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#339358 - 11/11/2010 02:20 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: Dignan]
hybrid8
carpal tunnel

Registered: 12/11/2001
Posts: 7738
Loc: Toronto, CANADA
Here's an answer to a sensible question from their Q&A after the event (for which the live stream failed miserably):

Quote:
8:41PM Multiple Facebook and Twitter accounts? "I guess more than one Facebook account is kind of freakish. We don't support it."


I guess they think only single geeks will buy their product, not anyone with a family who might be interested in having multiple people's social networks connected at the same time. wink

BTW, they also removed the Photos and Music functionality from the main menu and tossed it into the Files category.

They thanked Intel and a couple of other corporates but didn't thank XBMC and the rest of the open source software. It's pretty much the backbone of this thing, and by far the most difficult part of the pie to develop from a software perspective.

I think the new UI puts the sub-menu stuff above the content, which on a widescreen display doesn't make much sense. I really liked how the optional stuff could be scrolled off to the left in the beta UI. IMO, radically changing the UI after launching the box is a bit of a bait and switch. They really should have rolled the new UI into a beta back in August to have had enough time to properly test it.

With only two rows and 4 columns, we're now only able to see 8 movie covers instead of the previous 15. Maybe there will be a setting for this (doubt it).

Positive comments now.. In the movie descriptions on the one screen shot it now shows the year and director listed ABOVE the synopsis and it now finally shows the cast too. Very welcome change IMO.

Hopefully we'll eventually be able to search by director and cast member. I'd also like to see some marker that says what format/resolution a particular movie is in. At least being able to identify between 720, 1080 and 480.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't go to crap. Firmware updates are mandatory.
_________________________
Bruno
Twisted Melon : Fine Mac OS Software

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#339384 - 11/11/2010 19:23 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: hybrid8]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11922
Loc: Sterling, VA
I got my Boxee Box! I'm really going to need to take a while to get to know this device before I give a proper impression. I can certainly say that this is NOT the box for the average consumer. To them I still say "get the Roku, or if you have a lot in iTunes, get an AppleTV." The Boxee Box is simply too difficult to start using (hell, I'm having my own difficulties with it). But that might be due to what I want to do with it, which is watch my own content. If you just wanted to watch the random stuff them have ready for you, I guess it's kind of easy to use.

Question for you, Bruno: do you know of a way to watch Youtube in a normal way? All I can find is Youtube Leanback which I DESPISE. You launch it and it immediately starts playing a random video that you can't pause, even to let the buffer catch up. It's maddening. And there's no way to see my favorites and such. I really hate it.

Also, I'm missing that menu that would come up when you scrolled over to the left while looking at movies or TV shows. That menu let me change the sort order of my shows. By default, it lists TV episodes in reverse chronological order, which I don't want, and it doesn't look like I can change that!

*edit*

ps- It's still very slow when creating its database. It's been about 90 minutes now and it's not done making its way through 45 movies and 6 TV shows...


Edited by Dignan (11/11/2010 19:32)
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Matt

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#339386 - 11/11/2010 22:10 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: Dignan]
hybrid8
carpal tunnel

Registered: 12/11/2001
Posts: 7738
Loc: Toronto, CANADA
Matt, I still haven't played with the new UI. I was afraid I was also going to really miss the left menu - it was probably the smartest options menu I've ever seen implemented on any device. I could tune up the navigation of the remote buttons, but other than that, the concept was sound. I'm actually pissed off I didn't think of it first since it's even better than what I had thought up when I was designing this type of product. I think what they have now might be closer to what I had originally come up with for options setting.

Are you scanning over a network (wired or wireless)? Or directly connected USB drive?

Last night I set my friend's system up with a directly connected USB drive and it was pretty slow-going, but it had indexed some 300 movies in maybe an hour. What I really want to know is where it's saving all the information it's indexing.... If you unplug the drive for a day, add a couple of movies and then plug it back, how long will it take for the new content?

