreaking/hacking effort)? If you were in the market for this same device now, would you still go with the ATV - any regrets not waiting for the Boxee? Will consumer demand push Apple to open the ATV up a bit - especially with Roku and Boxee breathing down their necks? This is, after all, the first iteration of the new device running iOS - which opens up all kinds of possibilities. But will it be this time next year before we see Apple update any of their "hobby's" capabilities or software?

Let me know your thoughts, thanks.



malikk
Nov 11, 2010, 12:28 PM
Hello,
I am having this same issue. Boxee vs. ATV. Right now I have boxee on my computer (have not fiddled too much with it though). Personally, it comes down to (for me) do i really want to spend $200 for a boxee box that allows hulu (plus i believe?) for current shows. An extra hundred from an ATV. I feel over the months (idk if by holiday season) apple will start allowing some online streaming content. I have no real basis for this fact, except that items like boxee/roku i believe etc. are starting to get hulu plus etc.

Now, I know apple doesn't bend to what people always want. But if they want more sales, i feel, eventually they will need to incorporate some type of current episode streaming. Even if it is at a small price.

I just don't see the need to spend $200 on boxee that allows netflix/media center and also allows current episodes. That is just me. I would love to be able to see current episodes on my tv (right now using cable, but I plan to move soon (out of my mom's house... just graduated college and was on a europe trip) and I don't plan on spending for cable, as all I use it for is watching current episodes. For now, I just watch them on my computer or if no option I enjoy comes about, I may just hook my computer up to my TV. Granted I do not have 5 tvs to get all my content too, but just one right now.

Idk, if this helps you at all, haha. But that is my take on it. Boxee box seems pretty neat. But since for me, netflix and watching current episodes is all that's important (along with streaming my library of videos etc. which all "set-top" players do) I can't justify getting $100 more for boxee at the moment. Maybe ATV will have some hacks that are simple and do not void the warranty to get some of these features from boxee? I know you did mention you didn't want to do that though.

My thoughts,
Qua Sar

jajohns8
Nov 11, 2010, 03:22 PM
I have an ATV first gen, and the second generation. I am also considering getting a boxee box.

I havn't made up my mind yet, but I am watching AVSforums pretty closely for the feedback from new owners on the boxee box.

If it plays my local HD content without issue, then I will lean towards getting one.

OmegaRed1723
Nov 11, 2010, 03:34 PM
It would be nice if I didnt have to rely on my Mac mini to transcode everything that I want to play on my jailbroken :apple:TV. It really isn't up to the task since the ffmpeg decoder doesn't use hardware acceleration. I love Plex, but depending on what the consensus is on the new Boxee Box, I may have to change allegiances.

Microsaft
Nov 11, 2010, 04:23 PM
I have an ATV (first gen) with aTV flash installed (but without Crystal HD card). With that hd-card installed, the first generation ATV is a streaming monster. BUT: XBMC doesn't run very smooth (general interface) and there still are some issues with specific formats. (And without running linux the output resolution is still limited (720p)).

That is why I will give boxee box a try. If I don't like it, the last option might be a Mac Mini...

lucidmedia
Nov 11, 2010, 09:43 PM
If you are looking for a box that does Netflix and hulu plus, how about the Roku. Dependiong on the config, its either the same price or cheaper than the ATV.

HuluPlus will launch on the Roku "any day now"... its already in the main menu.

zhenya
Nov 12, 2010, 04:41 AM
I've used Boxee on my HTPC for the past couple of years, and have just picked up an AppleTV that I hope to use as its replacement. Boxee has been the best front end I've found for my pc-based HTPC, but I'm still not thrilled with it. There is just too much junk content included, and while it is flexible with the video formats it plays, I never found the experience of setting it up or browsing that content to be all that great. So far my take of the AppleTV is that if the limited content that it offers appeals to you, the much simpler interface is a huge UI benefit.

Note that assuming you or your wife have an iDevice, she can start Pandora on that device, and broadcast it to the AppleTV, which is going to be much more user friendly than having to turn on the Tv, navigate to Pandora in Boxee, etc. For that matter you can stream almost any content from an iDevice to the new AppleTV - audio or video. This was ultimately the biggest draw for me. Obviously you aren't going to get Hulu, but you do get video rentals, which might suffice - especially as Hulu is moving (gone?) to a monthly payment scheme.

dburney
Nov 12, 2010, 08:32 AM
Thanks for all the comments. Definitely some food for thought. We're still several weeks away from a decision, so I'll keep my eyes open for first impressions from Boxee users as well.

I'm not really interested in Hulu Plus (yet) - I just want to get access to what I view on Hulu. I may download and play with the Boxee software a bit just to get a feel for the navigation, etc. I hate to disregard the Roku, but there's just something about it - the box design, the remote, the interface - I guess I'm just a design snob when it comes to that stuff, but it's never really been a serious contender. But I'll give their site a thorough read before making a final decision.

Keep posting your comments! Thanks.

newagemac
Nov 12, 2010, 09:18 AM
I've used Boxee on my HTPC for the past couple of years, and have just picked up an AppleTV that I hope to use as its replacement. Boxee has been the best front end I've found for my pc-based HTPC, but I'm still not thrilled with it. There is just too much junk content included, and while it is flexible with the video formats it plays, I never found the experience of setting it up or browsing that content to be all that great. So far my take of the AppleTV is that if the limited content that it offers appeals to you, the much simpler interface is a huge UI benefit.

