Boxee finally launches the Boxee Box

All Intel inside, well, not quite but almost

ITS BEEN SOMETHING of a ride, but Boxee has finally launched the Boxee Box by D-Link. Yes, that is indeed the official name, although we have a hard time seeing how the name of a router manufacturer is going to convince anyone to buy what’s in essence a streaming media player in a rather unusually shaped box.

So let’s start with the good news, the Boxee Box is going to retail for $199.99, that’s $100 less than the Logitech Revue with Google TV, albeit some will say it’s $100 more than the second generation Apple TV and $100 more than the Roku XD S. Considering that the core hardware is near enough identical to the Logitech Revue, we’d say it’s actually not a bad price, although it doesn’t offer some of the functionality the Logitech Revue will give you.

iFixit has kindly dismantled the Boxee Box already and it gives a good insight as to what’s inside. At the core of the Boxee Box is an Intel Atom CE4110 SoC, a model we’re not familiar with, especially as Intel only lists a CE4100, a CE4130 and finally the CE4150 which is found in the Logitech Revue. We presume the CE4110 is similar to the CE4100 in terms of functionality which means no support for AV input and a mere 200MHz graphics core, whereas the CE4150 features twice as fast graphics at 400MHz, although the actual CPU speed is the same at 1.2GHz.

The Boxee Box also contains 1GB of NAND Flash and 1GB of DDR3 RAM, the same as the Logitech Revue, although the latter also has an additional 4GB NAND Flash chip. In terms of connectivity options you get an HDMI port, optical S/PDIF out, a pair of RCA stereo jacks, a 10/100Mbit Ethernet port, a pair of USB 2.0 ports and an SD card slot. It also supports 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, but unlike the Logitech Revue, the Boxee Box appears to use a pair of antennas for MIMO support.

But the hardware isn’t really what makes the Boxee Box interesting, instead it’s the software and Boxee has quite a following thanks to its software being compatible with just about any PC, so if you don’t want to splash out $199 on a Boxee Box, you could just make your own out of an old PC you got laying around. Boxee will install on Windows, Linux and Mac OS and they even offer an iPhone app that allows you to use your phone as the remote. The Boxee Box comes with a clever, yet simple remote which has a QWERTY keyboard on the flip side.

The Boxee software is fairly straightforward in terms of use and it allows you to stream video from Netflix, Vudu, Mubi and several other services such as streaming music from Pandora. On top of that you can stream your own content over your home network or play it from a USB storage device.  The Boxee Box does of course play back 1080p content at full native resolution and this is apparently the reason why Boxee in the end went with the Intel inside solution over Nvidia’s Tegra 2, as apparently the latter suffered from issues with playback of a few HD video codecs.

The Boxee Box is on sale now in North America, most of Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand, although Europeans get stung for a steep €229 ($313) with UK buyers having to fork out £199.99 ($323) and finally Australia who gets the best deal outside of the US at AU$298 (which is about the same in US$). At $199.99 the Boxee Box seems like a pretty decent deal, but for the prices charged outside of North America, it’s hard to see it ever gaining much popularity in other regions, as the 50 percent plus price hike is more like a suppository than a bitter pill to swallow.S|A

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