Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Boxee Box

I've been having a love affair with my new TV. It's disgusting. Besides hooking up digital HD cable, my game systems (PS3 and Wii), and a my audio system, the latest toy to be integrated into this media nirvana (hey I'm geeky and easy to please) is my new Boxee system. For those of you who don't know Boxee is a media player based on Xbmc which organizes all your local media (video and audio) and gives you a great interface for playing and managing that content. Boxee integrates a dash of social networking that allows you to add friends so that you can share what you are watching and make recommend shows or music that they might also enjoy. Really a sweet little app. It runs on a bunch of platforms but it has been ported to run on the Apple TV and also generic Apple computers.

Now, I've been looking at the Apple TV for some time but I never really thought that would be a good solution for me. I didn't see the advantage of using it over, say, a generic Mac running iTunes, hooked up to a TV with a good sound system. Yeah, Apple TV has that special Apple magic simplicity but what I really wanted was a computer hooked up to my TV. A media platform, if you will, that I could run multiple apps for media consumption, as well as other tasks like surfing, email, etc.

Then I see Boxee in action and it becomes the catalyst that sets my credit card in motion. The week my trial account was live and I actually played with the interface, I went out and put together the parts for my Boxee box. Here is what I integrated:

* Mac Mini (2 Gig RAM, 2 GHz core 2 duo processor, 120 GB Internal drive)

* Apple wireless keyboard and mouse

* 4 TB Drobo for media storage

This setup is connected to a Onkyo AV Receiver via HDMI cable and digital optical audio cable, which eventually plugs into a Samsung 40" LCD. I run both boxee and iTunes to play various video/audio. I like this set up better than hacking an Apple TV because it's more of a general purpose computer than just a media player, serves many tasks at once. Yeah it's not cheap. I could have gone more ghetto and saved some bucks but I wanted to put this together fast with minimal hassle and man, was this simple. Yes, there are cheaper ways to put this together, but my setup does double duty as my central file/backup server as well as my general purpose living room computer. So it really works for me.

Give Boxee a try. It's wonderful.

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