Unfortunately I'm not going to have time to play with it tomorrow. My place is an utter disaster zone right now and tomorrow night we have a visitor from the Netherlands and on Sunday we have my parents coming to stay with us for two weeks to help take care of our daughter while our daycare person is away on holidays. So I need to make myself really busy tomorrow cleaning and setting up a bunch of stuff. Plus moving all the boxes I just picked up from the US today... My DVDO, full PSB Imagine surround speaker set and a few other toys including my new URC MX-980 remote. wink I'm finally going to be able to stop using that POS Harmony 880. Phew.


Edited by hybrid8 (11/11/2010 22:11)
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Bruno
Twisted Melon : Fine Mac OS Software

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#339402 - 12/11/2010 15:27 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: hybrid8]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11922
Loc: Sterling, VA
Early impressions of the Boxee Box are not good, IMO. I'm a little worried here.

I figured out how to control Youtube Leanback, which I still hate because it just starts playing random videos whether you want it to or not, so the first thing I have to do when I launch it is find the pause button. But the pause button is not the play/pause button on the remote. No, that would make too much sense. I have to press up or down on the remote to bring up the playback controls, and then find the pause button there.

I understand why this is the case - Youtube Leanback is not a Boxee app, it's merely a web page, and it has to use that interface. But to the user, you don't really see that. What you see is when you press the pause button on the remote, it says something like "this video cannot be paused," which isn't true but makes things VERY confusing, even to a user like me.

Bruno, you mentioned how you didn't like how when you look at shows stored locally, it also shows you episodes available on the web. I didn't like that either. But guess what, they made it worse! Yay!

Now they've separated out local and online content, but that means it takes another few clicks to get to your own stuff. One of the reasons I got rid of the WDTV was to eliminate some of those extra steps to get to my content, so this is very disappointing. Add to that that the options you had when viewing this content on pre-1.0 software is now gone, and you have a much more frustrating experience. I can't change the sort order, browse by genre, or search my own content now, and playback of local content was the entire reason I picked this device over the others.

I'm also worried by something else. There's speculations in the Boxee forums that the Box might be a tad underpowered. There is no longer background video playback, and a set of visualizations in the music player that were apparently very popular (milkdrop?) have been removed. I don't see it as too much of a problem, but it might be a concern down the road. As long as I can play 1080p content (which I can), I'll be happy.

Lastly, I tried the photo slideshow last night. My wife and I wanted to show some friends a few photos from our SF trip. This became a disaster:
  • when I navigated into a folder of photos, I got 2-3 rows of thumbnails, or what should have been thumbnails. They were just grey boxes with spinning circles in them, which I took to mean it was loading the thumbnails. But after about five minutes of waiting, not a single one had loaded, so I just picked the first file and went from there.
  • things started out okay, and the slideshow mode even did the "Ken Burns Effect" you get on Apple TV.
  • half of the photos had an annoying flickering white line on their left edge. I assume this has something to do with how the box was rendering them. The photos were rendered very well, but this flickering was extremely distracting to me. My guests didn't mention if it bothered them...
  • the worst part of the experience was if I wanted to skip a photo. If I hit the "right" button, sometimes it would go to the next photo (presumably cached), and sometimes this would bring everything to a screeching halt, and we'd be left staring at the photo I wanted to skip, which had stopped moving, and it would just sit there forever. A couple times I could get it started up again, and a couple times I could back out. But one time it just sat there, not letting me do a single thing, and I ended up having to get up and reboot the Box. This is unacceptable for a "finished" product.
  • Lastly, the Box seemed a little too slow at transmitting the data. I admit, I'm using powerline networking for this device, I haven't had any problems playing HD video at 3.5Mbps. Admittedly, the photos are around 5MB each, so at 3.5Mbps that would be about 11 seconds to transmit, but I have a feeling that my powerline adapter is going a bit faster than 3.5Mbps. So I'm still stumped.