Note that assuming you or your wife have an iDevice, she can start Pandora on that device, and broadcast it to the AppleTV, which is going to be much more user friendly than having to turn on the Tv, navigate to Pandora in Boxee, etc. For that matter you can stream almost any content from an iDevice to the new AppleTV - audio or video. This was ultimately the biggest draw for me. Obviously you aren't going to get Hulu, but you do get video rentals, which might suffice - especially as Hulu is moving (gone?) to a monthly payment scheme.


^^^ What he said. If your wife likes Pandora, there is no better way to experience it than using Airplay to stream it from your iOS device to your TV and home stereo. The user interface of the iOS app and how that works for searching, browsing, and selecting music compared to trying to do it directly on the TV with built in TV or media center device apps just can't be beat. Airplay wins hands down.

I originally thought the Apple TV needed a built in Pandora app, but it's becoming very apparent that having the actual app on the iOS device and just Airplaying it to the TV is a far better user experience. I guess if you don't have an iOS device you would be more inclined to favor a box that includes things like Pandora and Hulu as a built in app but Airplay really is giving the Apple TV a unique advantage among its competitors. There's just no way an app on a TV screen 10 feet away that you have to control with a remote or keyboard is going to be as easy and enjoyable than using a well designed iPhone or iPad app mere inches from you face you can manipulate with your fingers.

dburney
Nov 15, 2010, 09:14 AM
The AirPlay route is a great idea. One I hadn't thought of - of course now I read that it only supports iPhone 4 (which my wife has, I have a 3G though). Not a dealbreaker by any means.

I've also spent some time playing with a local install of Boxee - definitely not as user-friendly on the UI part. It isn't horrible - but not quite as intuitive as the ATV. I think my wife and kids would just pick up the ATV and go - I'd have to show them how the Boxee works. I also agree that most of the content is fluff - so what are you really paying that extra $99 for?

Rkelac
Nov 15, 2010, 11:51 AM
^^^ What he said. If your wife likes Pandora, there is no better way to experience it than using Airplay to stream it from your iOS device to your TV and home stereo. The user interface of the iOS app and how that works for searching, browsing, and selecting music compared to trying to do it directly on the TV with built in TV or media center device apps just can't be beat. Airplay wins hands down.


Does Pandora actually work with Airplay? On an iPad, Pandora doesn't give you an option for Airplay. Is there something I'm not doing?

zhenya
Nov 15, 2010, 12:26 PM
Does Pandora actually work with Airplay? On an iPad, Pandora doesn't give you an option for Airplay. Is there something I'm not doing?

Pandora will have to update their app for full compatibility, but currently on iOS 4.2 you can double click the home button, slide to the right to bring up the Pandora controls, and there you will get the button to choose what speakers to use.

UnseenLlama
Nov 15, 2010, 01:29 PM
Pandora will have to update their app for full compatibility, but currently on iOS 4.2 you can double click the home button, slide to the right to bring up the Pandora controls, and there you will get the button to choose what speakers to use.

The Airplay button shows within the Pandora app for me. I use it to stream with bluetooth when I'm in my car, and over wifi to the AppleTV in my living room.

filfortugno
Nov 15, 2010, 01:35 PM
ps3 is the only three characters you need, stream most codecs and containers, netflix native, 160 gb hdd or more, and play games.
enough said

zhenya
Nov 15, 2010, 01:41 PM
The Airplay button shows within the Pandora app for me. I use it to stream with bluetooth when I'm in my car, and over wifi to the AppleTV in my living room.

Interesting. Wonder why it is not showing up in the main app for me?

ps3 is the only three characters you need, stream most codecs and containers, netflix native, 160 gb hdd or more, and play games.
enough said

Can PS3 stream my itunes library with virtually no configuration? Does the ps3 cost $99?

Thanks, but not thanks.

Paul S
Nov 15, 2010, 03:29 PM
Seriously, how is the PS3 even in this thread? If I want an overpriced, oversized box, crappy UI and plays soon-to-be-extinct BlueRay, I'll pick one up. Oh, but it comes with a glow ball magic wand??!!

Moving on---So if I have Hulu Plus on my iPad, I can just use that to stream to my ATV2? Awesome. OP, no brainer---ATV2 wins in your case.

Rkelac
Nov 15, 2010, 04:27 PM
The Airplay button shows within the Pandora app for me. I use it to stream with bluetooth when I'm in my car, and over wifi to the AppleTV in my living room.

I still only have 4.2 B2. This must have been corrected in the later versions of 4.2.

zhenya
Nov 15, 2010, 04:39 PM
I still only have 4.2 B2. This must have been corrected in the later versions of 4.2.

I'm on the latest GM and it does not show up in the Pandora app for me.

mjaco002
Nov 15, 2010, 04:50 PM
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_0 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/532.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.5 Mobile/8A293 Safari/6531.22.7)

Similar Question...I have huge amount of pics, music, movies and Tv shows on my two external HDD...these two HDD are connected to my Airport Extremeand the contents of this can be accessed by just login in to my wifi through my MacBook Pro or anyother PC/Mac...All my music is located in iTunes n all my pics are located in iPhoto...and all my movies & tv show...well they are housed in folders...

Now my question is which one is better...ATV2 or Boxee for me to stream my content to my TV without the need for me to keep my MacBook turned on...I know the obvious choice would be to airplay all my content to ATV...but that would require me to keep my MacBook turned on...also it does mean that I will not be able to use iOS decive

So if you have any suggestion on which one of these would solve my problem it will be greatly appreciated...

netdog
Nov 15, 2010, 04:52 PM
AirPlay should be out any day now, so wait to see what one can actually do with it.