Streaming video service Boxee has just joined the ranks of Roku and Vudu with its own set-top box, to be built by D-Link. The box, which isn’t actually box-shaped at all, will go on sale at a “network of retail outlets” in the first half of 2010. No price just yet.
Boxee suffered a major blow earlier this year when Hulu pulled its content from Boxee, leaving the little startup without much of a competitive advantage against other streaming video apps. The Boxee Box is the company’s new strategy, forged in plastic; instead of just streaming videos from some distant servers, the new box will also stream stuff from your home computer to your TV. Essentially, it’s an Apple TV without all of Apple’s debilitating limitations and DRM.
Boxee — the desktop software — has done this for a while: it collects all the photos, music and video on your PC (or Mac or Linux box) and presents them in one centralized app. Plenty of people have solved the PC-TV gap by simply wiring their desktop to their flatscreen with an HDMI cable. The Boxee Box will make that solution a little cleaner.
Boxee (both the app and the box) will also stream content from MLB, Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, Flickr, Tumblr, Digg, and a few other sites like TED (of TEDTalk fame) and Stanford (famous for its free lecture podcasts). It also includes all the obligatory social networking junk: share with friends, watch suggested flicks, and so on. Check out the movie below for a full rundown.
The Boxee Box will sport HDMI connectivity as well as S/PDIF, RCA audio and a pair of USB ports. It will have both an ethernet jack and WiFi.
While all this makes the Boxee Box a pretty attractive — perhaps even superior — alternative to Vudu’s and Roku’s boxes, it’s important to remember that the best parts of the Box probably haven’t yet been invented. Since Boxee is open source, new applications and tweaks will probably start springing up by next summer.