back to article D-Link Boxee Box DSM-380 media streamer

D-Link’s Boxee box, also known by the catchy moniker of DSM-380, is aimed at a sector of the market that’s quite important in the US – streaming online media – but somewhat less so in the UK right now. D-Link Boxee Box DSM-380 Media container? D-Link's Boxee box It’s essentially a small form factor PC running the Boxee …

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Silver badge
FAIL

D-Link DSM-3x0 = a very bad taste left in mouth

<- Utter.

I've got a D-Link DSM-320 and the best way to describe my ownership impressions is to consult a thesaurus under the word "horrible". It's all of that.

It offers just a few Media Indexing services, and then because I don't live in the US of A, it disables most of those. Essentially all that remains is Live 365; and they spend every working hour of their lives trying to insert their perplexing financial model in-between what should be free Internet media sources and the end-user. Yeah right, subscription per month for what amounts to a link to a UDP stream - dream on Sunshine.

The DSM-320 is one of the worst appliances I've ever had the misfortune to purchase.

This relates to the DSM-380 because it's the same company, the same model range.

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But what about the privvies?

Your comment relates solely to Media Indexing, but what about media that you already have?

Some of us care not a toss for accessing any media other than that which they already have stored on external hard-discs. If It can play those back fine, it might still be worth a look-see (if any of our local retailers ever decide to carry one, that is).

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Stop

Your point is ??

We know the 380 is not that great cos we just read the review. Maybe u should have read a couple of reviews before buying the 320...

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Hardly

Different OS, different internals, and the 320 was discontinued in the US in Jan 2009. That's sort of like saying the New Ford Focus is crap because Pinto's used to blow up in the 70's.

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Silver badge

What's the alternative?

I'm looking for a small device to attach to my bedroom TV that will stream from a uPNP server in the loft. Currently use the PS3 for the main TV, but looking for a discrete box for the bedroom. Suggestions? I was hoping this would be it...

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If this is it

Boxee could still be the one for you, if the relatively hefty price tag isn't an issue.

I've got one and it works a treat.

The playback of local media works very well, and the picture quality on my plasma TV looks great.

Flash-based streaming from the Danish version of your Auntie Beeb works without a hitch.

Yes, it has some issues, but the only important one that's left for me personally has been marked as resolved in their bug-tracker, so it shouldn't be a long wait.

Read up on forums.boxee.tv and on www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1286552 for the pros and cons.

For my needs there is only one major worry: If Boxee the company goes mammaries vertically ascending, will Boxee the box turn into a useless brick (it logs onto Boxee's servers on start-up), or will they open up the platform?

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Pint

A better option

A better option would be an Apple TV2 (hold on, there's more to it) for around £90, then install XBMC on top of it. This now installs and runs in parallel with the Apple software, so you can boot to either.

Boxee was forked from XBMC, the tech playing back upnp streams and local content is the same. Boxee worked on plugins to stream from websites, and the user interface. You can also download both boxee and XBMC (since they're both open source) and try them on an old pc, or vmware, if you want to check out whether it works before shelling out for some hardware.

Currently i've got XBMC running on an old mac mini under the TV, and it's great for what you're describing. Only limitation is the graphics card in the older mac mini won't playback HD content smoothly, but I can live with that for the moment till I get other hardware.

XBMC is still a vibrant developing project, so well worth a look.

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A Sony BluRay will cost under £100 and do more than this lemon

Buy the cheapest Sony BluRay player. You get DLNA, iPlayer, Channel5, LoveFilms, and a bunch of other video sources. And a decent DVD player (a bit fiddly to make region free, but possible). Why anyone would buy this lemon is beyond me., maybe they are hoping the "cute" name will distract you from looking at the alternatives.

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Happy

The Alternative is:

Try the latest Sony Blu-Ray players, BDP-S370 is a pretty good choice, has a DLNA client (wired ethernet only, but you need it for high def anyway) , plays quite a number of file types, especially if you customize your media-server to rename MIMEs, has an iPlayer and LoveFilm clients built in, can be had for around £90, bargain.

