A rowdy crowd of 650 gathered at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn for Boxee’s highly anticipated unveiling of its set top box tonight.
Boxee creates open source software that brings on-demand content from the Internet and home networks to TVs, and while the software has just reached beta, it is enlisting hardware partners to embed it on their devices. (Until now, it’s been available for OS X, Windows, Linux, and as a hack for Apple TV.) The $200 Boxee Box is the company’s first branded hardware device, manufactured by D-Link. It will become available in the second quarter of next year.
The Box is cube shaped, and is almost as tall as a soda can. It comes equipped with built-in Wi-Fi, and attaches to TVs through HDMI, optical cables, or even RCA cables. The display is 1080p.
Openness is a central theme of the Box: It is built to be expanded and modified. SD slots and USB ports allow users to attach external storage, as well as Web cams and other devices. Boxee is also encouraging developers to extend its software, and will provide APIs for tinkering with it.
Additionally, a private beta of Boxee was launched today, and several partners joined Boxee on stage to show up their applications. New content providers on the software include Clicker, The Escapist, and Suicide Girls. And students from New York University demonstrated a program called Trend Lines, which filters content based upon what topics are trending online.
Boxee has updated its software to work with Microsoft’s DirectX multimedia APIs, and is creating a 64-bit installation for Ubuntu Linux. Other changes include a streamlined user interface, as well as extended social networking capabilities.