I'm a long-time XBMC user (and part-time evangelist) on linux, and am trying out boxee pretty much for the first time. After playing with boxee for a couple hours, I have some thoughts. In no particular order...
- I'm using the mceusb remote, and XBMC uses the channel down and channel up buttons to page through lists. This is set identically in Lircmap.xml in boxee, but it doesn't seem to work anywhere. Would be great if this was fixed. It should be active in every view. I really miss it.
- While watching videos the left and right buttons skip forward/back roughly 30 seconds, just like XBMC. That's great. But for some reason the up/down buttons control the volume instead of jumping forward/back longer distances. Also the ffwd/rew buttons appear to work identically to the right/left buttons instead of actually fast forwarding or rewinding like in XBMC. Why?
- Also the Back button doesn't do the instant-reply 8 second skip backwards, but that one might be intentional. It's probably better that the back button be reserved for going, well, back. I do miss the instant-reply functionality, though, and think it should be default-mapped to another button.
- I miss the ability to find out detailed information about the movie I'm watching. Stuff like CPU usage, framerate, codecs, etc. I understand you're going for endusers here, but it's still in alpha and XBMC is still in beta, and lots of stuff (like ASF/WMV files, my favorite bug) still doesn't work.
- The interface acts inconsistently. Sometimes when hitting the stop button to end a video, I'm back on the screen I started it from. (The proper behavior). Other times, I'm sent back to the main window. Same deal with the submenus. Select video, then TV shows, then hit left to go back to the menu-- you're back at the main menu again, rather than selected TV shows. This is offputting.
I really feel this is a major issue with the whole interface and should be addressed everywhere. With the menu popping out to the left, it feels intuitive to go left to go back to the previous screen, just like on TiVo. If you want to force people to use the back button, the popout menu on the left should be repurposed.
Using the popout menu on the right for view settings is unconventional but consistent, so it's not a problem.
- How can you opt out of sharing your watched media with friends and/or the public? What if someone were to say, watch those "xxx" podcasts, and their elderly arthritic maiden aunt were one of their friends? She would have a conniption! Same deal with local video.
- Would like the ability to show file sizes and dates in the file "source" views. Also it would be nice to sort by something other than name-- by the fact that you have a sort option at all, I'm sure this is on the todo list. Lastly, would like the option for a straight-up files view, no huge thumbnail anywhere.
- View settings are not saved. I like the view with the list on the left and big thumbnail on the right for movies, it doesn't save. Every time I go back to my movies, I see the grid of thumbnails.
- As boxee is being used with a HTPC, it really should have some built-in way to start it up from the remote. I setup slightly modified versions of my scripts from the XBMC linux forums to do it, but endusers can't be expected to have that level of sophistication.
- The plain tab button pushing boxee to fullscreen is terrible. People use alt-tab all the time, and I found it restoring/maximizing boxee when I was writing this through VNC. It was annoying. I suggest using F11 (like browsers), or alt-enter (the windows common shortcut). I don't believe OSX has a maximize function, as it doesn't fit the paradigm, but the equivalent of alt-tab does exist on OSX so it's got to be annoying there too.
- When streaming video there's no indication how much video has been buffered locally versus the user's current location in the stream. This is useful if your network connection is bandwidth limited, or the site you're streaming from is slow.
- I uploaded a little picture for my profile and it doesn't show up when logging in to the application. That's a bit of a bummer.
- And now for the pros! I love the internet video and audio functionality. Everything "just works" amazingly well with hulu, comedy central, revision3, etc. That's one area that XBMC has always fallen down; the XBMC python scripts always break due to lack of maintenance and never really worked all that well in the first place. I also appreciate the idea of social integration, although I'm a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to social networking and don't use anything but linkedin for work.
A lot of the above is somewhat negative, but some of it is just that I'm so comfortable with PM3 that I fear change. I won't be using boxee over xbmc, but I will use it for streaming internet video, and I'm very eagerly looking forward to further development!