The Boxee Box will stream from any hardware, whether it's a network-attached PC or Mac, or a NAS drive. 1080p playback posed no problem in the main – though on one clip we got really weird stuttering and on another we got poor vision/sound sync so we're not sure what that was about. XviD playback worked fine, as did other random files we loaded up.
Using various apps – which you can browse through – you can view content from a whole multitude of sources, from FHM to the BBC iPlayer and YouTube. In terms of things to watch, Boxee is one of the strongest media player offerings we've seen.
LoveFilm is promised in the UK, though it hasn't arrived yet. There are, however, some free films available though quality is questionable and anybody with under-18s in the house should go straight to the parental lock features because there's some stuff that young eyes should not be party to. Netflix is provided as the on-demand partner in the US.
More content is needed, but there's enough to be getting on with – especially because of the access to iPlayer and 4OD.
Things are linked up through a Boxee account to which you can attach your Twitter and Facebook accounts as well as link up other apps such as Flickr and other providers that need you to authorise them on the web. You can create an account on the device but you may prefer to do this on the web.
The Boxee Box's great boons are the superb variety of codecs supported as well as the ability to play back Flash video without any issue – or so you'd think. In fact, we found some Flash content quite buggy. BBC iPlayer, for example, opens up the big-screen interface.
When you click on a programme, the standard desktop web page comes up before it goes fullscreen. Only we found that we couldn't get our unit to work properly with this – it just displayed the iPlayer web page and then wouldn't load the video.
This was especially disappointing since we'd seen it working perfectly in an earlier demo.
It's one of the many real problems with the firmware, which Boxee has updated several times recently. Further updates are promised, but it feels like the box has been rushed out for the Christmas period and, at the moment, we'll just have to cope with the bugs.
Web browsing on the device is also nothing short of a horrid experience. The WebKit-based browser with Flash support seems like a good idea in theory, but some multimedia intensive sites simply don't display, while moving the cursor around the screen is so slow it feels like your life is ebbing away. So poor.
The Flash support isn't quite there, though – some multimedia just doesn't display. Content from YouTube, on the other hand, does work well and loads up very quickly in the dedicated app.