The Boxee Remote

You have two options for controlling the Boxee Box. You can use the Boxee iPhone Remote app (free) or the bundled Boxee remote.

It’s surprising that Boxee/D-Link were the first to build a remote like this. You have a simple remote control on one side, and a full QWERTY keyboard on the other. Pure genius. As a result the remote is pretty large - taller than your average smartphone, but incredibly versatile.

The actual remote side has three buttons and a directional pad. The topmost button is a play/pause button, that is only useful for playing or pausing content. The bottom button is a menu button which doubles as a back button depending on context. The directional pad is used for menu navigation, as well as volume output on the box. With your TV already on, you can effectively control everything you need to via the Boxee remote alone as a result. In the center of the dpad is a third button used to select menu items (and also to bring up a playback menu in certain situations). The multiple roles the buttons have to play can be frustrating for new users because there’s often little consistency. Try adjusting volume up/down before you take a web video full screen and you’ll get an error telling you that the video you’re watching doesn’t support the skip ahead function. Then there’s the Pandora app which uses up/down on the dpad for menu navigation and there are a separate set of -/+ controls for adjusting the volume.

Because of the simple front, the remote is easy to hold the wrong way. Whenever I grabbed the remote without looking I often found myself holding it upside down. Button feel is disappointing. All of the buttons feel very cheap and they’ve got this plasticky click to them.

The QWERTY keyboard is a wonderful addition to the remote as it makes all text entry a non-issue. You can fill text input fields you encounter with the remote’s keyboard. It’s much easier than hunting for letters via the onscreen keyboard, although you do have that option if you like torturing yourself. The remote’s keyboard is super convenient and avoids the silliness that we’ve seen with Sony’s Google TV remote/keyboard/Atari-Jaguar-controller-imitation.

The Boxee remote communicates with the box via RF and not IR, so you don’t have to point it at the box. Range is also good over RF, I measured about 50 feet through a wall and down a hall before the remote stopped responding.

Intel’s CE4100 SoC Home Simplified Home
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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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