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Happy

Well

People asking why you would buy this rather than a Blu-Ray player have clearly not seen the media indexing features of Boxee/XBMC. Point it towards your films it will scrape imdb and various other sites for film synopsis, graphics, details of cast members etc etc. The interface is completely customisable, with some very pretty skins available. Various other plugins are available, including things like launching mythtv, console emulators (SNES etc), it will index your music collection in a similar way, giving band histories from lastfm, etc etc

The review does not do this justice, it focuses on streaming internet content, which is not what i generally use XBMC for. Except iPlayer, which i do use. We use it for a collection of disney films for the kids, and other films for ourselves, and to stream tvcatchup on occasion, controlled by a remote control from the couch.

Try XBMC or boxee in vmware, you'll get the point.

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but

aside from invalidating your warranty by jailbreaking your Apple TV2, doesn't it still require a tethered reboot every time? I personally love XBMC but this seems a bit clunky atm.

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Anonymous Coward

Well ...

You can ssh to the box and kill the appletv process as an alternative to tethering it on reboot. But yes, that's not exactly ideal. You could presumably cron a job to kill the AppleTV process if you've no interest in the appletv software itself (disclaimer, i've not tried that, i assume cron is present, it may not be)

It doesn't seem that clunky to me, but your mileage may differ. The benefits vs drawbacks work for me compared to the alternatives. I personally couldn't care less about the warranty, don't think i've ever replaced an electronic device under warranty. Maybe i've just been lucky.

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Asus O!Play

The O!Play has been on the market for a while now. I got the basic ethernet wired box from Amazon for £80 a couple of years ago (ish) but the wireless 'Live' version is now available for £76!

Nice cheap reliable media player that's played everything I've slung at it (divx, xvid, wmv, srt, sub, etc), works perfectly with TVersity too, I've even managed to get SopCast streaming to it through VLC. Interface and remote are a bit clunky but it's such good value it makes up in other ways. The built-in media services are useless but you can use a media server to serve content over UPnP.

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Silver badge
Linux

AppleTV an anemic offering...

In it's current form, the AppleTV is an anemic and rather closed off offering. Unless you want to spend all of your time converting your content (and figuring out where to store it afterwards) then you have the prospect of altering a non-user-serviceable appliance.

Even then, AppleTV + XBMC might not have the moxi for what you want to do.

Perhaps buy a Boxee Box from a local retailer that has a civilized return policy and see how it does.

Or has returning defective product gone out of style in the 21st century?

Revo + XBMC is great for streaming local content. Can't handle the likes of Hulu though.

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Anonymous Coward

Have you missed the point?

No'one suggested AppleTV. I suggested running XBMC on the AppleTV hardware, because it costs £90 to get a usable XBMC on small silent hardware, so blokey can stream his films to the bedroom over uPnP.

Any reason why that "might not have the moxi" for what he wants to do? I can't think of one.

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I use XBMC

Sorry, but I use XBMC on the PC and I still bought two Sony BluRay players. I only have a few 100 (DVD rips) videos on DLNA servers, organised into folders by genre. If I can't find one to watch by genre, or can't remember who is in a film, then Google is my friend. Same goes for music. The indexing may be great but largely unnecessary when it actually comes down to use. And if I decide I want to see the bonus features on the DVD I can always go find the DVD I ripped and stick it into the player.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: alternative

I've got myself a little Acer Revo net top which sits behind the TV. £200 from eBuyer.

You have yourself a fully fledged, quiet, power friendly desktop. I've got mine dual booting Windows 7 and Ubuntu but there's no reason you can't just go with Ubuntu (or any other Linux distro of your choice). On top of this I've got the Boxee software running. Why have a box limited to just Boxee when you can have one that does so much more for the same price?

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Silver badge
Linux

Revenge of the 90s.

> Any reason why that "might not have the moxi" for what he wants to do? I can't think of one.