I'm going to have to give this box a little while. I'm getting a little more "early adopter's remorse" than I usually do with this thing. There is MUCH missing from the Box:
  • There's no Netflix yet, and I don't even know if it'll be the new Netflix interface when we do get it - Google TV is shipping with the old Netflix that only shows you your instant queue
  • There's no Hulu Plus, but that doesn't bother me too much
  • Vudu isn't there yet
  • I'm hoping for a more traditional Youtube interface

Perhaps my expectations were too high. I think I'm going to have to readjust them...
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Matt

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#339405 - 12/11/2010 16:40 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: Dignan]
tonyc
carpal tunnel

Registered: 27/06/1999
Posts: 7058
Loc: Pittsburgh, PA
Wow, that's disappointing. I'm sure some of the software limitations will get better over time, but the potential of hardware limitations is definitely a bummer. You knew they weren't going to outfit these devices with high-performance chips, but really, no background playback? My six year-old Linux box running Boxee could handle background playback.

It's starting to sound like the best option for many people is going to continue to be running a Mac Mini or small form-factor Linux box running Boxee. That's kinda sad.
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- Tony C
my empeg stuff

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#339408 - 12/11/2010 18:11 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: tonyc]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11922
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: tonyc
It's starting to sound like the best option for many people is going to continue to be running a Mac Mini or small form-factor Linux box running Boxee. That's kinda sad.

And that's if the software for Boxee doesn't get f-ed up like it is. They are NOT going in the right direction here. They're clearly directing themselves at online video content, and I have big news for them: the content they're getting sucks. It just flat-out sucks.

The easiest thing to get to on the Box is the "all movies" list, which presents you with, as it claims, over 2000 films in one big alphabetical list. I checked out one or two of them, including "Big Buck Bunny." The animated short was kind of good, but not great, and when I selected it, I was actually taken to the web page that had the video on it. From there, I had to choose myself to display the video content in full screen, otherwise it was just playing in a little flash window in the middle of a full web page. So it took about 10 button presses just to watch one of these videos. That's a big failure in my book.

I'm thinking about it now, and really I think Boxee could address the majority of my complaints with one simple change: let me customize my home screen. At present, the home screen consists of five or so icons at the top, and three random videos at the bottom that I couldn't give a sh*t about and will never ever look at. The icons are the standard ones like "movies," which take you to a view like I mentioned above.

What if I could have something as simple as a customizable home screen where I could put a shortcut to places like "local Movies" and "local TV Shows," or apps like Youtube and Netflix (eventually)? That would make things much easier, and create a minimum number of button presses.
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Matt

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#339409 - 12/11/2010 18:14 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: tonyc]
tman
carpal tunnel

Registered: 24/12/2001
Posts: 5528
Originally Posted By: tonyc
It's starting to sound like the best option for many people is going to continue to be running a Mac Mini or small form-factor Linux box running Boxee. That's kinda sad.

I've only tried Boxee with a 2007 Intel Mac Mini and it was connected to a PC monitor but it sounded like a jet engine trying to take off because of the excessive CPU load of Boxee.

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#339410 - 12/11/2010 18:21 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: Dignan]
RobotCaleb
pooh-bah

Registered: 15/01/2002
Posts: 1866
Loc: Austin
Why is Boxee so exciting for you? Is it simply the online media capability? What does it offer (aside from that) over XBMC?

My last use of Boxee was very disappointing and not something I want to spend time sampling again just to see if it got better. However, I don't care about online media so much and everything I want to watch I have locally. Sure, it's only 250 bucks (or whatever) but if it's underpowered, well, you got what you paid for, right?

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#339412 - 12/11/2010 21:02 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: RobotCaleb]
hybrid8
carpal tunnel

Registered: 12/11/2001
Posts: 7738
Loc: Toronto, CANADA
Ok, I'm feeling a little surly with all this news about Boxee hacking up their UI. Lately a lot of companies have been totally screwing the pooch. SageTV for instance took a good working, but somewhat outdated UI and came out with something that just looks terrible and amateurish (as well as being a copy of an XBMC skin). My spider-sense seems to have been on the money. I said it early on... Anyone who implements a media system that doesn't ignore articles simply doesn't have their eye on the ball.

A lot of people have been complaining that this reeks of a bait-and-switch, a slap in the face of everyone who has helped beta test the software on their Mac and PCs. They had millions of dollars of capital to put the software out and this is what they have to show for all the years of development. Maybe they heated their offices with a cash-burning stove. wink

XBMC looks like crap - every single skin looks terrible. Below terrible IMO. Besides, it runs only on large, power-hungry and !LOUD! boxes.

