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D-Link Boxee Box review

On paper, the media streamer to beat. In practice...

Our Verdict

For

  • Vast codec support
  • Smart and slick interface
  • Good remote
  • Great design

Against

  • Plenty of bugs
  • Some playback problems
  • Too costly

We'll tell you the truth – we were really looking forward to seeing the D-Link Boxee Box. A previous demo we'd seen was definitely favourable, while in terms of style and power we were looking forward to something that could better the recently-revamped Apple TV.

Indeed, we were looking forward to something that could kick the Apple TV completely into touch – after all, D-Link's Boxee Box is hardly short on power, being boosted by the on-board Intel Atom CE4100, having gone away from the Nvidia Tegra 2-based box previewed almost a year ago.

The Atom hardware is strikingly similar to the CE4150 that has been launched in Google TV devices to date, though that's where the similarity ends it seems. There's also 1GB of flash storage inside, as well as 1GB of RAM.

D Link boxee box

The other side of this box is the Boxee software – available on the PC for some time – has also been noted as a speedy and flexible interface, if not one that's exactly bug-free.

D Link boxee box

Sadly, at the end of our previous demo, the first warning sign appeared – the Boxee Box was to cost £199. This isn't exactly a surprise. After all, aside from the lack of storage, you basically have a netbook inside this lopped-off cube. However, the Apple TV is now at £99 and, while that's definitely worth the money over and above cheaper competitors, could the Boxee Box really soar so high that it justifies such a high price point?

Firstly, it's worth noting that pretty much all of the Boxee Box's problems are software related. And it's bugs, rather than a fundamental problem with the interface. Indeed, like the Apple TV, navigating around the interface is slick and fast.

D Link boxee box review

The hardware, for D-Link's part, is super and the design of the box itself is definitely different, with a sliced-off corner and glossy finish. We're fans, even if the style divided the office. It's definitely not that great if you have a narrow-shelved cabinet under your TV.

The remote, for example, is superbly finished and the keyboard on the reverse, while certainly not a cure for all controller ills, is a competent way to enter short bursts of text such as search terms or passwords. Some have commented on how the remote lacks a trackpad, but we didn't find it a problem.

D Link boxee box

D Link boxee box

Connectivity is excellent – Ethernet (Wi-Fi is also included), HDMI, optical and composite audio plus two USB sockets and the power.

There's also an SD card slot on the side, which you can load media from. Performance over Wi-Fi also didn't pose problems – in the main part we streamed from a Netgear ReadyNAS over a Linksys WAG160N.

D Link boxee box review

D Link boxee box review

The box contains plenty of (standard quality) cables including HDMI, though there are few instructions to help you other than a quick start guide.

D Link boxee box review

Tech Specs

Product TypeNetwork Audio/Video Player
EthernetYes
Wireless LANYes
HDMIYes
Internet StreamingYes
DLNA CertifiedYes
Brand NameD-Link
Audio FormatsAAC, FLAC, MP3, WAV, WMA
Video FormatsAVI, DivX, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV, XviD
Scan Format1080p
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11b/g/n
Ethernet TechnologyFast Ethernet
USBYes
Video Signal StandardHDTV
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC)
ColourBlack
Sound SystemDolby Digital
Image FormatsJPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG, TIFF
ManufacturerD-Link Systems, Inc
Product ModelDSM-380
Product NameBoxee Box DSM-380 Network Media Player
Manufacturer Part NumberDSM-380
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.dlink.co.uk
Marketing Information

We get it you want Internet freedom on your TV, but you want it to be the stuff you actually want to watch in HD and you want to enjoy it from the comfort of your couch. We're all over it-introducing the Boxee Box by D-Link: click, follow, watch - you are now in full command of your TV for the first time. No rules, no contracts.

ProtocolsWEP, WPA2, WPA, SMB
Scanning ModesProgressive Scan