Our Team Blog

VUDU Arriving Next Week, Netflix By End Of January

We’re sorry that VUDU and Netflix will not be available on the Boxee Box until January.

These services provide amazing access to a huge catalogue of movies and TV shows in great quality. They are pillars of the future we see at Boxee where you can watch almost any movie or show, whenever you want. They were also inspirations that helped us decide to start Boxee in 2007.

If you’re new to Boxee or received a Boxee Box as a gift, you can surf through previous blog posts and our forums to see how our team has done its best to create the product that all of us wanted to enjoy digital “stuff” on our TVs. While both services are up and running in our offices on the Boxee Box, we need some more time to test each application to make sure they are ready for launch. We expect VUDU to be up and running next week. We have a brand new version of Netflix we expect to arrive by the end of January.

I know many users will be upset. I am disappointed that we couldn’t make it happen in time for the end of the year. However I’d ask that you put your faith in us. There are countless devices with access to these services available, but I’d like to think you chose Boxee because we offer something different, in our approach, in our commitment, in our passion, in the way we communicate (whether its good stuff or bad), and in how quickly we move on the stuff that matters most to our users.

Looking back at 2010 it’s hard to believe so much has happened in just 12 months. We are going to be at the CES Show next week and are really excited about 2011. For us it’s going to be about continuing to improve the Boxee software, getting Boxee on additional devices, bringing more content (both in the US and internationally) and making Boxee available on more screens.

Happy New Year everyone!

December 31, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Boxee Box firmware update, UI tweaks and some love for 3D, too

Earlier today we released a firmware update for the Boxee Box (details below). If you don’t see the ‘update’ icon on the top-right of your home screen, go to Settings>System>Update to manually check for and download the update.

We are still focused on bug fixing and minor improvements based on user feedback we’re getting from our early users. In this update we also made some minor UI changes to address certain usability issues related to playback of local files (added more filter and sort options, quicker navigation in long lists based on A-Z, ability to mark movies as Watched/Unwatched).

Initial Selection

The next firmware update should come out before the end of the year, with major improvements to the browsers, new content/apps and more bug fixes.

Improvements and additions:

  • Enabling user flavor selection (online/local files inclination) during first login and via Settings
  • Added alphabetical scrollbar for local files
  • Enhanced sorting options in browse screens (A-Z, Z-A, most popular, newest/oldest…)
  • Add Genre filter support for local files
  • Mark movies as watched/unwatched from the Action menu
  • Added option for hourly scan of SMB/UPnP/USB sources
  • Added SMB client defaults to Network Settings
  • When watching side-by-side or over/under video, the subtitles and OSD would not be visible when wearing 3D glasses. The user now has the option, under Settings, to have the user interface properly displayed when watching 3D videos

Bug fixes

  • Do not de-interlace of video when the TV is in interlaced mode (e.g. 1080i)
  • HFS+ volumes display UUID instead of volume name under some conditions
  • Video OSD text background too small for text title when playing video with long titles
  • When connecting to VPN, Boxee didn’t refresh region code
  • Boxee doesn’t change DNS configuration when VPN is set up
  • Can’t connect to hidden wireless networks
  • Can’t connect to network using WPA passcode with special characters
  • When Internet connection is restored, menu doesn’t show online channels
  • DVD .iso playback aspect ratio incorrect
  • DVD playback displayed some artifacts
  • “Resume From” doesn’t work on DVD ISO/Folders
  • Zoom on DVD (.iso and folder) video does not work as expected
  • .vob files playback (standalone files) is stuttering and low FPS
  • DVD .iso playback over Wireless N: excessive buffering, playback speed issues, random exits
  • “Vietnamese” character set is misspelled in System Settings
  • Show “Remove From Favorites” button in episodes list, even if no episodes are available
  • SMB credentials are not saved upon restart
  • Write failure when accessing Box-attached disk over SMB
  • SMB file sharing of external HD size reporting is wrong
  • Become unresponsive and hang during playback of AVC .mkv file from SMB mapped drive
  • Crashes when indexing some videos inside .rar files
  • Crashes indexing mp3 file with corrupt embedded thumbnail
  • Stretch 16:9 and Stretch 14:9 not working properly
  • Shoutcast and Radiotime: Switching stations or Cancel causes interface to freeze and console output to crawl
  • Some .mkv files do not playback properly (some flavors of H.264)
  • Support packed bitstream muxing mode in .avi
  • Some .wtv files do not playback properly
  • Constant buffering on 1080p BD .mkv files accessed wirelessly on Boxee
  • Boxee crash when browsing into unidentified Files
  • Playback choked and crashed during viewing of .mp4 file
December 13, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Thanks giving, Bug fixing

It has been 2 weeks since the first users got their Boxee Boxes. We received many bug reports, complaints, praises, feature suggestions, etc.

