Power and Performance

The Boxee Box is made out of relatively low power hardware and as a result, total system power consumption never exceeds 15.2W. While playing Flash video content via the web I measured a consistent 15W power draw at the wall and the highest I ever saw it hit was 15.2W.

The lowest I ever saw the Boxee Box drop down to was 11.2W. Typically the Box likes to hang out around 13W, but I would expect much lower idle power from the CE4100 when absolutely nothing is going on.

The biggest problem is sleep power. If you put the Boxee Box to sleep it will draw anywhere from 11 - 13W, while asleep. There’s no difference between it being asleep and idle. This is a CE4100 limitation as I’ve mentioned before, so if you want to truly save power you’ll have to shut the Boxee Box down completely.

Performance, as I’ve mentioned before, is a problem with the Box. While menu navigation is quick (not PC-quick but quick enough), everything else could use some work.

Adding shows to your Watch Later queue is slow, loading YouTube Leanback is slow, searching for shows is slow. Once you start typing there’s a couple of seconds before you actually get results to pop up. Even bringing up the Shows hub and waiting for images to load takes time. And don’t get me started on browsing the web on Boxee. It’s just not fast.

Part of the problem is that we’re running on an 1.2GHz Atom, however even that should be enough for all of Boxee’s needs. Netbooks feel faster than this, which points the finger squarely at Boxee. The software is in dire need of performance optimization. Thankfully the UI frame rate never drops below 38 fps so it always feels quick, the problem is more the speed at which things load (particularly over WiFi).

Settings & Configuration Options Final Words
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  • Ben90 - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    in Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Looks like a nice little device for people who aren't so tech savy, but I would probably opt for a nettop or home built HTPC with the Boxee software instead. Thats all it is, after all, an Atom based PC with a funky design and the Boxee software. Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Its interesting that Boxee ditched the dual core Cortex A9 based Tegra 2 because it wasn't powerful enough for high bitrates, but Apple uses the A4 in the Apple TV which is a single core Cortex A8. Does that mean the ATV uses more compression/lower bitrates? Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    And speaking of which, would it be possible to run that video decode quality test on the ATV as well? Reply
  • azcoyote - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Does Apple do above 720p on Apple TV?
    In my experience they haven't/didn't.... ??
    Reply
  • AmdInside - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    That's cause ATV is not doing 1080p, only 720p. I think the problem that was mentioned was 1080p high bit rate movies. Reply
  • solipsism - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    What kind of GPU does the Boxee Box have? What kind of HW decoder, if any does it have? Apple’s A4 package contains an Imagination PowerVR SGX GPU and PowerVR VXD decoder, so the Cortex-A8 can do other tasks. I assume Boxee and D-Link have done something similar, but to what extent? Reply
  • Lord Banshee - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Did you even read the review? It is all in the Intel CE4100, this is not an Atom this is a complete SoC.

    Page3

    Intel CE4100

    "There’s a dual stream 1080p video decoder that can offload H.264, MPEG-2, MPEG-4/DivX and VC-1 decoding at up to 60 fps (hardware accelerated JPEG decoding is also supported). Intel integrates a Tensilica HiFi 2 DSP that can decode everything you’d want to on a set-top box: Dolby Digital 5.1, TrueHD, DTS-HD MA, MP3, AAC and WMA9."

    and

    "The CE4100 GPU is the same PowerVR SGX 535 used in the MID/smartphone implementations of Atom. It runs at up to 400MHz depending on the particular CE4100 model you’re looking at."
    Reply
  • Cygni - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    You can roll your own SFF PC for near the same price, and get the advantages of having a true HTPC.

    Barebones HTPC box
    1.8 Conroe Celeron
    1Gb DDR2
    320GB HD
    Win 7 Home Premium

    $300 shipped.

    And that little box can play everything Hulu's got, you can put full Boxee on it, can use Windows Media Center, can store files on the internal HD, etc. It won't be super snappy with that much RAM, but it will be faster than the Boxee Box!
    Reply
  • azcoyote - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    So true... But devils advocate so on the other side of the coin...

    Form Factor (not that that weird cube thing works for me)
    Remote Control
    Turn Key

    To be frank, if it gets the average Joe to get one, i am all for it...
    We WANT to drive more streaming and less Cable/Satellite
    Reply

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