August 2nd, 2011, 12:34 PM
Anyone else concerned?
The reason I'm writing this is that today I decided to stop recommending the Boxee Box to friends and family. I've even had two friends purchase one because of my recommendation. Tomorrow I plan on doing a demo for a friend who's looking to purchase one as well but I can no longer recommend this product until the software improves and releases are stable and don't break existing features. I figured by now these annoying little issues would have been resolved and local playback would be flawless.
Here's the deal. I love my Boxee Box. There is no other device out there like it except for building a full on HTPC and even then I can't do everything I'm doing with my Boxee Box. The design is simple, small and power efficient. The interface was built for 10-foot viewing unlike most HTPC skins where they put 8 point font for descriptions and use tiny coverart so they can show some massive fanart picture in the background. I like that if my server is down the wife can still watch shows online without any additional cost.
Now we have to discuss the bad.
Why oh why can't we adjust volume in all apps and video? Adjust master mixer volume and allow for changing through a the menu osd.
AC3 Audio is so much louder than standard mp3 soundtracks that if you're not careful you can blow your speakers out if you forget to lower the volume. Or maybe you have the opposite that you need to crank it up to double the volume to get the same sound levels.
TV and Movie Library:
Browsing is slow. Moving through the library view can be painfully slow as you wait for thumbnails to load and "hopefully" cache.
Thumbnails stop loading. This has been an ongoing issue as many times I will notice that thumbnails aren't loading anymore and I still get the constant rotating circle.
Thumbnail caching isn't working. Thumbnails load only slightly faster when I reenter a library which in my mind means that caching isn't working properly yet.
Thumbnail caching doesn't cache items that aren't in view. Why can't the Boxee cache the items offscreen to improve moving through the library? Or better yet run at night and generate these thumbnails.
Library mode lacks features of others. Mainly what I miss is being able to open a detailed view of a movie and be able to select the main actor and see all the other movies I have that he's in and then play one of those.
Network streaming performance, mainly SMB, isn't consistent between releases. For some reason network performance has gone up and down over the course of the last few releases and even continues that same trend in the RCs.
Network connectivity issues. While the issues I have experienced with my Unraid server have been with the occasional need to reboot the Boxee Box to connect others seem to be constantly having issues after every release.
Wireless in the Boxee Box isn't up to snuff. I wonder if the Boxee team or Dlink is wondering if they should have just went with a 5ghz capable Boxee Box design to decrease wireless streaming issues.
Auto Full Screen. I understand they don't have access programatically to make some of these web videos full screen. My issue is that they could at least put your cursor on the fullscreen button to ease our pain and maybe center the video on the screen as well.
Volume control please. This is a repeat but if they could adjust the master volume and give you a +- button on the "Do you want to: Stay/Leave" page you could control volume on all web content.
Service testing needs to be done daily. When something breaks on your internet content we need fixes ASAP. These sites and services should be tested once or twice a day.
Content needs to be reviewed. I've seen too many posts on content being grabbed incorrectly for different TV Series. Users are being forced to write up lengthy notes on specific episodes that aren't showing or are labelled incorrectly. This is something Boxee should be monitoring and reviewing to make sure users have an accurate "dvr" type interface to access these shows.
We need quality releases. With the RC process now being implemented release quality might get better. In the grand scheme of things I have concerns that there might not be proper internal testing procedures to get us to the point of a rock solid release that doesn't break something else.
What I'm most concerned about is that bugs are rampant in the software and new releases introduce new issues. What else can I say, if you look at each release something else little gets broken; Audio Sync after pausing, seek issues with the new slider, DVI issues, Dobly Digital passthrough and many many more.