Boxee takes the XBMC core (all the open source libraries for codec, etc) and marries it to a metadata scraping engine to pull posters and descriptions, then it (used to) roll this all up in a very concise and usable UI.

Now it sounds like they're getting rid of their biggest strength, the UI. The metadata is useless without the UI, and the codec support is absolutely trivial to support elsewhere because it's open source and even if you wanted to or needed to build a non-open product, you have a nice selection of quite powerful integrated SoC to handle every HD resolution and codec you want to throw at a box.

I need a good system for playback and display of LOCAL TV shows and movies. Hopefully something to play back home movies at some point as well, but that's not of paramount importance right now. I don't really care at all about YouTube or any online content whatsoever, but it's a bonus I suppose. Yeah, I'm probably not the customer for Boxee.

If Boxee is as bad as Matt is describing it, I'm returning my units, sending a letter to Boxee to let them know why I returned them and I'll just go without. I'm not gong to dedicate any form of PC to this task, that's just too 1999. I'll remain a curmudgeon about this whole product class if I have to.

Putting Boxee on a Mac mini or any other machine isn't going to help in the long term because version 1.0 software will be coming to those versions as well. I mean, you can run the old interface if you're fine with a six month old beta.

The AppleTV hardware will completely wipe out the competition if it gets suitably hacked. Even though it doesn't currently support 1080p, with some decent mods it could be a lot better than anything else out there. I think it's going to sell more units than anything else even without any hacks or mods. It won't be iPod or iPhone nor iPad numbers, but they'll be higher than Boxee by at least a couple of orders of magnitude and they should be higher than Google's solution (from all supplier combined). Keep in mind that I think the stock Apple TV is crap, generally useless. I have no intention of ever buying or renting video from Apple, so that part (the biggest part of this product) doesn't appeal to me.
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Bruno
Twisted Melon : Fine Mac OS Software

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#339414 - 12/11/2010 21:26 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: hybrid8]
JeffS
carpal tunnel

Registered: 14/01/2002
Posts: 2858
Loc: Atlanta, GA
We mostly used our Apple TV for ripped content, though I suppose we do purchase/rent an non-insignificant amount of stuff from the Apple store.

I'd say our usage is:


75% DVD/Blu-Ray Rips
25% Purchased Content
05% Rentals

Our purchased content mostly comes in season passes for new shows as they come out- anything available on blu-ray or DVD we buy.

Of course, my wife re-watching owned content makes ownership a bigger value to us than to many others.


Edited by JeffS (12/11/2010 21:26)
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-Jeff
Rome did not create a great empire by having meetings; they did it by killing all those who opposed them.

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#339417 - 12/11/2010 22:15 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: hybrid8]
tman
carpal tunnel

Registered: 24/12/2001
Posts: 5528
Originally Posted By: hybrid8
The AppleTV hardware will completely wipe out the competition if it gets suitably hacked.

Its already been hacked. The AppleTV is just iOS but even more cut down. The only application on there is the "Frontrow" type application called Lowtide. People have transferred it on to other devices and it runs on there. Third party applications can already run on it as well just nobody has done much to support it.

I'm not sure where you're thinking these "decent" mods are though. People hacked the original Apple TV and that ran a cut down x86 OSX so porting was even easier but the additions were generally very clunky and not very good. If you thought Boxee was bad then look at some of the Apple TV 1st generation stuff :P

You can even run Boxee on the old Apple TV. Its just not very good because of the again high CPU consumption which makes the unit overhead and start crashing once you play video.

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#339423 - 12/11/2010 22:26 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: JeffS]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13591
Loc: Canada
I'm very curious to see a boxeebox in action. I suppose I could see the (now) old UI by just downloading it. But the new UI has me curious. I really should visit Bruno someday! smile

Actually, I'm in Toronto this weekend, but carless. Typing this right now from a moving VIA Rail train.

MythTV-0.23, with the Mythbuntu "theme", and with my own "usability fixes", is rather good IMHO. Looks great onscreen, and works well enough. The SageTV UI confuses me, dunno why, but it does. Too chaotic or something. And that's despite me using MythTV for a few years now!

