Daily Marauder


THINKING OUTSIDE OF THE BOX, OR IN THIS CASE IN IT: BOXEE UNVEILED

THINKING OUTSIDE OF THE BOX, OR IN THIS CASE IN IT: BOXEE UNVEILED

Guest Writer: Martha Rivera

A sold out crowd gathered at the Williamsburg Music Hall in Brooklyn, NY last night for the unveiling of the Boxee beta as well as to catch a glimpse of the highly anticipated Beta Box.

Launched in 2008, Boxee is software that aggregates media content from the web and your personal computer and streams it on your HD television. It searches web based content providers like YouTube, Netflix, MySpaceTV, Blip.TV, CBS.com, Revision3, flickr, and Pandora, among others and brings the content straight to your living room television. Missing still from the list of content providers is the online video site, Hulu. In addition to streaming web content, it also pulls media content from your own personal computer including your ITunes, personal videos and pictures. Boxee is an open source platform allowing users to create their own apps. To date, there are over 300.

“Our biggest challenge is distribution,” said Boxee CEO Avner Ronen.   The hurdle is getting cable affiliates and major content providers, like Hulu on board. At the core of the problem is fear of piracy and concern that the advertising is stripped from the content. However, Boxee pulls online content as is, which includes the advertising that is attached to it. Boxee also has the ability to track a host of analytics far outweighing television’s usage reporting. Ronen is hoping media companies and cable providers will become comfortable once they understand usage.

Four weeks ahead of its wide release at CES, Ronen introduced the beta software and Boxee Box, as well as announced the launch of 3 new apps: the hipster soft-core site Suicide Girls, the online gamer e-zine The Escapist and Clicker, TV guide, entertainment search engine and DVR all rolled into one.


Boxee Beta

Overall, Boxee Beta looks great and is much more user-friendly. The UI has been streamlined with a new layout. The menu, previously hidden, is now front and center. The home screen has been redesigned to feature the main menu, featured content, personal queue and the friend feed.

My favorite social networking feature is the ability to connect to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Any media that your friends or followers share with you will automatically populate on your queue. Too busy to watch videos at work? Don’t have the ability to watch video because you don’t have an office or are on the go? Another feature allows a viewer to send media assets to your queue so you can watch when you get home.

The search function has also been streamlined. Now users can search for movies, TV shows as well as local and online content at once. Boxee Beta populates all content from your computer as well as from any web source that works with Boxee. Of note, you can now mark content as “watched.” Better yet, the search function lets you omit “watched” content from the results.

Boxee focused specifically on TV shows in the Beta redesign. TV shows are now organized by season and episode. You can follow your favorite TV shows, and like Hulu, it will automatically populate your queue with new episodes.

Another new feature is the Global Menu. This menu is essentially the shortcuts screen. It provides quick access to predetermined shortcuts, favorite apps, history, and settings.

Other features include allowing users to interact with the apps without having to download them, a now playing button on every screen allowing easier navigation back to the player, a new Last.fm and flickr interface as well as a main background that changes based on the time of day.

As of this writing, 85% of Boxee’s 700,000 users use a Mac. However, Boxee Beta has not forgotten about its Windows’ friends. It will now run on Direct X, which will mean a better experience for the PC user.

Boxee Box by D-Link

The night also included the highly anticipated unveiling of the Boxee Box. Boxee partnered with D-Link, better known as the makers of wireless routers, to create the hardware. Astro Studios, the cutting edge designers behind products like the X-Box 360 and Nike, designed the sleek cube. This small black submerged cube will sit on top of the many boxes taking up space near your TV. The guys at Boxee hope that eventually you’ll do away with all those boxes and just use the Boxee Box.

The Boxee Box will retail at $200 and will be available for distribution sometime in 2Q10.

Why Boxee?

I’m a three-screen user. I watch TV, while surfing on my laptop, with my phone not far away. Having used the Alpha, I don’t know if I can give up my computer that easily. As I was navigating the web content on Boxee, I found my multi-tasking self wanting to toggle out of the screen to search the web while the video played. Because I was unfamiliar with the navigation, or more like because I’m a specific type of navigator, all of a sudden I felt trapped. According to Andrew Kippen, VP of Marketing, “Boxee is about fighting tradition. It’s streamlining your viewing experience by consolidating it all into one. Boxee is the tip of the iceberg for what’s possible.”

