Boxee Beta and Bookmarklet

Our portfolio company Boxee has been having a great CES. First they generated a ton of buzz with this cool TV remote with a full QWERTY keyboard.


But that was just the warmup to the big announcement yesterday in which they released the beta version of Boxee to everyone. The beta version of Boxee is available on Mac, Windows, and Ubuntu Linux (including 64 bit). It will be available for Apple TV shortly. The beta includes a ton of new content, a more stable code base, and an entirely new UI. Here's a screen shot of the main screen which showcases the new UI.


You can download the beta version of Boxee here.

And Boxee announced that the "Boxee Box" that is built by D-Link is powered by the Nvidia Tegra 2 (T20) processor, the first of its kind to run flash. They also announced a few more details of what is inside the Boxee Box. If you are a hardware geek, click here and see what's inside.

But as exciting as all of that is, I am most excited about a smallish announcement they made yesterday that might get lost in all of this other stuff. Boxee has a bookmarklet that you can put in any browser toolbar. Drag this link (add to boxee) to your browswer toolbar and you'll be adding videos you find around the internet to your Boxee. Right now the bookmarklet supports thirteen different video sites but Boxee will be adding more soon.

Last June, on this blog, I promoted the concept of a "watch later" service and a number of developers responded to the call with various services. Many of them included Boxee apps. But now with the Boxee bookmarklet and queue, this concept of "watch later" will be native in the Boxee service. I'm really quite excited by this.

If you are like me, you are seeing links to videos in email, twitter, facebook, blogs, etc all day long. It's time consuming to stop what you are doing to watch them. Now you can simply click on the boxee bookmarklet and watch them at home on your TV set after dinner while you are winding down from the day. It's a killer concept. Thanks Boxee.

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#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. rafisyed

    Very excited to download the beta for my Mac Mini. The remote also seems attractive. I have been using the Mac Mini with a wireless keyboard and hacked wii remote to do my boxee alpha-ing…

    1. fredwilson

      i asked the boxee team if the boxee remote could replace the wirelesskeyboard and wireless mouse i currently use for my mac mini. they said yeson the keyboard but no on the mouse. they hope to have a more expensiveversion of the boxee remote out sometime this year that would replace both.

      1. Mike Altschul

        Lenovo recently released a mini remote with keyboard and trackball: It was on sale for $30 a couple weeks ago and I jumped at the opportunity to add this to my living room computer and I’m quite pleased. While I wouldn’t want to write an email using it, the ability to manually enter a search into Google or submit a password to a site via a small gizmo that sits alongside my remote is invaluable. Oh, and it’s fully functional with my Mac as both keyboard and mouse (even the multimedia keys work with iTunes).It won’t replace a keyboard and mouse entirely, but it will replace them sufficiently to be the only thing you need within arm’s reach of the couch.

  2. reece

    Psyched for the Boxee bookmarklet. It is exactly how I consume most content, be it blogs or video.The most used link in my browser is Instapaper’s ‘Read later’ bookmarklet (excellent app). [FWIW the other two are Tumblr’s ‘Sharing’ link and the “Add” Zemanta link].This will also give me more drive to check in to Boxee – knowing there is content I want to see vs. showing up and looking around.Congrats to Avner and the entire Boxee team.

    1. gardnersmitha

      Totally agree with Reece. The bookmarklet may seem like a small thing but it’s a HUGE user experience boost.I’ve been playing with the Beta for a couple weeks and the new dashboard-style interface gives the product much more latency for me – I’m watching content within seconds whereas I used to spend lots of time navigating and trying to figure out what to watch.A big thanks to the Boxee team for listening to users and standing up for the democratization of video content. Now if we could only get ESPN to stop the Apple-esque shenanigans and make a 360 app….

      1. reece

        You nailed it Austin.When the time is right, we ( want to build an app for Boxee so fans can access their HomeField game film through their TV. Tons of potential…ESPN is hanging onto their dying model. They’ll have to innovate soon.Though I am excited for their announcement regarding broadcast in 3D.

        1. fredwilson

          what a great idea reece. home field is a perfect example of highly valuable niche media. not everyone wants to see every brown lacrosse game. but if your child is on the team, then its more important than the super bowl

          1. reece

            Exactly…and we want to provide the best user experience possible around that video. Boxee can be a big part of that.