MythTV-0.24 just got released.. I suppose I'll update to get the bug fixes and the like.. this also means I'll have to forward port my usability patches to make it palatable again. frown

But at least I can do that. smile

Cheers

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#339426 - 12/11/2010 23:07 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: mlord]
hybrid8
carpal tunnel

Registered: 12/11/2001
Posts: 7738
Loc: Toronto, CANADA
The old Apple TV didn't have much interest behind it. With iOS powering the current one it has a much larger pool of developers able to release code for it. It also means it will be trivial to port some existing apps to run on it - the biggest obstacle (IMO) is the user interaction/input.

if someone is going to try and write something from scratch targeting the hardware, they're going to fail. If someone writes a thin layer utilizing the existing video APIs, then they'll be in business.

Without any hacks the Apple TV will sell more units. With hacks it can make for a better system. Not saying necessarily that it will, but it can. The number of people willing to hack such a device is only a small percentage of total owners, but it could be close to the number of people willing to run the existing Boxee software. I'm almost tempted to include Boxee Box, but I think they'll get a good amount of new customers with that product. They won't do large scale (Apple, MS, etc..) volume by any stretch of the imagination however.
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Bruno
Twisted Melon : Fine Mac OS Software

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#339435 - 13/11/2010 04:41 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: hybrid8]
RobotCaleb
pooh-bah

Registered: 15/01/2002
Posts: 1866
Loc: Austin
Originally Posted By: hybrid8
XBMC looks like shit - every single skin looks terrible. Below terrible IMO. Besides, it runs only on large, power-hungry and !LOUD! boxes.

Boxee takes the XBMC core (all the open source libraries for codec, etc) and marries it to a metadata scraping engine to pull posters and descriptions, then it (used to) roll this all up in a very concise and usable UI.

Now it sounds like they're getting rid of their biggest strength, the UI. The metadata is useless without the UI, and the codec support is ABSOLUTELY trivial to support elsewhere because it's open source and even if you wanted to or needed to build a non-open product, you have a nice selection of quite powerful integrated SoC to handle every HD resolution and codec you want to throw at a box.

I need a good system for playback and display of LOCAL TV shows and movies. Hopefully something to play back home movies at some point as well, but that's not of paramount importance right now. I don't really care at all about YouTube or any online content whatsoever, but it's a bonus I suppose. Yeah, I'm probably not the customer for Boxee.


Oh, come now. I totally get that theme admiration is subject to personal opinion, but I'd hardly call this or this "below terrible". As for "Besides, it runs only on large, power-hungry and !LOUD! boxes", please stop spreading FUD and trolling just because you don't like something.

I run XBMC on an ASRock ION 330 which is hardly a power-hungry beast and is far from large. I doubt it's completely silent as it does have a fan inside, but I've never heard it. If you want, I can plug my Kill-a-Watt in and tell you exactly how much power it uses while decoding a 20+ GiB 1080p video.

XBMC comes with full support for metadata scraping including posters and fanart. It even has addons to play all TED talks, numerous other media streams (including YouTube, which I care less about than the TED talks) and if you don't see a scraper you like you're free to implement your own. Most of the addons have a less than ideal interface, but they're getting better.

It may not be perfect, but it works perfectly fine for me. Aside from my opinion about the themes, everything I've said here is based on provable facts. You are free to dislike it, but please don't spread falsehoods that will end up guiding people astray. You're very vocal and opinionated and I'm sure you'd hate to think someone made a decision based on bad information because of something you said.


Edited by RobotCaleb (13/11/2010 05:02)
Edit Reason: Silence and youtube

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#339437 - 13/11/2010 11:09 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: RobotCaleb]
hybrid8
carpal tunnel

Registered: 12/11/2001
Posts: 7738
Loc: Toronto, CANADA
What's the graphics performance like on that system? I've not seen or heard of XBMC running on any low-power system with acceptable performance. Decoding video is one thing, and as long as frames don't drop you're going to have a decent experience. But when the menu performance is slow, remote response disconnected, etc. it's going to make for a bad experience.

