The second half of 2010 is being dominated by set-top boxes that will give you the ability to playback streaming, on demand video, save movies and TV shows on your device, rent for a small fee, etc.
Of course each product has different functions. We aren't here to tell you which device is better, that's for you to decide based on your needs. However, we are here to compare some of the features of two popular upcoming set-top boxes:
Apple TV – $99. Just under $100 is an excellent price. It's very tempting, because even average consumers can justify the price. It's much less than most set-top boxes run. Your cheapest bet next to this is a dedicated DVD player or a PlayStation 2.
For the price, you get:
– Apple TV
– Apple Remote
– Power Supply
Boxee – $199 – Boxee costs twice as much as Apple TV. $200 isn't a lot of money, but it feels like a much larger chunk of cash than the $99 that buys Apple TV. However, there are so many features packed into this box, that it may justify the price.
For the price you get:
– Boxee Box
– HDMI Cable
– Power supply
Well, Glee isn't a favorite around iSmashPhone, but we won't deny that it has a huge fanbase
Apple TV – The iTunes library is constantly growing, as is the amount of content available on Netflix streaming. Some of the biggest advantages of Apple TV come from the deals that the company was able to work out with movie studios. 99-cent rentals of TV shows, ad-free is a great start.
Movies will be priced a bit higher, $3.99 for a rental, but the advantage is the delivery time. These movies will be available the day that they land on DVD and Blu-Ray. Owners of other devices running on iOS will also appreciate the integration between their various gadgets. Keep in mind that Apple TV seems to run on iOS, so Flash content is probably out of the question.
Boxee – Boxee is not nearly as limited as Apple's box, and depending on who you are, that can be the factor that makes one better over the other. Also worth noting is that Boxee delvers a lot of free content. Want Hulu on your TV? Here it is! Yes, that content is ad-supported, but it's all worth the ability to watch what you want when you want it. If it lets us view content from SouthParkStudios.com, we're in.
Note that Boxee also plays all DRM free content. This means any web video, music and all other media from the internet. That's a lot of content. Even if it just seems like "amateur hour."
Apple TV - Apple TV has a more traditional remote with the up and down buttons, and simple navigation. The play and pause buttons are there, a menu button and not much else. It's apparent that some of the design comes from the iPod line, and Apple's philosophy of simplicity in their devices. Remember that you can also download the Remote App, which will let you control your Apple TV over wifi with an iDevice.
Boxee – This remote is very cool. One side of the remote goes for the simple design elements similar to what one would find on Apple TV. A button for navigation, a button for play/pause and what looks to be a menu button.
Flip the remote around….
Full QWERTY keyboard. This comes in handy for searches. Anyone with the older model Apple TV knows how much of a pain it is to do a search using the packed-in remote.
Apple TV – Let's face it, the Apple TV is kind of cute. It's little, and weighs only half a pound. It won't take up much room no matter where you put it, because it's just short of four inches wide and four inches deep with a height of just under an inch. The thing is barely noticeable wherever you put it.
Boxee – Well Boxee is kind of a big boy compared to the new Apple TV. The set-top box isn't very much bigger than Apple TV:
Height: 4.5 inches
Width: 4.5 inches
Depth: 4.6 inches
Weight: 2.5 pounds
However, it's the weight and height. No doubt there is a lot going on inside Boxee, it has a lot more in the way of functionality. It still doesn't weigh nearly as much as most devices that sit alongside your TV set, but it's doesn't fit in your pocket either. (Then one could argue you don't NEED to carry either of these devices around in your pocket, in which case we would say, "You are right.")
Apple TV – The following comes directly from Apple
– Processor A4 Chip.
– Optical Audio
– 10/100BASE-T Ehternet
– Built-in IR Receiver
– Micro USB
- 802.11n Wi-Fi (a/b/g compatible)
– 2.4GHz and 5GHz
Audio Formats Photo Formats
Boxee – The following information is from Amazon's product description
Note: Neither device has internal storage, but Boxee's two USB ports allow for external storage. It doesn't seem that there is a way to connect such devices to Apple's mini-USB port. But both devices should get very interesting as soon as the modders get a crack at them.
There you have it, tech specs for each of the two set-top boxes. Know that this isn't the definitive guide to what you should buy. The devices aren't even shipping yet. This is more of a spec sheet that tells you what comes with each. Your best bet is to hold off on a pre-order, unless you are absolutely positive you want to choose one over the other.
Have a look at the boxes after they launch. See which fits your needs. As we mentioned before, we are sure there will be hacks and mods for these devices sometime after launch. That's when things should become very interesting.
Another simple solution if you don't have Apple TV is to grab some of those iPod/iPad to component cables for about $50 bucks. If you already own the iDevice, may be a decent way to do it.