How about: it's not really designed or intended to.

That's the key point with the boxee box. It is specifically intended to handle whatever you may have. The AppleTV and related products are designed with a very narrow set of functionality in mind. That means limited format support, limited codec support, a weak CPU and a weak GPU.

Trying to "brute force" anything not explicitly accelerated by the GPU hardware will likely be a losing proposition.

You're trying to turn some throwback from the 90s into something it's probably not.

It's really quite similar to the situation you would have doing the same thing with an ION nettop.

Except the ION box has a better CPU and GPU.

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Missed some features.

The reviewer has missed some key features, not least the media indexing feature which makes this such a good media device for people that keep all of their media in a digital format. I can't be bothered writing descriptions for every film I've stored and making sure there is an image associated so my wife can easily pick a film, and with this I don't have to. It scrapes IMDb and displays posters and descriptions for her. I don't know of any other media player that does this at all, never mind does it well.

I agree it has a way to go on the online media front, particularly in the UK, however for allowing easy navigation and playback of stored media my wife hasn't used better, and she's a normal consumer rather than a geek.

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Silver badge
Linux

Yeah. Missed some features...

Yes. I think the 55% is a bit low. It sounds like the reviewer was a total Apple fanboy and knocked 20% off the score just because there isn't an Apple logo on this thing.

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Bronze badge

Apple Fanboi?

You know, it really is possible to see product reviews in terms other than "Does the reviewer like Apple or not".

Personally, I find the iPhone interface incredibly annoying, and while I have reservations about the lock-in with AppleTV, at least it's half the price of this, and if you don't mind tinkering, will do pretty well on the media playback front.

Given that the user experience for UK-based online media is so poor, and that that's one of the main reasons you might consider spending £200 on this instead of less than £100 on something that will play most of the media you have on your network, no I don't think 55% is terribly unfair.

If you want iPlayer, for example, you'll get a far better experience from any number of Freesat receivers, some Freeview HD kit, and assorted other bits and bobs. For a large number of ordinary punters, that side of this product is really not ready for prime time, and that affected the score dramatically.

Where this excels is as a media player for content on your own network. But really, is it worth paying £200 just to get some fancy indexing options? I don't think so.

Ask yourself, if this didn't have the online media support, would you pay that price, when there are media players available for under £100 that can do as well? Would you be happy if we gave it a high rating when there's equivalent kit (and we do consider value in assigning scores) for far less?

In my opinion, the Boxee Box fails on the value for money front. And it certainly fails on the UX front as far as online content is concerned, for users in the UK.

That's why it got 55%. Not any other reason. And certainly nothing to do with speculation about whether or not I like Apple.

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Linux

For UK users, there's really only one option...

... DIY.

You can build a bloody good MythTV box for about £350 - and if you've got the time and technical skills, launch Boxee & XBMC from MythTV.

It's taken me a while to get my box perfected, but now, it just kicks spots of everything else I've read about or seen - and it's completely open.

Record TV, stream TV, heck - play any damn thing you want on it, surf the net, play games - all on the TV, from the comfort of your sofa.

Being able to remotely schedule recordings from my phone is another awesome DIY feature.

Why nobody is building and selling boxes like this is anyones guess - possibly because they are complicated to set up even if all the hardware and OS is installed for you?

I will admit, it was *not* an easy task to get my rig running sweet - and I've been building PC's and dabbling with Linux for two decades.

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Happy

I love it

I have been using xbmc for years but the boxee box is a breath of fresh air, you do need some tech savvy tho' to get the best from it and you can use us based VPN's to access us content plus the navi-x app opens up all kinds of content. I mostly use it for my local media and it plays all files perfectly, and contrary to this review it runs silently

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Coat

Call me old fashioned if you will

But what's wrong with hooking up a laptop to your TV, using a wireless keyboard?

/Coat for "Where the hell did I put that spare DVI cable?"