Today we are releasing the first firmware update with numerous bug fixes and improvements (details below). The Boxee Box is automatically checking for an update every 24hrs, but you can manually initiate the update by going to Settings>System>Update and click Check for New Version of Boxee. The build # is 1.0.1.16319. (in case for whatever reason the Box does not download the new version you can install it manually by following the instructions here)

At the risk of sounding emotional and corny, I must say a big Thank You! to the early users of the Boxee Box. You have been amazing. Providing great feedback. Telling us we suck in some cases and that we rock in others. Helping us troubleshoot. With this first firmware upgrade we hope we’re demonstrating that we are not only listening, but also taking action.

We are now working on the next version of the firmware. More bug fixes prioritized based on your reporting and a first batch of usability/UI fixes (will share screenshots and issues being addressed later next week). We aim to release a couple more firmware upgrades till the end of the year. Including not just fixes, but also the addition of the much anticipated new Netflix and Vudu apps.

Bug Fixes and Improvements:

Media Playback

  • 1080i playback in Web browser caused black screens for Web and local content
  • Some HD .avi content playing at low frames-per-second
  • Failure to seek in specific Blu-Ray .iso over a network share
  • Case sensitivity issues in .iso filename extension
  • Stuttering while playing some Blu-Ray content
  • No video, audio only while playing some .m4v content
  • Failure to render .ass subtitles after changing overscan settings
  • Failure in opening .rar files containing subtitles
  • Playback and overscan issues when switching to and from fullscreen of online content
  • Rear channels on AAC 5.1 are not played properly w/ LPCM 5.1 out
  • Flash video audio drops out after ~1 hour in certain online videos
  • Select subtitles from hard-drive, screen does not work
  • MPEG1 video inconsistent play
  • Re-buffering during playback of HD-Audio
  • Video stuttering and losing audio (white noise) when resuming playback on a specific title in a blu-ray folder/ iso file
  • HGTV OSD Controls don’t work and counter stuck at 00:00
  • MPEG4 movies occasionally have green line at the side and/or purple line at the button

Wireless Connectivity

  • Wireless signal levels display (showing one bar when in fact 3 bars should be displayed)
  • Some WiFi encryption schemes were not supported
  • First time WiFi setup takes excessive time
  • Boxee does not accept ‘$’ in passwords for WiFi
  • Wrong message displayed when WiFi password is wrong

Network Shares

  • Repeated credentials request for non-secure network shares (SMB)
  • Unable to access network share when Window Live is installed on Windows 7
  • Intermittent crashes when failing to open networked media
  • Frequent disconnects from Mac OS X network shares (SMB)
  • Not reconnecting to disconnected shares disables selection in the Movies database view
  • Prompted for username/password when accessing different shared folders on same computer via SMB

Other

  • Empty screen appears when filtering shows by Channels > TED, Engadget, when geo lock is enabled
  • Faulty DNS configuration when using VPN causing a Boxee network disconnect
  • Not returning to the selected item library screens after item selection
  • Leave/stay prompt shows up multiple times for some online content
  • Searching for applications with spaces in their titles (i.e. funny or die) doesn’t show the application in the results
  • When creating a new user, username textbox is not visible when the email contains the word ‘boxee’
  • Repositories screen buttons activation and adding toggle state is wrong
  • Web browser screen size was wrong, not compensating for overscan
  • “Resume from” does not always show
  • Browser Loading progress bar does not go away
  • Weather location and timezone are not always set up correctly
  • Boxee weather application doesn’t use the Temperature Scale configured at Settings > General > Location
  • sian fonts display in the browser
  • ‘Friends feed’ from Facebook is not ordered correctly
  • TV OSD does not always work
  • Browser Loading progress bar does not go away in certain cases

Improvements and additions

  • Support .mkv with header compression
  • Support switching from PC black level to video black level
  • Default overscan is now 3% on all borders
  • Add a global subtitles toggle, set to off by default
  • Support for showing the last letter typed in password fields
  • Support local thumbnails: .tbn support / folder.jpg
  • Enable external subtitles for Blu-Ray and DVD iso/folders
  • User selectable slideshow for the screensaver
November 25, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Boxee Box Q&A with Avner Ronen

Watch live streaming video from boxeebox at livestream.com

Today. November 16 at 2pm EST (New York time), I’ll be hosting a Q&A session on Livestream.

