Boxee Beta: Finally Ready for Primetime (Just About)

Long the nerd connoisseur's do-it-all media software, Boxee has bigger ambitions. Not just a box. But the conquer-the-whole-world, embedded-on-every-TV kind. And the newest release of Boxee looks mighty capable of doing just that.

The UI's been redesigned with a new home page (up top), that's divided into three sections: The feed, which pulls in video and photo recommendations from your friends via Twitter and Facebook; Featured content, which is stuff Boxee highlights; and the queue, where you dump everything you want or plan to watch (for instance, you can add the video from any web page to your queue with a Boxee bookmarklet).

Boxee Beta: Finally Ready for Primetime (Just About)

The other major UI change is the new global menu, which'll instantly drop you into any of Boxee's major sections, like movies, photos, TV or your favorites.

What looked impressive during the demo was how cleanly it aggregated both local and online sources of video content—that is, it collect and treats all video the same, whether it's from Netflix or on your hard drive. It's just all one big, searchable library. TV shows are organized more cleanly, too, by seasons and episodes.

Boxee Beta: Finally Ready for Primetime (Just About)

Boxee's pushing its "apps" hard, and there's a few new ones, like the Suicide Girls one here—essentially, they're customized browsers that drop you into videos or pics or whatever. Clicker is probably the most interesting, in that it's a video show search engine of sorts, scouring the web for shows from multiple content sources, making it easy to drop into your Boxee queue.

On the technical side, Windows users will be a lot happier, since the backend has been rewritten to use DirectX instead of OpenGL, and it supports full graphics acceleration from Nvidia's Ion chips, meaning cheap PCs will be able to play 1080p video through Boxee. (Which makes us think even more strongly that the Boxee box is gonna be an Ion-based machine.

We'll see more of the Boxee box tonight, hopefully, and definitely more at CES next month, where it's gonna make its full debut. Which is where we'll hear more about Boxee's other "device partners," who'll be sticking Boxee on their own boxes in 2010. In other words, Boxee may very well be the next Netflix streaming app—embedded on anything that'll handle it, from TVs to Blu-ray players.

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[Boxee]