If you live in an area where your only hope for TV is a satellite dish do not despair. All you need is a decent DSL connection and Boxee (begin despairing if you cannot muster at least a 1.5Mpbs connection). I’ve been using it for a few weeks now on my new Vizio 37″ LCD TV and it works like a charm.
Boxee is a slick GUI interface face built off the XMBC project. It gathers together all the internet video and music channels (think Hulu, or the online content from ABC, CBS, etc). This includes those sites built around streaming video like Revision3, NASA, or even people like Leo Laporte who are creating an empire of video podcasts, effectively creating their his own television station on the Internet.
In short, you get dozens upon dozens of separate channels of content. It can also tap into Netflix if you have an account – putting everything in one convenient spot. If you have a home server like an HP Mediasmart or your own homebrewed server, it can even aggregate that. It’s another great option for playing your own home movies, photos, or music out of your entertainment center.
So what do you need to make this work?
1) A TV that accepts a goodly number of ports. Having an rgb/vga port is very handy if you plan to run Boxee off your computer or laptop. A spare HDMI port works for those with newer video cards.
2) Something to run Boxee on. Boxee is very veristile. You can run it on an XBox 360, off a laptop, your desktop or HTPC (Home Theatre PC). You can even install it on an AppleTV. A favorite device is the Mac Mini.
3) Though you could stop there, a nice Home Server like the HP Mediasmart Server is great for storing all your movies, photos, music and other media since it can be streamed to whatever box you’ve installed Boxee on.
Why go through all this trouble? Well, even if you do have cable access in your area, most channels are crap. You pay upwards of $50 a month for hundreds of channels. How much of that do you really watch?
If you can stand to wait until a show has aired, you can see just about everything you care about the next day or the next week for free. In short, patience will save you hundreds a year and thousands over the course of a few years. Plus, you get access to content you could never see only through cable.
Another nice trick to Boxee is that people can write apps for it that will connect Boxee to their video or music feed. This allows companies or individuals to continue adding channels. You pick and choose which channels you want installed. Pretty awesome!
Worst case you go and install this on your laptop or computer and have quick access to television from your desktop.