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12/06/2010

Looking to drop cable TV? Boxee may be for you

Boxee Wishing you could break up with your cable / satellite TV provider?  Watching everything on your computer and wish you could see it on the big(ger) screen?  Meet the Boxee.

What is it? Boxee is a small, stylish, polished black cube about the size of a large can of soup that gives you a whole new option for watching TV.  Connecting to your home wifi network, Boxee aggregates all of the shows available for streaming on the web into an insanely user-friendly interface that makes finding your favourite show easier than finding the latest recording on your PVR.

The default view has shows ranked by popularity, so if you’re looking for an obscure Food Network show, your best bet is to view alphabetically. It really is this easy. In less than a half hour from setup, I was watching a current episode of How I Met Your Mother via the Boxee while my boyfriend hogged the PVR downstairs. 

Maybe you’re not only about TV watching or don’t watch a ton of cable shows? Search for web content or stream from YouTube. This probably sounds nightmarish if you’re imagining doing all this with a regular remote control. 
Luckily, the Boxee does not have a normal remote. On the top side are a few simple buttons that run the main functionality of the Boxee.  On the flip side is a QWERTY keyboard that makes surfing or using the many pre-loaded aps a breeze. 

I’ll be honest, I’m not totally into downloading or streaming shows or movies. I find it too complicated. Which makes the Boxee a nice choice for someone like me because it is so easy. If you are a serious downloader/streamer, then you get an easy interface, you can trade your computer for a remote control and you get to watch it all on a TV screen.  If you’re the type to over-share, you can connect the Boxee to Facebook or Twitter so the world can follow what you watch.

The cold hard truth?  There were a few bugs, but nothing that rebooting didn’t fix. Some shows streamed better than others, depending on the source. We tried running the Boxee via a direct line from the router instead of wifi, but noticed no difference in terms of the streaming quality. 

Will this replace my PVR and cable subscription? At this point, probably not. I’m not good enough at finding web content to make this really worthwhile and there is not enough easily accessible TV to keep me going. If at some point there are more options on the net, I would definitely reconsider.

Nicole Preston

* The Boxee is available now at Future Shop and other retailers.

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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