Streaming television is a wonderful thing. When the DVR’s electronic program guide (EPG) is thrown off by a football game, you haven’t missed the show. Can’t afford the internet and cable TV? You haven’t missed the show (unless it’s The Mentalist). You can watch it online. I use them all: Hulu, Hulu Desktop, Clicker, TV Guide DVR, TV.com, FindInternetTV, and so on. I like Clicker the best. What I don’t like is leaving the media center-style 10 foot interface. I tried the alpha Boxee and found its merits outweighed by its shortcomings. But a new release deserves another chance, right? Good news. Boxee Beta is much easier to navigate. And the one area where every other media center comes up short, streaming TV shows, is where Boxee really shines. Watch the video after the break, to see what I mean.
While the new Boxee remote looks pretty awesome, I use the iPhone-iTouch app which is equally awesome. Navigation now is a snap.
Combine that with the Boxee Windows Media Center Plug-in. Into Boxee. Do your Boxee thing. Close Boxee. Automatically back in Windows Media Center.
From the Boxee.tv website, one can add feeds that will appear (beneath a stack of Boxee staff recommendations) in the Feeds column. There is a Featured column for featured content. There is a Queue column. Couple this with the Boxee bookmarklet. If you find a video you don’t have time to watch. Click the bookmarklet. It adds the video to your queue to watch later when you open Boxee. There is no better way I have found for watching internet TV or videos. Too bad CBS doesn’t make The Mentalist available online. Too bad the video quality of CBS streams is soooo poor. But if you’ve got a fast enough CPU and a decent chipset or graphics card, streaming TV looks pretty good in most cases.
The two biggest flaws in Windows Media Center are failure to scrape metadata for movies and poor Internet TV. The Boxee plug-in replaces the flawed internet TV interface beautifully. Congratulations to the Boxee team on a job well done. When they get their scraper issues and Feeds column straightened out, they will offer the perfect band-aid.