          2. Tereza

            really useful for the athletic programs too, as glue with their alumni for donations (though reece as you know i’m partial to Penn Women’s Volleyball). the point is these smaller sports are underfunded and they are hungry to fortify their relationships with their fans.

          3. reece

            It’s definitely a point we are trying to solve as we build out HomeField.We are already helping some teams raise money for their program and just need to make it work at scale.

          4. Tereza

            Speaking of your kids games…and sorry this isn’t about Boxee….I’d love to see Foursquare for suburban moms where we check into parking lots of schools, games, rehearsals, etc. know who’s coming from where and going where, so we can CARPOOL! ….and coordinate nannies, au pairs, kids going different places at the same time.This is a big pain point for the iPhone mommy set (I once saw a t-shirt that said ‘If a woman’s place is in the home, then why am I always in the car?’).The big hurdle will be the crappy ATT signal.

          5. fredwilson

            why couldn’t you use foursquare for that?

          6. Tereza

            1. right now bc it’s a conversation with myself2. it’s an esoteric topic to train the nanny in and she’s our 3rd co-parent2. 50% of the time i have no signal (obviously not Foursquare’s fault)I feel some packaging/understanding relevant to that environment would make a difference. but the pain point is real.

          7. Tereza

            I’m exploring my resistance here. Vis-a-vis the kids, nanny etc and pickups, there’s a zero tolerance acceptance for error, can’t leave a 6-yr old waiting in the cold if lines get crossed — need total confidence in the tool if used in that capacity.maybe the starting point is playdates in the park among the toddler set, via urbanbaby-type users and expand from there.

          8. Greg Cohn

            Great reminder that we have a long way to go to achieve social/mobile/interop nirvana!

        2. avneron

          perfect! lets do me to discuss avner [at] boxee d0t TV

          1. reece

            Hey Avner, glad you’re interested.I’ll be in touch soon…

        3. Mark Essel

          A match made on AVC. I can see the value, go Reece and Avner!

  3. Sebastian Wain

    Thanks.Waiting for the D-Link appliance. I was re-re-researching for this kind of appliances for long time (mainly USB ports + HDMI + 1080p). I am sure it will be a hit because other companies were sleeping…. even Apple TV without DivX/Xvid (natively) doesn’t fit as a “complete” product.

  4. ErikSchwartz

    Bookmarklet is terrific.Remotes are hard. Back in the day at ICTV we did a ton of human factors research on qwerty in the living room, especially in a situation where you have to hold the remote in one hand and type with the other. It’s hard to tell from the renderings how big the remote is. Is it small enough to be used as a bby style thumb keyboard? If it’s too big to use as a thumb keyboard and too small to put in your lap and type you’re in an awkward place.

    1. fredwilson

      here’s a hands on review of the remote…

  5. Harry DeMott

    So are we going to get a official version for Apple TV – or do we have to jailbreak that device to put it on?

    1. fredwilson

      there’s going to be a USB flash drive that will install it

  6. andyswan

    Question for the AVC saloon:If you were to get one device to run on your bigscreen…..what would it be? Simple Mac Mini or Apple TV or is there some other superbox out there for this kind of thing that can run on all TVs in the house?This stupid little bookmarklet may in fact change the way I watch “TV”

    1. ErikSchwartz

      The Mini is way more versatile. But the ATV has native HDMI and is cheaper.I went with a mini.

      1. Mike Mitchell

        For the mac mini-boxee people out there, Bijan posted the Acer Aspire Revo AR1600 as good Boxee box.It is much cheaper and seems like it would do the job. thoughts?

        1. fredwilson

          if i wasn’t such a mac enthusiast, i’d go for that in a nanosecond

          1. Mike Mitchell

            haha yeah i am a mac enthusiast as well but at the same time am a poor recent college grad…

          2. NICCAI

            I’m thinking the long awaited tablet will be mac mini + iphone + atv, with the actual iphone as a remote (and probably 1/4 Kindle to boot). Just a guess, but portable media center has a nice drool to it.

        2. Chris Kurdziel

          The Aspire Revo AR1600 has some issues with HD content from what I’ve heard. I’d recommend the dual core 3600 series as an alternative to the Mac Mini. It’s a little more expensive, but worth the extra hundred bucks from what I hear. The only issue is actually finding one now as they appear to be sold out pretty much everywhere.

