We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: there’s no need for cable television in this day and age. The Internet is simply full of sites where you can watch TV on the Internet with your television for free; hook your television up to a computer and you can enjoy it all without paying expensive cable bills.
Previously we’ve highlighted Boxee as a great way to bring all these shows together. Since then Boxee’s advanced from alpha – the preliminary stage of production””to releasing its first public beta.
The beta is a huge improvement in terms of both layout and conception. In fact, using the Boxee beta will change the way you look at Internet video””possibly forever. Best of all, you can use it regardless of the type of computer you have: Linux, Mac and even Windows. Let’s check it out!
Boxee beta’s got a slick new interface. Load up the program and here’s what you’ll see:
All the media you’re trying to access – Movies, Music, TV Shows, Photos and Apps – are front and center, as is the ability to simply browse your hard drive. Below that is your feed, which shows you what friends are watching in the style of Facebook or Twitter; featured things, which shows you cool things the Boxee development team wants to share with you; and your queue, which shows you new episodes of your favorite shows and Podcasts. From here any of Boxee’s features are only a few clicks away.
Boxee does a lot, but what it’s really known for is TV shows – letting you watch TV on the Internet at no cost. Click the “TV Shows” button in the main interface and you’re presented with a vast library of shows.
The Boxee alpha featured plugins for individual sites, such as Hulu, Comedy Central and CBS. This arrangement gave access to all content, but depended on users to figure out which shows were on which site. This worked, but was far from ideal.
As you can see, the Boxee beta puts all shows in the same place: the TV Library.
Every single show on the Internet – or at least a good attempt at that – is listed in the “Show Library.” Click a show you want, and Boxee will automatically play that show from whatever site it happens to be hosted on. You don’t need to know that House MD is on Hulu, Star Trek is on CBS and South Park is on Comedy Central – it’s all just on Boxee.
As if this wasn’t enough, you can add shows you like to your personal collection of shows, and recieve updates when there are new episodes. It’s like having a DVR, only without the need for a cable subscription and massive amounts of hard drive space.
Already have downloaded TV shows on your computer? Boxee can find them too, and will add them to your TV show collection. That’s right: online shows and shows on your computer are accessible in the same place. How’s that for simple?
If you want to bring the many sources of free streaming television online and your personal collection into one easy-to-use interface, you won’t find anything better than Boxee.
* Editor’s note – please be aware that the availability of shows will depend on your geographical location. Some shows may be unavailable to users outside the United States and Canada *
Music, Photos & Movies
But don’t go thinking Boxee’s just for brain-rotting television””it also works fabulously for brain-rotting movies. Point it towards your collection and it’ll index it all for you, complete with reviews and other tidbits of information.
Your music and photos get treated just as well. Having these things accessible from your television makes sharing much easier than when they’re on a laptop. Just launch Boxee and load up what you’re looking for with just a few clicks of a remote.
If this isn’t enough for you, why not check out one of the hundreds of third party “apps” which bring you photos, videos and music from all corners of the web? Among my personal favorites is a plugin for 1Cast, an online aggregate of video news from sources like BBC, CBC, CNBC and the Associated Press. If you want a certain website’s content to integrate with Boxee, there’s a good chance it already does.
Be sure to tune in soon for a feature on the best Boxee apps from our very own Stefan Neagu.
The Boxee beta brings the best media the Internet has to offer and your personal media all under one roof. The interface to watch TV on Internet is clean and easy to browse with a remote, but works great with a mouse and keyboard if you don’t have one.
Boxee can be downloaded here for Linux, Mac and Windows. Give it a go and then let us know your thoughts about it. What could be improved? What new features would you like to see?