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Thread: software playback?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    11

    Question software playback?

    Hi folks. I am hesitating between purchasing the D-Link Boxee Box or the WD TV live. I have read that the Boxee Box is future-proof, because it has software playback, i.e. when a new video codec (or major new codec version) is released, it can be easily installed via software update (thanks to Intel CPU) - whereas on other players (e.g. with Sigma or Realtek CPU) this is generally not possible, because they would need a hardware upgrade.

    Is this true?

    I asked over at the WD TV forum (as a form of playing devil's advocate), and - as expected - they said it is NOT true:

    I don't think that's true of the CE4100... I could be wrong, though. When I had a Boxee box, even full HD high bit rate blu ray rips didn't increase CPU utilization more than about 10%, implying that the decode was done in hardware, not software.
    The CE4100 has a internal hardware HD video decoder built in.
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3912/b...tory/3
    What is your take on that guys?
    Many thanks for your comments.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    1,534

    Default

    Base your decision on the current feature set, not on what may come down the pipe in the future.

    Boxee is currently in a league of its own with no other products available for direct comparison. Nothing else does what Boxee does.

    If you don't care about a decent UI, indexing your local content and metadata and above al else want to spend the least amount of money, then don't get a Boxee Box. You can grab any number of products in the $50 to $100 range that will play back all your local files, by filename.

    If you need more than this, Boxee is the only game in town right now.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    346

    Default

    To the technical query, yes it is true.

    Boxee does not use a traditional system on chip like Realtek or Sigma Design's players these are low power MIPS chips (extremely weak CPU's) coupled with a chip that handles all video decoding in hardware.

    The chip Boxee uses is an x86 Atom CPU (a weak x86 CPU at that but much more powerful vs Realtek/Sigma) coupled with a PowerVR GPU and the chip has built in hardware decoders for H.264, VC-1, MPEG-2 video no different really from your typical PC.

    Boxee could update their software with additional codec support but if the format is not one of the built in ones with hardware acceleration then it falls back to the Atom CPU which is not so great but can handle stuff depending on bitrate and resolution.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    11

    Thumbs up

    many thanks for your technical explanation.
    much appreciated.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    11

    Default

    http://wdtvhd.com/index.php?showtopic=30180

    As mentioned on the Boxee forum, it uses the PowerVR GPU's built-in hardware decoders, and could fall back to the Atom (no hardware acceleration = severe performance penalty) for newer codecs. Know what, I am not too certain that Boxee will be releasing codec updates all that frequently, if at all (not least to maximise profit by possibly releasing updated models).

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