I hooked up Boxee last night and I have to say that this 1.0 release is, in terms of usability, an extremely early beta. Switching to a completely different UI right before shipping is far beyond a novice move and I have no idea how the money people let them do it. So much functionality has been removed from the previous betas and so many new bugs introduced (while old ones have not been addressed) that it's laughable - at least it would be if it didn't also make me want to cry.

Matt, I'm finding the easiest way to do anything is simply to go to the File option from the menu. You can also choose "files" from the Movies or "Shows" menu items, but that seems just redundant.

The "HOME" screen, is pretty useless as you've mentioned. And like in previous betas, it's not actually the top level menu. But it's even more painfully obvious because now the menu is actually a slide-down panel which is more like an options screen. Basically, the menu button on the remote takes you BACK in the UI, but only as far as media lists. Then you have to navigate the menu to go back any further. Poor implementation. Very easy to fix though.

I'm going to take back my second unit, but because I have a business case which requires access to this box, I'm going to hang on to the first unit and just keep my fingers crossed they see the light and add back all the functionality thet was lost - and more.

One of the things I mentioned about the last beta, the presence of actor's names in the movie descriptions, is also missing from 1.0. Actors are generally much more important to the synopsis than the director. I'm not even sure why they show director because you can't do anything with that information, like search for it or sort by it - same goes for year (we need to be able to sort by this). It's mainly just a point of trivia. You also can no longer scroll long movie descriptions.

The praise I can give is that FFWD/REW works a bit better. Still pretty bad, but a bit better.
_________________________
Bruno
Twisted Melon : Fine Mac OS Software

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#339440 - 13/11/2010 12:29 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: hybrid8]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13591
Loc: Canada
Those Ion2 boxes have dual-core, dual-thread Atom processors, plus NVidia graphics for decoding/presenting video. I doubt there would be any unnecessary lag in the UI.

-ml

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#339441 - 13/11/2010 12:42 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: mlord]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11922
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: mlord
Those Ion2 boxes have dual-core, dual-thread Atom processors, plus NVidia graphics for decoding/presenting video. I doubt there would be any unnecessary lag in the UI.

Yeah, but if we're talking about those ION 330 boxes, then we're talking about a completely different product. I know we've even discussed this exact thing before, Caleb, and you can't possibly be comparing a $430 computer to a $200 purpose-built device. And that's before you factor in the remote control (which isn't sold separately yet but will probably cost about $30.

I'm sure that computer is quite capable, even making for a decent desktop computer, let alone an HTPC that doesn't have to record video, but I'm looking for solutions that cost a lot less. I don't have approval from my wife to spend that much for this purpose smile

I'm going to have a lot to think about during my return window. I'm now researching the alternatives, and nothing is quite fitting the bill. I'll come back with my findings in a while.
_________________________
Matt

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#339442 - 13/11/2010 14:01 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: RobotCaleb]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7867
Loc: Seattle, WA
Originally Posted By: RobotCaleb
I run XBMC on an ASRock ION 330 which is hardly a power-hungry beast and is far from large. I doubt it's completely silent as it does have a fan inside, but I've never heard it. If you want, I can plug my Kill-a-Watt in and tell you exactly how much power it uses while decoding a 20+ GiB 1080p video.

31W at idle? Thats more then three times the most recent Mac Mini idle consumption. What are these companies doing to turn a supposedly power efficient and friendly CPU/chipset/GPU into a design that idles worse then a system much more powerful?

It would be interesting to compare power usage playing the same video file between your ASRock and a new Mac Mini. I however lack a new Mac Mini to test with. Maximum power draw for these two systems isn't a good comparison, since the Mini is a much more capable box, and of course a higher price to pay for the higher computing power.

*edit* Anandtech has even more power numbers. While some of the Mini's efficiency appears to come from OS X, even idle under Windows 7 is way lower then the ASRock.


Edited by drakino (13/11/2010 14:05)
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Tom

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#339443 - 13/11/2010 15:06 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: drakino]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13591
Loc: Canada
I can currently buy a Zotac Atom 510 ("Ion2") box for $209 before rebates ($15 mail-in), a 1GB stick of DDR2 for $19, and a very large 2.5" drive for it for about $50.

