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What is the current consensus on the Boxee Box?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by danny_w, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. danny_w, Feb 15, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2011

    macrumors 601

    I have tried many different streaming solutions but found them all lacking in one way or another :)apple:TV is tied to iTunes, WDTV GUI is crude, Mac Mini is too expensive, etc). All of my dvd's are in video_ts format, but I can convert them to straight mkv instead (I don't want to re-enode to mp4 or whatever). I have become very frustrated overall. The WDTV is my current setup, but it is not very wife friendly at all, with its crude menus and only thumbnail support (I know there is customer sw for it but still...).

    All I want is a simple solution that is easy to manage and wife friendly, but whatever I get needs good subtitle support (either by using the subtitles on the dvd or by automatically finding and integrating the subtitles). What is the current consensus on the Boxee Box? I know it was considered very buggy when it first came out, but they just released new sw with Netflix support, so I was wondering what everybody thinks after several months, and I have not been able to find much recent information. I don't want some of the features such as social networking and such; can these features be removed from the menu? How accurate is the scraper? How easy is it to correct inaccurate scraper information? I also read somewhere that the Boxee Box does not use an IR for the remote; is this true? I would like to control it with my Harmony remote that controls everything else.

    Thanks in advance for any help.

    EDIT: I have one ordered for store pickup at Frys and may pick it up in the next few days to try it out.
  2. macrumors newbie

    I own a boxee box, an atv2, and a nettop running XBMC.

    I can't speak to the subtitles feature on the boxee, but it does a good job scraping. It only uses IMDB though, so you'll get the posters, but none of the fanart that XBMC is able to grab through other scrapers. Its easy to fix things that weren't scraped, or were labeled incorrectly. Its very easy to use, my non-techie girlfriend handles it just fine. The remote is RF though, so I don't think you'd be able to use a universal IR remote.

    I don't use any of the social networking features. I don't know if theres a way to turn them off, but they're not very intrusive.

    I've had the boxee box since it came out, and it has gotten much smoother with the various software updates. I'm happy it finally has netflix! Good luck with finding a streamer that fits your needs.
  3. macrumors 601

    Thanks for the reply. I may pick one up tonight at Frys to try it out.
  4. macrumors 65816


    I own a Apple TV 2 for the bedroom and the Boxee Box for the Media Room. The BB is a fabulous machine that plays anything you throw at it. I use it to play all my uncompressed Blu-Rays rips with HD Audio.

    Couldn't be happier.
  5. macrumors 601

    Thanks for the replies. I picked up a Boxee Box at Frys last night and have not had much time to play with it but so far it looks promising. It immediately found (or most, I didn't count) all of my video_ts rips and tagged them appropriately. Unfortunately when I went to play them some had issues with the audio cutting in/out. I tried playing some of them and stopping the movie to test to see if it would continue from where it was stopped, but with only limited success; some worked, some did not and gave a funny 3D looking box of colored squares on the screen.

    I also tried converting one movie (The Matrix 1999) to .mkv using MakeMKV (all default settings). When I started the movie it could not find any subtitles in its search, but subtitles were on by default already (I suppose from the original dvd). What is the best way on a Mac to convert video_ts to mkv with subtitles and automatic file naming (MakeMKV always names the file title00.mkv). I would like English subtitles selected by default if possible, but be able to turn them off at will.
  6. macrumors member

    Much like you, I was looking for the same thing, and came to the conclusion that there is no perfect solution out there. But on that note, I decided on using AppleTV 2 instead of BoxeeBox. I'm not going to go into it but basically to sum it up.

    To have a proper media library that works, nothing automated will work or do it for you. It just takes lots of man hours and patience. Obviously I have everything converted to m4v (720p HD or SD 480p). Which I would recommend to you regardless for a couple reasons:
    1. Playable on all latest generation apple devices
    2. Saves on space (2-5 GB Blu-ray, 500MB - 2GB DVD)

    Also with this, I've found for convenience and size the files take up in space that Dolby Digital is more then sufficient for surround sound needs. If I really want the HD sound and picture, I will just pop in the Blu-ray that I have on my shelf. But this system allows me to play my media on virtually any device, and any room of the house with the help of an AppleTV 2, but you can do the same with the BoxeeBox.

