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09 December 2009, 17:17

Open source media centre Boxee hits beta phase

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Zoom The new Boxee Beta interface.
Source: Boxee
A downloadable beta of a fundamentally re-jigged version of open source media centre Boxee has recently been made available to a closed circle of users. As well as sprucing up the user interface with a tidier home view, the media library has been revised and now also lists internet, in addition to local, content. Multi-episode TV series, as offered by US service Hulu, for example, can now be sorted by series and episode.

There have also been some behind the scenes changes to the XMBC Media Center based software. Instead of OpenGL, the Windows version now uses Microsoft's DirectX with DXVA (DirectX Video Acceleration), which reduces CPU load by outsourcing video decoding to the graphics chip. This is particularly useful for netbooks and nettops, such as the Acer Revo, in which relatively low-performance Atom CPUs are often backed up by a sleek graphics chip such as NVIDIA's 9400M (Ion platform). The public beta phase is scheduled to start in January 2010.

Zoom D-Link's new Boxee Box.
Network specialist D-Link has announced a tiny computer specially designed for Boxee. The slick Boxee Box is intended to bring the full range of streaming products and communities into the living room quickly and easily. With an edge length of just 12 centimetres, the sawn-off cube is set to be more compact than any other nettop. It will be equipped with an HDMI port and have both digital (optical) and analogue sound output capabilities. According to the manufacturer's specification, it also has two USB 2.0 ports, an SD card reader and Ethernet, but there is no mention of wireless.

Zoom The new Boxee Box measures only 12 x 12 x 12 cm.
Source: D-Link
The Boxee Box, which is operated using a remote control, can also display normal websites via a built-in web browser. The industrial design for this new D-Link nettop was executed by Astro Studios. Astro have also done work for Alienware and Microsoft (Xbox 360). D-Link plans to start shipping the box, which will be priced at around the $200 mark, in the second quarter of 2010. The mini media centre will be shown to the public for the first time at consumer electronics trade show CES in Las Vegas in January.

Parts of Boxee are released under the GNU General Public License (GPLv2) and other parts, including the libboxee networking layer library, are closed source.

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