The Boxee Beta version seems much more straightforward. It’s easy-to-use features will allow users to not feel so (excuse the pun) boxed in. Then again, in this case, that’s what the creators of Boxee want you to do. Engage with the content within the box.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


GOT WI-FI?: YOUR BUS DOES PART 2

GOT WI-FI?: YOUR BUS DOES PART 2

magic-bus21

Photo Credit: Esta

Guest Writer: Martha Rivera

The I-95 corridor between NY, DC and Boston is one of the most heavily traveled in the country. As someone who travels between New York and Washington DC several times a year, I’ve gone by plane, train, automobile; you name it. Most commuters know that the best way to travel between these cities is Amtrak. You get a guaranteed departure and arrival time, convenient station locations, plush seating, power outlets, a snack bar on the train, and cocktails. But, my techie friends, the $125 one-way price tag is pretty steep and furthermore the train can’t offer you the one thing you can’t live with out: Wi-Fi.

There is, however, a mode of transportation that can: the coach bus. You probably associate taking a bus with ghetto stations, the Chinatown bus, cramped seats, sketchy people, and overcrowding. Well, times have really changed. In the past year, a slew of bus lines have come onto the scene that not only offer Wi-Fi but quality and comfort too.

Bolt Bus

olt-bus

Owned by the Greyhound Corporation, a Greyhound bus it isn’t. The orange exterior alone screams funky times on wheels. Plus, outlets for your computer, ample leg room, nice lighting, a fair share of eye candy and witty bus drivers make this bus more like Greyhound’s way cooler cousin.

Destinations: Boston, DC, NYC, & Philly

Price: Fares technically start at a $1 and increase as the bus fills up. But unless you book your bus months in advance, plan to spend $24 each way.

Wi-Fi Speed: The Wi-Fi wasn’t fast enough to stream video smoothly or to effectively log on to my company’s online server, but I did get my full share of web surfing. Plus, the added benefit of outlets. Now you don’t need to worry about conserving your battery life, especially if the bus is stuck in traffic.

Survey says:

The Bolt Bus is definitely giving Amtrak a run for its money. If there are no travel set-backs, paying $24 to ride a comfortable leather seat while playing on my laptop beats paying $125 to be able to drink wine freely. Plus, hello, it’s called a flask. Click here to book.

DC2NY

dc2ny

If the Bolt Bus is your cool cousin, the DC2NY is your refined aunt. The quality of the bus is slightly more upscale than the Bolt Bus. You’re provided with complimentary bottled water, seats which conform to your body, flat screen TV’s, and a vote on what movie everyone wants to watch and whether you want a rest stop or not. Now that’s what I call quality.

Desinations: NYC & DC

Price: $28 one way/$50 RT

Wi-Fi Speed: The password protection seemed a little odd unless they really are convinced that someone will tailgate the entire way down with a computer in hand to steal some connection. But apart from that, I had an uninterrupted connection the entire ride down. Not fast enough for uninterrupted streaming video, but fast enough to get the surfing job done.

Survey says:

The DC2NY is a well run bus line. The customer is the number one priority and their needs are always taken into consideration. The drivers were also very courteous and friendly. Its only flaw is no power outlets. Click here to book.

MegaBus

megabus

UK-based double-decker Megabus burst onto the New York bus scene last March. This double decker bus promised convenient online booking, guaranteed seating, luggage storage, and Wi-Fi.

Destinations: Baltimore, Boston, DC, NYC, Philly, & upstate New York

Price: Fares start at a $1 and increase until it’s full. Price caps out at $21 one way

Wi-Fi Speed: There was no Wi-Fi! Or at least, that was the case on the bus I took. When I asked the driver about it, he looked at me like he’d never heard of this thing called the interweb. That being said, there are ‘reports’ that they do have it. Whatever…

Survey says:

I thought taking a double decker bus meant I could live out my anglophile fantasies. Instead, I felt claustrophobic, the seats were cramped, there was no overhead luggage storage, no heat, and more importantly NO WI-FI. Oh, and the exterior is tacky. Who is that chubby Pillsbury Doughboy look alike on the back end of the bus? Veto. If you’re still down, click here.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]



Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.