If you are an existing Boxee Box user or considering getting one, it is an opportunity for you to ask me any question you may have. The Q&A session will be 1hr long or more (depends how it goes and whether I will be able to fight the urge to go downstairs for a macchiato from the Van Leeuwen truck).

We will be embedding the Livestream on the blog - http://blog.boxee.tv/

You can also watch it here - http://livestre.am/t7hA

I hope you can tune in - if you’d like to ask me a question, send it to me via @boxee on Twitter and I’ll do my best to answer as many of your queries as possible.

LiveQandA

November 15, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Boxee Box Ships on Nov 10th, RSVP for the launch event in NYC

BoxeeLaunch

We just got final confirmation from D-Link that the Boxee Box will start shipping on Nov 10th. Boxee and D-Link will have a launch event in NYC to celebrate and demo the Boxee Box, complete with Boxee 1.0.

People who pre-ordered from Amazon should receive their Box as early as Nov 11. The Boxes should start appearing in stores on Nov 17th (if you are the type of person who can’t wait the extra week you should probably pre-order from Amazon today).

D-Link has gone the extra mile (or kilometer) and turned mid-November into a worldwide launch. You can already pre-order the Boxee Box in Canada, Australia/New Zealand, UK and in other countries across Europe (these units will all start shipping on or shortly after the 10th).

On the evening of the 10th Boxee and D-Link will have a launch event in NYC to celebrate and demo Boxee 1.0, a new version of Boxee software that will initially be available only on the Boxee Box and will later roll out to Mac, PC and Linux.

If you are a Boxee fan and plan to be in NYC on 11.10.10 we would love to see you there. RSVP HERE. There will also be a live broadcast of the event on the Internets. More details to come.

October 20, 2010 at 10:00 am

Pre-order a Boxee Box Now, Australia & Europe We’re Coming, and Intel Goes Inside

We have a bunch of Boxee Box news today!

Pre-order now!

D-Link has signed up Amazon (US only) as exclusive pre-order partners for the Boxee Box. People who pre-order through Amazon in the US will receive their Boxee Box before it goes on sale anywhere else.

We think the Boxee Box is ideal for people who want to:

  • Play what you normally watch on your computer (whether it is on the Internet or your home network) on their TV
  • Tailor the Internet experience to a huge flat screen
  • Do it in full HD, 1080p with 5.1 surround whenever possible
  • Share the stuff you watch with your friends and see what they are watching
  • Use a simple remote rather than a keyboard and mouse

If that is what you are looking to do on your TV then you will love the Boxee Box. It’s $199 and it’s available for pre-order now :)

UPDATE: you can now pre-order the Boxee Box in Canada through BestBuy.

International launch:

We have some good news for people who live in _______ (see list below)! D-Link has decided to go for an International launch rather than just release in the US.

Come this November the Boxee Box will be available in the following countries: the US, Canada, Australia and in Europe - Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

As soon as we have news regarding other countries we will let you know.

Intel Inside:

The Boxee Box has moved to a completely new platform, and is now based on the Intel Atom Processor (the Intel CE4100 system-on-a-chip codenamed “Sodaville”). This switch means that Boxee will be part of the Smart TV program that Intel is pushing and that will be heavily promoted this fall.

At CES we demoed a Boxee Box running on Nvidia’s Tegra 2 platform. We decided to make the switch to Intel earlier this year (which was a part of what delayed us from our earlier ‘Q2 launch date) to provide better support for high-profile h264, HD playback. There is plenty for us to do with Nvidia on the mobile front and future generations of Tegra are being designed to support a wide variety of video formats, so we are excited to be continuing our relationship in other ways.

intel-atom-logo

The Boxee Box with Intel Inside supports full HD. 1080p, High Profile 4.1. And while the spec calls for 62.5Mbit/s, we have actually tested it in excess of 90Mbit/s (sorry, that’s the highest bitrate sample we could get our hands on). No sweat.