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Silver badge
Flame

Andother D-Link Rip-off

Price in the USA: $199.00

Price in the UK: £179.98

(Both Amazon)

What should the price in the UK be? Given current exchange rates, around £125. So why does D-Link think it can charge a 44% premium in the UK when a lot of the features won't even work over here?

I would try to suggest an alternative, say the Roku XDS 2100X, but there the rip-off is even more disgusting. US$99.99 vs UK$149.99 (equivalent would be UK£62). A 200% mark-up for no reason whatsoever!

Can El Reg do an article on why companies think it is OK to try and gouge the pockets of the UK consumer? At these prices it would be cheaper for me to personally import the items from the USA. Which is just bloody stupid.

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Err, what?

$199 comes to £124.25 at a rate of 1.60160. Add another 20% for VAT, and it's £149.10

A 20% premium.

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Silver badge
Boffin

@The BigYin

Not only are you missing local sales tax from the US prices, you're also missing import duty, warranty costs, built-in restocking fees (US charges to return products, UK doesn't - but guaranteed you're paying it somewhere), not to mention shipping and distributing it into the UK and the general higher cost of doing business here. It's unfortunately not as easy as you make out to compare US/UK prices. You also need to consider what the spending power of the $ is compared to the £.

Import if you like, nothing is stopping you. You may save some money, but you forfeit your warranty and statutory rights, so are effectively getting less for your money. It sucks, but "rip-off Britain" is less tangible than you might think.

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Pint

Well

Assuming $50 shipping from the US to the UK, with no insurance, you would end up paying £194.06 shipping it to yourself. See below;

http://www.dutycalculator.com/new-import-duty-and-tax-calculation/saved_calculations/view_details/216112/

So perhaps it's not quite as inflated as you think?

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Silver badge

To all

The kit is imported to the USA, having been assembled in China. So import tariffs etc exist in the USA. Also, they don't have to just import to the UK, they have the whole EU to choose from so any extra costs in getting the devices here (which would be marginal coming from China) are spread out over the whole EU.

Fair point about the sales tax - I had forgotten about that.

Whilst 100% parity is never going to happen (due to currency fluctuations etc) and I accept that, this disrepancy is way beyond the pale (especially considering that many of the services are blocked outside the USA).

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Happy

Um

You believe there's no additional costs involved in importing a device to multiple EU countries compared to importing to one single country (the US)? You don't think just handling the paperwork to meet all the import regulations/taxes for the different territories might bump the cost up just a leetle teensy bit?

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Silver badge

@AC 15:38

Within the EU? No. Remember, the Euro zone is a free-trade market (or it should be). Once it is imported into one EU state, it can be sold all over the EU. The only real issues exist over "grey imports", and that is mostly caused by companies over-charging in the EU simply because they can (helped by the EU blocking said grey imports).

And what costs do exist should not be any more than having to import into the USA and deal with the vagaries of the laws/taxes in the different states.

If there are significant costs to trading in the EU, then that just shows what a sham the EU is and the fact it is not working in the interest of the people. There should not be such vast differences in prices for products like this that are mass-manufactured to a standard design.

If the device was made in the USA, I could understand the price disparity. As it is coming from China, the disparity does not make any sense.

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VPN

UK and European users can use a VPN to access US content (and Europeans to access UK content). It costs money, but not much ($5/month).

For the record, the box can play anything you throw at it. Which is more than can be said of the other options (notably the Xbox/PS3). It also handles subs properly, which is an issue with cheaper devices.

For the price, it should really include either significant flash storage (16-32gb) or a small hard drive (500gb-1tb).

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Boxxy!

Seems like a lot of fuss, noise and money to break your ISP cap.

TV & DVD-R works. DVDs are fine for TV or the PC. YouTube on the PC.

There is nothing audio visual out there that merits further exertion or expense.

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Silver badge

DVDs are fine for TV

So says somebody who I'm willing to bet does not have kids.

