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File Browser

The last resort for stored content access is the File Browser (Figure 12), which is supposed to let you browse Boxee's local file system, plus SMB and UPnP network shares. I say last resort, because using it to find content is the most difficult way, with no filtering to help you get quickly to where you want to go.

In the screenshot, you see two UPnP shares, which I had previously added via the Media shares settings.

Boxee file browser
Figure 12: Boxee file browser

Clicking the Network folder should let you browse all SMB network shares. But it would only see one of my computer's network shares and none of the SMB shares on QNAP or Synology NASes.

Using the browser, I was able to get to and play music, photos and the little video content that I have. I was happy that Boxee easily played everything, even the MJPEG .avi files from my Canon digicam, which have thwarted all the dedicated media player boxes I've tried to date.

One last issue I found is that Boxee wouldn't play a slideshow from a UPnP share. It would see all the files in a folder just fine. But when I tried to start a slideshow, I'd get a screen like Figure 13, which told me that Boxee recognized only one photo in the folder that I was trying to play a slideshow from.

 No slideshow for me from UPnP
Figure 13: No slideshow for me from UPnP

I have to say, though, that Boxee (or someone) did an excellent job with the Netflix app (Figure 14). We have a Roku Netflix player, which we use only occasionally because of the dearth of decent "Play Instantly" content and because it's such a pain in the butt to have to visit Netflix.com to change our Queue.

Boxee Netflix app
Figure 14: Boxee Netflix app

But I was very pleased to see that the Boxee app changed all that. You not only can change your queue, but also browse recommended and new content as well as search. Play quality was excellent, as it always has been using the Roku box, even with our only 3 Mbps down Internet connection.

And even the Acer Revo 1600 played Netflix content flawlessly. I may have to upgrade my Internet connection to the maximum 5 Mbps service that I can get so that Netflix will serve me HD.

It seems like Netflix has been getting a bit more quality content lately, a trend that I hope continues. Given my long history with Netflix (I've been a user since they started), my satisfaction with their product and the amazingly high quality streams they produce with relatively little bandwidth, I think they could easily kill off Hulu, PlayOn and any other Internet content aggregators. If only they could get the networks to come to the table with reasonable terms.

Closing Thoughts

Oh, Boxee. How I had wanted to love you and quickly end my search for my partner in accessing Internet TV. But, unless a miracle happens, you're not the one for me. I'm sure your entourage is working their butts off to kill off the swarm of bugs that threatens to engulf you, even as you continue to garner award after award. But I'd rather skip your awkward adolescent phase and let others help you make your way to productive adulthood. Adieu until then.

Next time, despite my bias against it, I'll be looking at Windows Media Center as a possible Internet TV dance partner.

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