    I hope this was informative.
  7. macrumors 601

    Thanks for taking the time to reply RandomNinjaAtk. I have the older :apple:TV but not the new model (yet). What do you use to convert your media to m4v? I have all of my media currently in video_ts format. Do you add subtitles to the m4v files and how do you do it? I have had only very limited success embedding subtitles into an m4v that the :apple:TV can actually display. I have also heard that subtitles on :apple:TV2 use a very small font that is hard to read from across the room; is this still an issue? If the :apple:TV2 would work for me I would actually prefer it, but am not looking forward to the conversion process (including the subtitles which my fiancee absolutely requires).
  8. RandomNinjaAtk, Feb 16, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2011

    macrumors member

    The process is pretty straight forward:

    DVD / Blu-ray Disk -> MakeMKV -> Handbrake (mkv to m4v conversion) -> Sublur (adding artwork, media info)

    Now I don't require subtitles myself, so I have little experience with it. I know you can add subtitles after the fact using sublur, but if you original media (dvd / blu-ray) has them, usually its all carried over into the final m4v. I know there is a way to do it by other means or some disks can be tough to do, but there's a lot of information out there about it, and others are probably more informative when it comes to subtitles. But I know most of my conversions have subtitles that I can enable or disable seeing on my ATV2.
  9. macrumors 601

    Does Boxee have a specific naming convention for titles that will optimize the scanner? I am getting a lot of missed movies, many well known (Goldfinger for example). I have all of my movies titled for Plex/XBMC (Imdb title) and the scanning works well on those 2 others. Using the tiny keyboard on the back of the remote is such a pain, and a wired keyboard cable is too short (I guess I need to get an extension). Does the Boxee Box support any kind of wireless keyboard (besides the remote that is)?
  10. macrumors 601

    Well I have determined that the Boxee Box is simply not for me, and I am taking it back this afternoon. Thanks to everybody for their help. I will be sticking with a :apple:TV2 and just put up with the pain of converting my important movies; I still have a WDTV Live+ for other movies that I want to leave in vodeo_ts format if I really need them.
  11. macrumors 6502

    Tried a few and for the main room in the house we use the Boxee Box Exclusively. We have 1080p Playback of 99% of all media we download / Rip and we have Netflix and Vuduu. Hulu would be nice but thats not an issue for me I wont pay for Hulu Plus and I have Cable TV anyway.

    In our bedrooms were now using two Apple Tv2's Jailbroken with XBMC to stream itunes music and movies as well as Netflix. No Vuduu but for $99.00 we have 720p streams of all our content instantly without a wifi dongle etc...

    I have faith we will see the apple tv2 expand to 1080p as the hardware can do it right now but some things need to be worked out currently a little slow and stutter but people will figure that out I bet.

    I love the Boxee Box the scrapers help my wife out picking our shows easily..
  12. macrumors 601

    Glad it is working for you, it was just not my cup of tea. I thought I could look past the interface that looks like it was designed by a kindergartner on a bad day (why so childish?) but while the scrapers detected most of my movies they only found artwork for about 2/3 of those, even when they found ratings, synopsis, etc. Playing a movie from where you left off only worked about 1/2 of the time, although the WDTV has never had a problem with the same files. And getting it to connect to a Mac network was a nightmare that I never did figure out. Not worth it to me since it had only basic (almost hidden) music support anyway. The main reason that I tried the Boxee Box was because of their claim to find and automatically download subtitles, but I found this to be spotty at best. While I could download subtitles for all of my movies and add them as text for the :apple:TV2 I just burn them in on most movies since my fiancee is always going to need them anyway and they are much bigger and easier to read that way.
  13. fpnc, Feb 19, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2011

    macrumors 68000

    I recently purchased a Boxee Box ($190 at Fry's as a opened/returned unit -- that's all they had, about six returned units and that probably indicates something about the customer satisfaction with the Boxee Box).

    After having used it for several days I'd characterize it as a nice piece of hardware that is unfortunately burdened by some pretty buggy software (well, I guess it is also possible that the hardware is a little buggy too and the software may just be trying to work around those bugs).

    However, I'm not ready to return the unit and plan on keeping it because I can see that the Boxee Box does at least have the potential to be a good media player. When (or if) it finally gets Hulu Plus it should be a decent product, but it all depends upon whether they can fix the bugs which seem to be all too prevalent right now.

    In any case, some users will still find the Boxee Box a useful complement to the Apple TV (I guess I'm in that group), but it's probably not something for the average consumer.
  14. macrumors 601

    I think your assessment of the returns is spot on. I think most people are going to be sorely disappointed in this product at the current state of the software, and with the apparent dearth of software support. Also confusing is that the Boxee Box advertises music support but it is buried down deep in the Files section, something most users will never see in their frustration with the device; why did they choose to demote this important feature? It should be plainly accessible on the main menu IMHO. I agree it has potential, but I am not willing to wait, as I need something now. Maybe in a few years...

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