Boxee Box hardware announced for open source Media Center

On the official Boxee blog, founder and CEO Avner Ronen has announced that the company has reached its first official partnership with a consumer electronics manufacturer. Though he refers to it as a "Boxee Box" in the subject of the post, Ronen declined to release details or specifications, which he said will be available at an official event to be held on December 7th.

Based on open-source technology first designed to bring media center capabilities to the original Xbox, Boxee is currently available as an open alpha for machines running Windows, Linux, and OSX. From the beginning, Boxee differentiated itself from other forks of the XBMC project by focusing on freely available streaming web content and a centralized app-based model for extending functionality. With the ability to access Hulu and streaming Netflix titles, Boxee generated significant buzz during an invite-only round of initial builds.

Boxee also markets itself as a social media application because it allows users to share their viewing habits and recommendations with online friends. Because of this focus, last year the project won $50,000 in the iStage technology contest at CES. Though the program has yet to officially reach beta, it has over 27,000 registered users.

The software faced some controversy earlier this year, when Hulu developers removed Boxee's open access to their videos at the request of "content partners." Though Hulu content is again available on Boxee through a different implementation, the move illustrated the discomfort of traditional media brokers with having their web content easily accessible on viewers televisions.

Perhaps the most significant aspect inherited from its open-source roots is Boxee tendency against proprietary limitations. In addition to supporting playback of numerous multimedia formats, from .flac and .ogg to .mkv and .iso, the project aims to place itself on as many devices as possible, the announced "Boxee Box" being just the beginning. According to CEO Ronen, it "will be the first connected device running Boxee, but the idea is to provide consumers with a way to get Boxee in their living rooms, no matter whether it's on a Connected TV, game console, set-top box, BluRay player, computer, etc."

"Our goal is to be on every Connected device in the living room," he said on the blog.

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