I use Boxee on a PC and it has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, since they started working on the boxee box updates for the download version are virtually non existent,

I agree with the comment regarding scraping IMDB for the cover art and other details. It works pretty damn well. All that is needed is the facility to override the automatically scraped details when required. Sometimes the cover art on IMDB is non-existent, extremely low res or just plain wrong and it would be nice to be able to upload the correct artwork when necessary.

I don't even bother with all the online streaming malarkey because I am in Australia and despite it constantly trying to entice me into watching "How I Met Your Mother" you find that any attempt to do so is met with "Sorry this content is not available in your area"

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plenty of alternatives but...

AC Ryan have just released their PlayOn!2 hardware, Asus Oplay! is pretty good at decoding and then there's obviously the WDLive box. The thing Boxee has over all of these is its frontend. It actually has a UI that a non techie can use, which is pretty much its USP.

Check out reviews for other media streamers and most of them are criticised (on here or on Trusted Reviews) for the UI.

I think the boxee meets a need personally (or otherwise I wouldn't have bought one). I came to it from XBMC on a soft modded Xbox. Unlike all the other streamers out there, you can more or less try before you buy by installing it on a home computer first. I also like the way I can have a separate profile for the kids, which doesn't show any of the inappropriate content to them.

It is probably a bit pricey for what it does atm, but the hardware looks fairly future proof IMHO.

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Sod the crappy boxee box...

... I want that wonderful dual purpose remote control to use with my Mac mini media centre! Where can I get one???

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Anonymous Coward

Remote

The remote uses proprietary 2.4GHz technology, not Bluetooth or anything else remotely standard, and hence it may be hard to get it working with a Mac Mini. A shame really, because I would use it as well. We'll have to wait until Bluetooth Low Energy keyboards and remote controls start to ship to get something comparable and using standard protocols.

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I like my Boxee

I've used one of these for a couple of months now and have no complaints other than the lack of a back-lit remote. Runs silently and picks up all my videos from my Synology NAS without issue.

I rarely use if for online content to be honest but the times I have wanted to use iPlayer on it it's performed superbly.

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Acer Aspire Revo?

I have been using various solutions for streaming my content for a long while now, I have tried a lot of clients and they have all be found wanting.

I was going to give the Boxee box a go but then it just never materialised.

So I bought a Acer Aspire Revo from ebuyer for a little over £200 and now I can run whatever I want. Plug in what ever I want and access my server how I want. No restrictions (other than the power of the Atom processor). It lives in a cupboard and is nearly slient. I can run the Boxee client, go to 4od, iplayer, youtube, divx mkv etc. Plug in a twin tuner usb freeview stick or two and hey presto, with Media centre you have a 2 or 4 tuner PVR as well, plus it will let you record to remote storage! All I need now is an external slimline USB Bluray drive.

I have now given up on these one trick ponies. The mini pc is the way to go...

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FAIL

The remote control ...

... is absolutely gorgeous but £200 for a streaming device? That's damn criminal! Our collonial cousins pay virtually half what we do for the same device. Rip off Britain is alive and well.

I'd been following this device for a long time and I'd love the remote but there was no way I was going to spend £200. I bought a Acer Revo dual core net-top with 2GB RAM and 250gb HDD for less than the cost of the Boxee Box. With Windows 7 and an installation of XBMC I get the best of both streaming and full PC capability on my TV. I would still love to be able to use the Boxee remote control though, that's a sexy piece of kit.

If any execs from D-Link are reading this I hope they take away the feeling that maybe their pricing was / is way too high.

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Go

Damn am I glad ...

... I bought a Roku at $49.95. Great little box.

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Cashing in on open source

What a shame practically none of Boxees profits make their way back to the XBMC project which they owe most if not all of their features to.

The XBMC live distro is so easy to set up and will run straight off'f an Acer Aspire or other ION equipped device.

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Anonymous Coward

Really?

Boxee do donate to and sponsor XBMC - http://xbmc.org/about/friends-and-sponsors/

Are you saying you know how much they give back to XBMC?

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