We’re at the Intel Developer Forum today showing off the new Boxee Box by D-Link so if you’re in the area, stop by and see us.

September 13, 2010 at 1:46 pm

How Boxee Sees the Apple TV

Most of us at Boxee are Apple fanboys. If it is silver and it has the Apple logo on it, we pre-order it. If there’s a line around the block, chances are we’re in it. And everything stops at Boxee HQ while we unbox the latest gadget to come out of Cupertino. We were incredibly excited when a couple of developers in the community made it possible to run Boxee on Apple TV (as hundreds of thousands of users have done) and the Boxee Remote for iPhone remains one of the most popular interfaces people use to interact with Boxee. Plenty has happened since then.

Now there is a new version of Apple TV coming out and the Boxee Box is launching in November.

We think people want to be able to watch anything that they can watch on their computer, only on their bigscreen TV. There is an overwhelming consumer expectation that the content we can consume in our cubicles, our dorm rooms, and in our laps should be available in our living rooms, in full 1080p with a gorgeous interface. It’s a simple premise, but the challenge is to do it in a way that makes sense in that space, so you can put your feet up, grab a remote and start watching. No keyboards, mice, windows or labyrinthine menus. It should be calm and it should be beautiful. And it *must* be open.

We all watched the Apple announcement. We walked away feeling strongly confident about the space it left for Boxee to compete. We have a different view of what users want in their living rooms. We are taking different paths to get there. The Boxee Box is going to be $100 more expensive than the Apple TV, but will give you the freedom to watch what you want.

We think it’s worth it.

September 1, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Boxee Box by D-Link Release Set for November in North America

Earlier this week we got confirmation that the Boxee Box by D-Link will ship this November in US and Canada. We realize many of you have waited months to purchase the Boxee Box, and we know how frustrating this is. Believe us when we say that both Boxee & D-Link want to start selling Boxee Boxes yesterday.

The original plan was to have the Box out by the end of Q2 (i.e. just about now), but that time-frame proved overly ambitious.

Our vision is to make the Boxee experience on a set top box as good as (and where we can, better than) the one you already know on a PC. The goal is to play HD videos from the web or a local network in 1080p and use hardware acceleration whenever possible. And to provide a TV browser experience that can handle almost everything you throw at it, including Flash 10.1. Not to mention making all this happen for an affordable price and on a quiet device that will not feel obsolete 12 months after you buy it.

We are looking forward to the November launch with D-Link and believe it will deliver a user experience that sets the standard for accessing stuff from the Internet and from your home network on your TV.

Moving forward we want to keep you up to date so we will share progress via Boxee’s Development Blog and the Boxee Box by D-Link Fan Page on Facebook.
In the meantime, it feels good to have a date set for the release of the Boxee Box, and we can’t wait to get it to you.

June 11, 2010 at 6:59 pm

The Future of TV

Avner Ronen and Mark Cuban

On Friday I had a debate with Mark Cuban on the future of TV. We disagreed on most things. The main debate circled around whether the future living room will be driven by the Internet, or by the existing TV infrastructure delivered by Cable/Sat/IPTV operators. Mark followed up with a post titled “Don’t Waste the Internet on TV - Protect the Future of the Internet”.

In our opinion it is not a question of “if” the Internet represents the future of TV it is a question of “when” (answer below). Here is why Internet on TV is inevitable:

  • Everything is connected - We consume video and entertainment in general on multiple devices (mobile, computer, tablet, etc.). We will want to access Internet content, apps and games on our TVs as well. It does not make sense that our biggest screen should remain disconnected.
  • We are all passionate about something - One of the greatest things about the Internet is that you can dive as deep as you like into almost any subject whether it is cricket, anime, or music videos. Each one of us has a different set of interests and passions and for the first time we have a medium that’s personalized. The existing approach (and architecture) of a curated list of channels designed by a sole provider doesn’t address this basic human need.
  • Less control = more innovation - There is a reason TV is lagging behind so many computers and mobile devices. TV is an oligopolistic environment with tight controls. Developers and entrepreneurs are attracted to open platforms with critical mass. We’re not there, yet, but when you read that 27.5% of TVs sold in the US in January were connected to the Internet you know this day is getting closer.
  • CE manufactures are already on it - They are watching consumer demand rise and are building Internet connectivity into their entire product line. TVs, BluRay players, and game consoles are now all being connected to the Internet. Even if the set-top box is not connected the users will use some other way to get their TVs connected.
  • Content owners follow the audience - If you are a content owner you have two main concerns… a) getting your content in front of as many consumers as possible and b) getting paid for it. There is already a critical mass of users who are online and want to watch premium content (26% of online users watch TV shows online more than once a week), yet most mainstream TV content is still not available online. It is a huge missed opportunity.
  • Broadband is the #1 priority for many - Younger generations see broadband as vital and PayTV as an accessory. This generation is willing to pay for content, but likely to do so online. Making them pay for traditional TV, just so they can watch their shows online does not make sense.

People want Internet on their TVs, the CE companies want to address that need, the content owners see the opportunity and now the FCC’s plan indicates that the government also would like to see it happen. It is safe to assume that within the next 3-5 years Internet connected TVs will be a mainstream phenomenon and we will have more and better entertainment options on our TVs.

TV as we know it today offers a reliable and familiar experience for consumers, and a proven business model for content owners and distributors. There is great concern about the what TV content delivered over the Internet will mean for the industry (the fear of analog dollars turning into digital cents). There are the examples of the music industry (resisted the move towards digital and is now in search of a business model) and the newspapers industry (embraced the Internet and is now in search of a business model), which point to a damned if you do and damned if you don’t scenario.

But the talk and fear of cord-cutting is overzealous by both the media and the industry. Not only are their fears unnecessary, the focus on the negative impacts takes away the attention from the great opportunities that are opening up. We believe the time for content owners to embrace the Internet is now, and that the parallels to the music and newspapers industries are not entriely appropriate, here is why:

  • Unlike newspapers, video content is not easily commoditized - You can read about last night’s political scandal from hundreds of sources, but there is only one company making American Idol, Lost, or Heroes. When you have a unique product, it’s more likely people will pay for it.
  • Unlike music, pirating video is still a hassle - Downloading a pirated version of a newly released movie is still a cumbersome experience. It can take a long time, the quality is sometimes terrible, it could be hard to find, you may catch a virus, etc. However, this is not a long-term advantage because piracy will become much easier. Right now, the industry has the time to make a pre-emptive strike by making content available online and making it easy to find and enjoy.
  • Freemium is easier to offer for video than for news or music - Once a music album is out it is hard to create a premium offering around it. In the case of video however, content owners can create premium value in multiple ways: HD quality, access to additional content, live broadcast, windowing of releases and more.
  • Unlike music and newspapers there is a clear path for subscription revenues - There are already examples of successful online subscription services like Netflix and MLB, so it is not farfetched to imagine people subscribing to shows, channels or bundles based on their personal interests.

The users and the technology are ready, it is time for the industry to step up.

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March 18, 2010 at 11:09 am

Big Mouths Clash in the South (Avner Ronen vs. Mark Cuban at SXSW)

On March 12th at 5pm I will be debating Mark Cuban about the future of TV at the SXSW conference in Austin.

Mark and I had a little back-and-forth in March of 2009. A year has passed, some stuff has changed, a lot has stayed the same. We decided it could be interesting to debate the issues in front of a live audience. SXSW was a perfect choice. It is on Mark’s home turf of Texas, but the attendees are Internet people.

We will debate the viability of the Internet as a source for consuming video entertainment vs. offerings from Cable, Sat and IPTV operators. We have an opposing point of view on almost every issue.

I would like to officially claim the position of underdog in this debate. Here is why:

  • He is Mark Cuban.
  • He owns the Dallas Mavericks. I get excited when I get bleacher seats for a Knicks game.
  • He was on Dancing with the Stars. I can’t even get slow dancing right.

Though if things get physical I think I can take him out. He didn’t show real skills in his fight with Sheamus (see below), and I was a programmer in the Israeli Defense Force. I feel pretty confident about this one.

If you are attending SXSW this year then I hope you’ll be able to attend the debate. Not sure whether it will be broadcast online, but we’ll share the link here if it is.

February 17, 2010 at 1:59 pm