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Boxee Interface

February 15th, 2009

My Boxee Interface


Edit: As of 2/20/09, Hulu will no longer be not be available on Boxee. Hopefully this is temporary. Also the next Boxee update is scheduled to be released March 24th. The March 5th release date was postponed partly due to the Hulu situation.

Edit (4/27/09): New versions of Boxee for Linux, Windows, Mac and Apple TV have been released with a new Hulu Feeds app. This replaces the previous Hulu application and allows those like to me once again to watch Hulu content on our living room TV.

I talk a lot about my Boxee setup, so I thought I would do a write-up about each of the features I find most valuable from the Boxee application and explain in detail what each one is.

For those unfamiliar, Boxee is a free cross-platform media center application based upon XBMC. Boxee can scan your network for shared (or hosted) video, music and photo files. It then searches the web for album art for each file and organizes them within Boxee by media type (TV Show, Movie, Music, Photos).

The best part of Boxee is its ability to play Internet content all from within its own application. Instead of going to Hulu.com to watch the latest Battlestar Galactica, you can watch it from within Boxee and if you like the episode, you can recommend it to your other Boxee friends. Internet content current available in the Linux version of Boxee include Hulu, CBS, Joost, Adult Swim, Last.FM, Flickr and much more. Boxee is still in alpha testing but is available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS and Apple TV.

I have Boxee installed my Home Theater PC (HTPC)/DVR that’s connected to my 32″ living-room TV. I use a Universal Remote to control it along with my television. I launch Boxee from my MythTV (DVR) program, but it can be run as a separate program. After launching Boxee, I’m presented with a login screen. Even if only one person ever logs in to Boxee, you still see this screen every-time you launch (although this will most likely change in the next version).

This is the Welcome screen. It gives an overview of all recent activity and is where the social networking aspect of Boxee comes to life. The first section is recommendations from my Boxee friends. Below that are things my Boxee friends are currently viewing. Below that is my local (or network-shared) content that’s recently been added to Boxee. Below that is the things I have recently viewed from within Boxee.

When I arrow to the left with my remote control, I’m presented with Boxee’s menu. From there I can navigate to the type of content I wish to view.

Video – Movies
From within the Video->Movies menu, I see all my local movies that I have ripped onto my HTPC. Boxee automatically found the album art for these movies from IMDB. (Note: There is not a way from within the Boxee interface to change album art for video files). Clicking on a Movie brings up an option to either play the Movie or bring up more information about the Movie.

Video – More Info
When I press the ‘More Info’ button on the movie Anger Management, this is the screen it brought up. It contains information found at IMDB (including: Description, Director, Rating, Cast, Year and Run-time. From this menu I can Play the movie, Rate the movie, Recommend the movie or search IMDB for the correct movie listing if Boxee incorrectly identified the movie.

Video – Internet
From the Video->Internet menu, I can see all the Internet Video Content currently available from within Boxee. Each of these application plugins can be added or removed easily from within Boxee. I’ve added a few user-created plugins that does not currently come standard on Boxee ([adult swim], TVShack, Twit.TV). This can require manually downloading the plugins from the web and copying them to the plugin directory before they will be visible from within Boxee.

Video – Internet
Here are several of the Internet Video applications I use the most. From the top: Hulu, CBS, Joost, TwiT.TV, Adult Swim, Adult-Swim->Moral Orel. Keep in mind that only video that is available on their individual websites will be listed within Boxee. An example is if a full episode isn’t available on adultswim.com, then it won’t be available in the Boxee Adult Swim application.

Music – Album
From the Music->Albums menu, it lists all the local or shared music albums I have. I can choose to play any album in the list. All album art and information is pulled from the Internet.

Music – Internet
From the Music->Internet menu, I can see all the Internet Audio Content currently available from within Boxee. If you have an account at Last.FM, you can stream your personal radio station or those of your friends (I highly recommend Wil Wheaton’s Last.FM station). Once you begin streaming, you have the option to display lyrics on the screen that automatically scroll as the music plays, which is one of my favorite features. (Note: A Pandora application is currently in the works). Update (4/27/09): A Pandora app is now available on all Boxee platforms except Windows.

Pictures – Pictures
From the Pictures->Pictures menu, it lists all the local or shared photos I have. I have mine stored in separate folders and Boxee respects your folders and displays accordingly. When I scroll over a folder, a preview of four of the photos is displayed on the right-hand side. Clicking on the folder brings up all of the photos in that folder and after clicking on one of the photos, I can begin a Ken Burns style slide-show.

Pictures – Internet
From the Pictures->Internet menu, I can see all the Internet Picture Content currently available from within Boxee. After selecting Flickr, I choose whose photos I wish to see (or random Interesting photos from Flickr). In this case, I chose my own account and display my most recent photos. After clicking on a photo, you can begin a Ken Burns style slide-show through all the recent photo collection.


Boxee is available at http://boxee.tv as a public-alpha for Linux, Mac OS and Apple TV. Boxee is available for Windows as a closed-alpha, but there is a signup on the website if you are interested. The next update for Boxee on all platforms is due out on March 5th March 24th, 2009.

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  1. Nerdy Liberal
    February 17th, 2009 at 11:05 | #1

    I’ve been wondering how to get my avatar or picture on the login screen. I have Apple TV. I put it in my profile, but it doesn’t come up on my Mac or on my TV. Can someone explain to me how? Otherwise, I’m pretty satisfied with Boxee, considering it’s in alpha stage.

    Many thanks.

  2. February 17th, 2009 at 11:18 | #2

    @Nerdy Liberal
    For any Boxee related issues, it is best to ask in the forums so everyone can benefit from the answers: http://forum.boxee.tv.

    In this case, I think I had a similar problem. I started using Boxee before I added a profile avatar at http://app.boxee.tv. I believe I had to delete my ~/.boxee/UserData/profiles.xml and ~/.boxee/UserData/profiles.xml.bak files before it would regenerate them with my avatar. (I would recommend backing them up before deleting).

    Hope that helps, best of luck!

  3. uncola
    February 18th, 2009 at 08:42 | #3

    nice blog post, good screenshots for someone who doesn’t know what boxee is like

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