07/13/2011, 11:58 AM
I run a ton of different tech at my house - MythTV DVR, Boxee Box in the bedroom, Plex Media Server in the basement. I have a ton of my media stored locally and I access it on my Android phone, iPod Touch, desktops, laptops, etc.
I bought a launch-day TouchPad. If you look at some of my posts you'll see that I'm less than thrilled with the device so far. But I've been a Palm ****** <<mod delete>> since the Treo 600 and have owned a ton of Palm phones since, running PalmOS, Windows Mobile and WebOS. Palm, and now HP, is like that girlfriend you keep going back to because she promises things will be different this time (And for the record, I've been in IT since 1997 and the only other HP product I've ever bought was a Compaq iPaq ten years ago). Every time i pick up my TouchPad I think to myself, "What besides the core of WebOS would make this more desirable and useful than an iPad or Honeycomb tablet?"
My TouchPad is precariously mounted to my refrigerator using about six dollars worth of plastic brackets, and it's from there that the tablet streams music (via built-in apps or Google Music and Amazon MP3) and TV shows via their Flash-based full episodes. And while launching NBC Nightly News and asking myself yet again the what-does-HP-need question, it hit me. Boxee. It needs Boxee.
For those that don't know, Boxee is a branch of the XBMC Media Center, a project that has been near and dear to my heart. Back before the days of HD content, I soft-modded original Xboxes for all my friends and loaded them with music, movies and game emulators. I have built at least 20 to 25 XBMC-based Xboxes over the years.
XBMC and now Boxee are, at their core, content aggregators. They take content from all over the web and wrap it in their own tv-friendly shell to be consumed by Joe Sixpack using nothing more than a remote control (albeit one with a QWERTY keyboard). Boxee lets users install apps without leaving the core application, and even allows grey-area apps like Navi-X and FuzzTheD's GameLauncher by 'side-loading' those app repositories. This allows me to have everything from Netflix to Family Guy streams to MythTv recordings to my DVD rips right on the big screen in one interface. One big interface of remote-control-friendly icons. Icons and layouts that worked so well on a touchscreen that I built a touchscreen HTPC on a Dell One desktop for the kitchen, and it works great (pic here).
How great? So great that there's an iOS port in the works. Check out a demo at
So you have Boxee with unlimited content. You have a thriving group of apps and developers who keep churning out new content for the platform. Unlike XBMC which is a purely open-source autonomous project, Boxee is a real company, with a real corporate business model, and one who has already expressed interest in licensing the OS to other devices and platforms.
Take that video I linked to, and imagine having that app exclusive to the TouchPad. Imagine showing it off to your friends and colleagues when they ask what makes the TouchPad better than the iPad. This app would be enough to get the TouchPad over its "hump" of having almost no apps compared to the big boys, and would enable it to do so many things that, while possible on the iPad, aren't grouped together so nicely in such a wonderfully polished interface. The possibilities really are awesome - If HP realizes its dream of WebOS on desktops and laptops, Boxee could be included as a core app. HP's line of touchsmart PCs running WebOS and Boxee? I can't think of a better entertainment PC for the house!
I'm going to forward this to everybody I can think of at HP and Boxee, and if you guys agree I think you should do the same. If Boxee releases its app for iOS it will be too late, and I will probably sell my TouchPad at that point and get an iPad 2. But if HP can swoop in now and get a lock on the technology, they'll have a fighting chance in the tablet battle.