So.. the modern price point for these roll-your-own XBMC / MythTV boxes is now about $300, before remote control. A good USB HDTV tuner for recording costs another $50 or so, but that's not an option at all for the closed boxes.

Getting there.. smile

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#339447 - 13/11/2010 20:42 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: drakino]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11922
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: drakino
Originally Posted By: RobotCaleb
I run XBMC on an ASRock ION 330 which is hardly a power-hungry beast and is far from large. I doubt it's completely silent as it does have a fan inside, but I've never heard it. If you want, I can plug my Kill-a-Watt in and tell you exactly how much power it uses while decoding a 20+ GiB 1080p video.

31W at idle? Thats more then three times the most recent Mac Mini idle consumption. What are these companies doing to turn a supposedly power efficient and friendly CPU/chipset/GPU into a design that idles worse then a system much more powerful?

This is another reason to go with a purpose-built device. From what I'm finding on the web, the Apple TV draws about 1.7 to 2 watts. That's 2W while running Youtube or Netflix. I'm finding reviews that can't get the Roku above 7W.

I can't find stats for the Boxee Box, but I'd be surprised if it were more than a Mac Mini.

At the moment, the Roku looks really attractive, but it has nearly zero local media playback capabilities... ugh...
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#339449 - 13/11/2010 21:40 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: Dignan]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13591
Loc: Canada
I expect those boxes use more power when actively playing HD content. That 1-2W figure has to be the standby or idle power.. still pretty good, though.

The Zotac box apparently idles at a whopping 21W -- I'll verify that later on. Picked one up today at the $210 price, and will send in the form to someday get $15 back (rebate).

I need a box that can RECORD content as well as play it back, so all of those nifty locked products just won't cut it. Nor will XBMC, as it too is a playback-only system.

I already have lots of leftover 1GB RAM sticks, and tons of SSDs and hard disks.. so for me this is a nicely versatile platform at a good price. My spare USB tuner will mate nicely into this system, with MythTV installed as a combined FE/BE.

Cheers

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#339453 - 14/11/2010 02:22 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: mlord]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7867
Loc: Seattle, WA
Originally Posted By: mlord
I expect those boxes use more power when actively playing HD content. That 1-2W figure has to be the standby or idle power.. still pretty good, though.

At most, the Apple TV will pull 5.95 watts based on the power supply it has. Keep in mind the Apple TV is basically an iPhone/iPad with an HDMI plug, no screen and no battery. The technology was made power efficient long ago, due to the need to cram it in someones pocket for daily use.
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#339456 - 14/11/2010 11:49 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: drakino]
hybrid8
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Registered: 12/11/2001
Posts: 7738
Loc: Toronto, CANADA
If you turn it off, it loses all its indexed cover art. So the next time you turn it on to watch a movie, you'd better plan in advance and do so at least 30 minutes before you actually want to watch anything or you'll be looking only at black rectangles as you navigate.
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#339458 - 14/11/2010 12:47 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: hybrid8]
Dignan
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Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11922
Loc: Sterling, VA
Sorry, but I haven't seen that happen on my end.

I voiced a few of my complaints on Twitter in hopes that I'd get Boxee's attention. For some reason Twitter is the only place companies go these days to communicate with their customers, even though it's a terrible way to communicate.

Anyway, the founder actually responded to me and asked for an email with my list of complaints. He also said they're working on addressing the navigation to the local media, so it sounds like they're listening.

The primary suggestion I made in my email to them is one that I feel would be easy to implement, work pretty well, and even use a system they have in place already: favorites.

I suggested that they change the home screen on the device to show favorites, and open favorites up to more aspects of the device. For instance, let me favorite an area like the local movies, or a TV show. Then just have those favorites auto-populate the home screen. It would make for a much more useful screen than they have now.

