Boxee Cloud DVR

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Reviewed by brandon.dean (Currently owns)

This is embarrassingly bad.

In full disclosure my Boxee TV was sent to me for free by their team, but using the device for weeks has worn away any good will that act would have created. In short, the Boxee TV barely functions at best. The problem seems to be that the hardware is completely incapable of handling the software it was designed to run.

For a box designed to be always on, the device runs very hot. It run's so hot that it would be reasonable to be worried about the integrity of the internals. There is a reset button, which you will get to know rather intimately, due to the constant crashes and freezes.

The Youtube app which despite having a nice design is painfully slow and laggy when not freezing or going into crashes that require reboots. The Netflix app is slightly less crash prone, but equally slow. However, if you try to access the Netflix app using it's dedicated button on the remote, it will almost always cause to Boxee to freeze and require yet another reboot.

The Vimeo app is a welcome addition, but like the other apps, it is slow and unstable. Yet to make matters laughably worse, the app lacks of a keyboard meaning YOU CAN'T LOG IN TO YOUR OWN VIMEO ACCOUNT! There is even a button in the top corner of the screen asking you to join, but there is no way for the app to input text into the login screen. As a result, one is stuck looking at the stock curated videos with no control over what one watches. You can't even search because of the app's lack of a keyboard! Its like being in Youtube without an ability to navigate anywhere.

I live in a market where cloud DVR is "active" but active doesn't mean "working". Sure it records shows, but not in a way anyone could call watchable afterwards. The audio and/or video drop out periodically, and every show I had recorded would make random jumps back and forth in the programs timeline (as if you chopped your show into chunks and shuffled them like a deck of cards). I would love to say that this was only occasional, but this happened with every single show my box "recorded" for me. The Cloud DVR is in beta, but can a Walmart exclusive use that excuse?

In short, calling Boxee TV not ready for prime-time is underplaying it. This is pre-alpha software, on under-powered hardware. The fact that one of the few apps is missing a keyboard shows how sloppily this experience was cobbled together. With Roku running circles around this device in app selection, and with its signature cloud DVR feature essentially unusable, the only way this will make inroads into the set-top box market is through deception.

The Breakdown

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  • Design 3
  • Software 1
  • Content selection 4
  • Performance 1
  • Accessories, remote 2
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