Boxee gave a preview of the long-awaited Boxee Beta release in New York today. Frustratingly, the Boxee Beta won’t be available for public download until January 7 (at the soonest).
Speaking as one who has breathlessly awaited the arrival of Netflix streaming via Boxee (on other than a Mac) for over a year since it was first promised, I can’t help wondering how $10M of venture funding has done so little to make Boxee progress faster.
Based on CEO Avner Ronen’s description on Boxee’s blog, however, the enhancements in the Boxee Beta are indeed numerous. They include…
Redesigned home screen
I’ve never been a fan of the extreme emphasis of social networking data on the Boxee Alpha’s homescreen. In the Alpha, playing a desired video — even if you know just where to find it — takes a minimum of about eight clicks.
In contrast, the Beta’s completely-redesigned home screen and “global menu” are designed to bring direct links to helpful resources, local and online content, and “favorite” apps front and center in the user experience. Hopefully, this means locating and enjoying desired content will now be no more than three or four clicks from startup.
Redesigned home screen and new global menu
(Click each to enlarge)
Another significant enhancement, according to Ronen, is that the Beta treats online (streaming) and local media equivalently — that is, you can search for and play either from the same screens.
Below are several screenshots of the Boxee Beta’s movies, videos, queue, and apps selection screens:
(Click each image to enlarge)
Ronen points out that in addition to these visible enhancements, many changes also were made beneath the surface. These reportedly include:
- Bug fixes
- Performance improvements
- Official support for OS X “Snow Leopard” and Ubuntu “Karmic”
- New apps — including Neflix streaming support on Windows
Finally, Ronen notes that with the Beta release, Boxee’s graphical engine has migrated from from OpenGL to DirectX, allowing it to take advantage of Direct X video acceleration. In that regard, a collaboration with Nvidia allows the silicon vendor’s ION platform to offload video processing with DXVA and Flash 10.1. The net result of this, Ronen says, is that “there is now a long list of affordable Windows-based devices that can turn into a kick-ass media center (e.g. Acer Revo, Dell Zino, HP Mini).”
For more details, check out Ronen’s post on Boxee’s website.
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