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Hardware Hacking Media Television

Build a BoxeeBox and Wean Yourself From Cable 335

Since I've been having serious problems with satellite all week, DeviceGuru's submission was really interesting to me. He says "Inspired by Roku's awesome Netflix video download box and impressed with Boxee's free A/V media center platform, it was merely a matter of time before DeviceGuru blogger Rick Lehrbaum would create the BoxeeBox, an Ubuntu-powered HTPC with Boxee serving as its primary media center UI. Based on a 2.5GHz Core 2 Duo CPU, the BoxeeBox has the look and feel of consumer A/V equipment and packs 2GB RAM, 1TB HDD, CD/DVD drive, USB, Firewire, HDMI, DVI-D, RGB, and 8-channel surround sound audio."
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Build a BoxeeBox and Wean Yourself From Cable

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  • Sub $500? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @09:59AM (#26811649) Journal
    That's nice and all, but how about something sub $300. If one of these can be built sub $200 (including the tuner), I would buy it today.
  • Re:Sub $500? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @10:21AM (#26811941)

    Buy and old xbox. It's not going to do HD content, but Boxee is a fork of XBMC. [] Using XBMC+rtorrent+pytvshotws [] I have what can be assumed to be a near identical setup. The 'server' is in a different room and it has 2TB of space.

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @10:25AM (#26811987) Homepage Journal

    Buy and old xbox.

    Any ideas on how to buy an old Xbox console without buying one that has version 1.6 firmware []?

  • Re:Sub $500? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @10:29AM (#26812039)
    What good would a channel guide do you if you cancel your cable and no longer have "channels" to tune into? Sounds like some people haven't really thought this through.
  • Re:Sub $500? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @10:29AM (#26812045) Journal

    You would need to sacrifice some components for cheaper ones and sometimes these systems are tweaked so they do one thing and they do it well, but just barely.

    Which reminds me, from what I read of the article (before I restarted my browser and discovered the site was Slashdotted) they spent something like $190 on THE CASE! Why the case? I'm thinking I should start making cases in my garage out of plywood and selling them for $100 each.

  • by CopaceticOpus ( 965603 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @10:32AM (#26812081)

    The Popcorn Hour boxes look very nice. Still, they are rather limited by their lack of ability to play web based video. I'd like to see a box around the size and cost of the Popcorn Hour box, which adds the following:

    1. Runs Boxee, in order to give access to Hulu, YouTube, and many other online videos.
    2. Is a licensed Netflix device.

    Maybe they are working on it, or Roku is, or someone at Boxee is. Whoever gets there first should find plenty of waiting customers.

  • Re:Sub $500? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by internerdj ( 1319281 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @10:34AM (#26812119)
    HTPC cases are expensive because they can be.
  • by SilverJets ( 131916 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @10:48AM (#26812323) Homepage

    So then it doesn't free you from cable since you cannot reliably download copyrighted content.

    Bittorrent? Ok..if you don't mind waiting days for it to dribble down to your PC. And that's if the file is actually what the title says it is. Not that anyone would offer a file for torrent with one name and have it be something completely different.

    Usenet news suffers from the same problem. Trying to decipher some of the file names people use can take longer than the actual download.

    Hulu? Nice start. But so much is missing and content is getting rotated off pretty quickly lately.

  • Re:Sub $500? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:03AM (#26812553) Homepage

    In this case, the OTA's often about as good as basic cable these days, with the TV stations providing multiple feeds in addition to the network one. I'm only missing a few things like Discovery at this point- not sure if it's worth the $30-50/mo for Dish to get it.

  • by Riddles ( 2787 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:06AM (#26812597) Homepage

    And this basically sums up my experience with these devices over the past couple of years. Getting any pc to do decent tv-out is a nightmare (Modeline Hell as he calls it). Getting sound on both regular outputs and digital outputs with Alsa is "challenging" to say the least. And then I just want the box to suspend and wake-up using a remote. Again, that's possible in theory, but somehow I've never found a board that will reliably go into S3 and wakeup from S3 over and over again. If you finally get it to work once, it suddenly doesn't work the second time.

    Finally, I've just switched to a UPNP frontend for my Mythtv backend. It turns on and off in 5-10 secs, does both analog and digital audio outputs and I've never had issues with its tv outputs. I've lost some functionality, but at least it's reliable and "just works".

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @12:09PM (#26813651) Homepage Journal

    Buy a used xbox from someplace that lets your look at it first.

    Who has tried this at a local GameStop or somewhere? Or where else would you recommend that would be available to people in most parts of the United States?

    Short version: if it was made before 2004, it's pre-1.6

    The Version 1.6 Warning page states that Xbox consoles can be updated to 1.6 through the Internet. By "look at it" do you mean "turn it on before paying for it"?

    You can still use a hardware mod chip on a 1.6 box.

    For many users, it takes less time==money to buy a Popcorn Hour box than to learn to solder.

  • Re:Sub $500? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @01:43PM (#26815373)

    Because we operate under the premise that things like movies wouldn't be made in any meaningful quantity if people weren't going to pay. True some people do create low budget films for free, but the number is pretty small and the production quality isn't usually as good. Plus some types of movies are just too expensive to do right, even if you're being budget consious.

    The only reason we had protections for Copyright, Trademark and Patent in the legal code originally was to ensure that there was an incentive to produce. Even if you're wanting to give away your code, photos, books, what have you, the protection does ensure that you have legal redress should somebody use it for purposes you don't approve of.

    Were we to have that level of deregulation in the IP market, you'd have only the choice of produce or not produce, with no option to control it at all.

  • An easier solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stickyc ( 38756 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @02:23PM (#26816053) Homepage
    For those who don't wish to spend as much time assembling and tweaking, but still want to enjoy Boxee goodness; You can buy a refurbished Mac Mini, DVIHDMI dongle, and 1tb external disk for roughly the same price as the author spent on his Ubuntu rig. Boxee is available (and started) as a native OS-X application. Plus, with OS-X, you can get streaming HD Netflix.
  • Re:Sub $500? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dalhamir ( 1423303 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @03:35PM (#26817317)

    Why isn't the free distribution of cultural content considered part of a countries diplomatic budget? It should be...

    oh yeah, I'd love for congress to decide what sitcoms get made, that would be wonderful. And you do realize that even if a government pays for it, it still actually costs you money right? Someone has to actually pay for the content to get made, and the way to actually get what you want in the long run is to pay for it yourself. That said, the cable model of payment is certainly idiotic in the age of the internet, and boxee's integration of Hulu and netflix make it both practical and responsible way to get your media more efficiently.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser