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boxee-logoWe’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: there’s no need for cable television in this day and age Ditch Your Cable Company With Free, Legal Alternatives Ditch Your Cable Company With Free, Legal Alternatives Read More . 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 Boxee - Cool Media Center for Mac and Ubuntu Boxee - Cool Media Center for Mac and Ubuntu Read More 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!

Interface

Boxee beta’s got a slick new interface. Load up the program and here’s what you’ll see:

boxee main page

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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.

TV Shows

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.

boxee tv show 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

boxee 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.

boxee photos

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.

Apps!

boxee apps

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.

Conclusion

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?

  1. Carol-Leah
    February 7, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    I have no idea what I've done wrong but all I get is a page with 'home' 'friends' 'feeds' etc. At no time do I get the page that gives me the option of TV or movies.

  2. eric
    January 17, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Sadly, I have issues with beta not playing any Flash videos so I had to switch back to alpha. The beta interface seems a lot more polished but if I can't watch videos what's the point? I tried on Vista and 7. I guess I'll try again when they release a new version...

  3. LarchOye
    January 17, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Uh, no need for cable unless you watch sports you mean?

    • Justin Pot
      January 17, 2010 at 12:33 pm

      The Justin.tv plugin takes care of sports for me, though there's a legal subscription-based plugin for baseball. More are reportedly on the way.

  4. Gav
    January 16, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    I remember seeing an article on here awhile ago about using an application called Hotspot Shield to get around US-Only content applications like this...

  5. mchlbk
    January 16, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Hmmm... Wouldn't one be able to trick the geoblocking thing with a proxy or something like that?

  6. Aaron
    January 16, 2010 at 7:23 am

    I tried the new Boxee interface and I hate it. Hulu Desktop is hard enough to navigate around, but Boxee is a nightmare. It also doesn't allow me to re-size the window--instead it takes up my whole screen whether I like it or not, and it also doesn't allow me to move it over to my second monitor.

    Also, I tried using the Boxee bookmarklet for queuing up YouTube videos. The videos are put in my queue, but they don't actually play.

    • Justin Pot
      January 16, 2010 at 8:24 am

      I find navigation really easy, but subjective things tend to be...subjective.

      It's really not meant to be run on a desktop--it's meant to be the only program running on a computer that's hooked up to a TV. But if you want to leave full screen, all you need to do is hit the "\" key. Yeah, bit of a weird key for that function, but it'll put Boxee in a nice manageable window you can resize to your heart's content.

      I haven't had any trouble with YouTube. What OS are you running? I will say that this is still being tested, and with millions of dollars worth of investment backing you can be it's going to be awesome by the end of the year.

      • Aaron
        January 16, 2010 at 8:26 am

        I'm using Win7 Premium. Thanks for the tip on the "\", I'll give that a try.

  7. roger
    January 16, 2010 at 6:14 am

    I followed your link and got the bottom half of the home page,the top of my screen shows the bottom of the intro video, and some dead links, register, download, connect and login. Lower down there is a link to sign up for the pre-release beta which leads to a message from google saying "It looks like "Boxee Beta Pre-release Sign-up" is switched off"

  8. Michael
    January 15, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Although I like boxee's desktop feel. I still like http://www.Zinc.tv much more. Not only because they have more content, but they keep things nice, simple and organized.

  9. JK III
    January 15, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    I am not even gonna check it, I know I'll be disappointed. You know, with all that "US only" thing.

    • Marton
      January 15, 2010 at 12:28 pm

      Yeah, I agree with JK III. Too bad it's US only. Europeans want to be thrilled too. Maybe multilanguage stuff, that would be cool, with DVDs around you can choose the audio for your ear.

      • Justin Pot
        January 15, 2010 at 12:37 pm

        There's two sides to that. Depending on where you live, you might be surprised at how many shows you can get. The Video Library only shows content available in your country.

        I'm in the states, and there are plenty of British and Canadian shows I like that don't show up for me. There are also apps for a variety of different countries. Your mileage may vary, but it just might be worth checking out anyway.

      • anoop
        January 15, 2010 at 12:50 pm

        Hey, i want to watch BBC. I'm screwed aren't i?

        • Justin Pot
          January 15, 2010 at 12:55 pm

          Pretty much.

          I should point out that this is no fault of Boxee, though; it's the content providers that are geo-blocking content.

  10. anoop
    January 15, 2010 at 11:47 am

    simply put. boxee is brilliant. Also, don't forget about Boxee Box and the Boxee Remote. I have been cable free for over a year now thanks to boxee.

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