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Review: Boxee for iPad arrives

12 August 2011 2,925 views One Comment

More content arriving on the iPad is always welcome. However, another way to move the stuff I’ve already got from here to there, while worth a look, isn’t a cause for excitement. So, is it a better way get video onto an iPad? Step inside.

Boxee has fallen off the radar a bit since its Boxee Box shipped earlier this year to less than stellar reviews. Nevertheless, it’s still one of the go to free TV apps on the desktop and folks have been wondering when they’d make a mobile play.

The wondering is over, though Boxee for iPad (iTunes, free) isn’t a replay of their desktop app — there’s currently limited access (14 clips) to Boxee’s licensed content and, if you have a Boxee Box (I don’t), streaming from an iPad to that device could be interesting.

That out of the way, Boxee for iPad does two things of note.

My media

To view movies — iPad compatible content only — from your Mac, you’ll first need to download the Boxee Media Manager (Mac OSX 10.5+ Intel 64-bit) and set it up, which involves telling this server app where video is located on your machine. I selected Movies, TV Shows and Podcasts from the iTunes folder.

The good thing here, at least on my 2007 iMac with 4GB RAM running Lion, is that Boxee Media Manager + Boxee for iPad is much more responsive than using iTunes’ native Shared Library function.

Shortcomings include no thumbnails, the inability to resume where you left off, no music playback and no search function, which means a lot of swiping if you’ve got big movie library.

Also, to listen to music, you’ll need an AirPlay capable (i.e. newer) Mac.

Watch Later

The idea here is very simple. Just install the Watch Later bookmarklet in Safari’s Bookmarks Bar and, when you come across a video on YouTube et al you’d like to watch later, click the +Boxee link — a link and thumbnail will be synced to your iPad.

For example, I +Boxee’d about a dozen segments of the World War II In HD documentary. It’s the real deal in 9 minute chunks and as HD as the YouTube users who uploaded it could manage.

The downside is that content isn’t stored on your iPad for off grid viewing. Also, YouTube clips, for example, don’t display related clips when the one you’re watching finishes, so you have to bookmark everyone you want to watch.

Think of it as (sort of) Instapaper for video.

It’s a wrap

There are also the inevitable social tie ins — Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr — and how valuable that is depends on how shareful your friends are. Apparently, mine aren’t (yawn).

Additional social support, such as YouTube channels, would be a nice touch. In fact, it would be nice if Boxee for iPad would at least play contiguous clips in order without assistance.

Whereas I rather like Boxee Media Manager, it’s fast. However, as noted above, it lacks basic functionality like search and thumbnails. I haven’t tried video conversion on the fly, though other reviewers say it works fine.

What’s the verdict on Boxee for iPad. Mixed, very mixed…

What’s your take?

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