As the winner of CES 2010's Last Gadget Standing segment, the Boxee Box by D-Link has shown that it has mass appeal. And why not? This is a device that promises to bring the internet to your TV and we all know that the internet = free. Running on the Boxee program that's available for free download (Windows, Mac, Linux versions), the Boxee Box is able to organize your own media while gathering internet streaming feeds into one interface. Throw in the remote control, large TV-friendly fonts, the ability to share your media favorites with your friends on social networks and it's a clear winner.
Unfortunately, while it remains a very attractive media center here in Singapore (if and when it arrives) and should be a strong rival to HDD media boxes like WD's Live TV with its 1080p HD playback (it uses NVIDIA's Tegra 2), its edge is blunted as some of these popular internet streaming sources don't work here. Hulu for instance is a popular TV streaming site that's unavailable for users outside the US. Pandora is another service (music streaming) that is limited to the US only.
While there are plans to extend these sites internationally (and hacks to get around them), the sad truth is copyright and licensing issues are the main barriers to rolling out these services to the entire world. And these issues are set to become more widespread as TV manufacturers get more heavily into internet TV. On newer and upcoming TVs, one can browse and stream directly from these sites, but what's the point if only YouTube works?
It's a complaint that may ultimately fall on deaf ears, just like how we don't get the iTunes store here. But it's long overdue for the content producers to get their act together and make it easier for users to access their content. There's an entire generation that's growing up with no qualms about getting everything for free online. The reluctance of producers to sign the deals to allow legit parties to do so means that when the day comes when the door is finally open, they may find that there's no one waiting behind.
Vincent Chang / Former Senior Tech Writer
Vincent has written enough about tech to know that he doesn't know enough about tech. But that's not keeping him from going jargon-heavy about processors and mobos. After all, "you can't stop the signal".