The only other suggestion I made is related to the first one: make the menu button back all the way out to the home screen. I explained how silly it was that the "home" screen is rarely seen other than when you first power on the box.
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#339459 - 14/11/2010 13:08 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: Dignan]
hybrid8
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Registered: 12/11/2001
Posts: 7738
Loc: Toronto, CANADA
When a device/product maker starts taking direct suggestions from customers it leaves me worried. It means they don't have the vision to create a refined product. I suppose this can be mitigated depending on how a company acts on the suggestions, but Boxee hasn't shown that they can turn something around quickly nor distill these suggestions. This can lead to some hairy implementation that simply tried to cater to too many tastes and ends up pleasing no one.

We'll see. I've factory reset the box back to version 0.9, but now I'm once again having issues entering my login credentials. No time to continue testing today, so I'll give this another look tomorrow. If I can't recommend the product to friends, then I can't very well include it in my business plans either. I'm in a bit of a quandary right now.
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Bruno
Twisted Melon : Fine Mac OS Software

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#339461 - 14/11/2010 14:38 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: hybrid8]
peter
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Registered: 13/07/2000
Posts: 4142
Loc: Cambridge, England
Originally Posted By: hybrid8
When a device/product maker starts taking direct suggestions from customers it leaves me worried.

A startling sentiment to read on what is, after all, the Empeg BBS!

Peter

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#339462 - 14/11/2010 14:39 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: hybrid8]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 11922
Loc: Sterling, VA
Well, they're already pleasing no one, so why not take suggestions? I don't have any problem with companies listening to their users. It's the ones that don't that annoy me to no end. Hell, I've tried tirelessly to get somebody at Google to listen to me about an Android bug that users are complaining about, but like most corporations their size, they've completely shut themselves off from their users. I like small companies that hear when they're doing something wrong.

I get what you're saying about their lack of vision, but what one person might call vision and direction, another could call stubbornness. I'm pleased that they're flexible.
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#339463 - 14/11/2010 15:29 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: peter]
andy
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Registered: 10/06/1999
Posts: 5700
Loc: Wivenhoe, Essex, UK
Well to be fair you guys were perfectly happy to ignore us customers when you knew we were wrong. After all we wouldn't have end up with the striking Mk2 fascia if you had listened to most of us customer wink
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#339464 - 14/11/2010 15:51 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: hybrid8]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7867
Loc: Seattle, WA
Taking suggestions from end users is ok, as long as the company isn't using feedback as the only, or majority portion of how to shape and change the product. I was able to see first hand the dangers of both never listening to customers, and listening too much when it comes to game development. If you only end up listening to the vocal customers, you end up with Everquest's problem, where expansion after expansion ended up catering only to a small percentage of the actual subscriber base. If you don't listen at all, and decide to just change the entire product without warning, you end up with Star Wars Galaxies problems during the NGE. Based on these past blunders, SOE is a very different company today, ensuring time is spent making better games by using a number of different methods to create and improve them.

Ultimately feedback from end users should be a small part of the overall plan, as it's hard to gauge sometimes what percentage of your user base actually agrees with what is needed. Temper it with actual proper metrics to know how end users are actually using the product, and a vision that helps ensure it remains accessible to the potential future customers too. And ensure that new ideas are also coming from internal development, since sometimes users don't know what they want until after you've put a feature into the product. You also have to decide what you want your market to be and focus on it, instead of always trying to appeal to everyone. Sony and Microsoft are potentially making some dangerous moves these days, trying to connect with the success Nintendo had with motion controls. If they don't ensure their core base is also kept happy, they may end up trading one type of user for another.
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#339467 - 14/11/2010 20:34 Re: The Boxee Box - it's here, now what? [Re: drakino]
hybrid8
carpal tunnel

Registered: 12/11/2001
Posts: 7738
Loc: Toronto, CANADA
Apple, IMO is the perfect (current) example of a company that listens, but doesn't let users/fans design their products. The people working within Apple have vision and execute it very well.

The Boxee design is frankly all over the map. I feel doubly like a fool because I first championed the WDTVLive box and then the Boxee. Now both are coming up short. At least with the WDTVLive it was an entry-level solution with an entry-level price. Boxee is very steep for the current level of polish. If they expect the users to design and test, the boxes should at least be free as compensation. Obviously that would never happen, but I thought I'd just put the ridiculousness of the current situation into perspective. wink
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