    2. fredwilson

      i like the mac mini. for a few hundred bucks more, you get a full blown computer. i use the mac mini’s browser on our 60″ flat panel all the time

    3. Mark Essel

      Good question Andy, I’d like to know what to snag. Unfortunately if I’m not reading it as fast as humanly possible, I’m streaming videos at night from Netflix, etc (on my pc monitor, got rid of my scary cables medusa’ing all over my living room).It’s hard to make time to watch youtube, bliptv, etc.

    4. Mike Altschul

      I love the idea of the Acer Aspire Revo AR1600. Lifehacker did a fabulous how-to build a media center using the Revo as hardware (with Boxee’s cousin XBMC as software) and the comments are insightful: In short, not powerful enough when *using Windows* because video rendering cannot be offloaded to the video card. Users report issues with HD playback (as @Chris Kurdziel pointed out), even DVD playback. A solution to get the Revo to play nice might be to install Boxee on Linux. I’d like to see the Boxee team develop a lightweight, Boxee-focused Linux distribution; heck, maybe it’s already been built for the Boxee Box and just needs a little tweaking.Other options for @andyswan:1. I researched a HTPC for months and ended up building my own for $500. If you don’t want to go that route (you don’t…unless you actually have free time), then my next choice is:2. Lenovo’s IdeaCentre Q700, which can be had for $350-400 when on sale.

  7. Dave Pinsen

    Has Boxee ever considered branching out into broadcasting? It seems that if it could aggregate its user data (while ensuring anonymity), it could package the most “bookmarkleted” videos from the net (perhaps with a little curation for quality) into a cable or satellite channel (or a few channels, categorized by subject matter, level of adult content, etc.).

    1. avneron

      actually we have not considered it as a cable channel, but have similar thoughts in terms of creating an online driven consumption experience

  8. kidmercury

    damn this is hot, def where it’s at

  9. Ajay Mehta

    The “watch later” concept is killer. But I don’t come across too many videos that I really want to watch but simply don’t have the time for – could be a result of me being a boarding school student with tons of time as opposed to many of you working people.I have a feeling that the bookmarklet would just make me go out and actively search for videos to watch so I have enough entertainment to make the TV interaction long and worthwhile.

    1. Casey Pugh

      You don’t necessarily have to use it as a “watch later” tool. You could also use it to just put those videos that you do enjoy onto your TV so you can easily pull it up for your friends and family at home.The functionality of the bookmarklet is still a very simple one-click experience. We plan on growing the functionality over time to allow sharing with friends and subscribing to video feeds.

  10. im2b_dl

    i agree whole heatedly

  11. JimLittlefield

    It is a smart feature and fits well with the zero-inbox method advocated by David Allen. I have a Read/Listen/View folder in gmail that tends to fill up with such information. Having them presumably pre-loaded would save time and make it more likely I would go back for them.If you’re not familiar with the zero-inbox method, I’ll write a post on my blog and get it posted shortly.

  12. Darren Herman

    Looks beautiful. Nicely done.

  13. charliepinto

    I love the toolbar! Negative comment- please don’t mull over a more expensive QWERTY keyboard. Honestly, same concept at MSN TV. My friends and I agree that keyboards are VERY annoying and cumbersome to use for TV…This might be a little out there, but how about a cheap touchscreen tablet-like controller (with virtual keyboard)? Like mobile phone browsers are to the standard browsers, the tablet-like remote would essentially be a lean replication of what is on the TV. I could go into more detail of my perceived benefits (interactive TV, impulse purchases, “new-age” advertisements, networking, surfing, etc.), but I digress.What does the community think? How do you feel about TV keyboards… and not just on the Boxee Box.

    1. fredwilson

      they aren’t thinking of a full blown QWERTY keyboard. just a version of the remote with additional hardware in it that makes it work as a full blown remote mouse.

      1. Chris Pollara

        I would think your smartphone would end up being the remote once all your devices are wirelessly synced together

        1. reece

          I’m hesitant around my phone as the remote for all of my devices:What happens when there are 5 people watching TV? Who has the remote? What happens when you get a phone call if your phone is already operating your entertainment system and your air conditioning etc?Don’t get me wrong – I like that I CAN do control Boxee from my phone, I just don’t necessarily want it that way as the standard.

          1. Chris Pollara

            If multiple folks are watching TV it would be the same as now, one person can drive. I’m thinking you would just have an infrared hardware attachment to plug into the bottom of your smartphone so anyone could actually use the remote. If you get a call then the smartphone should be able to run multiple apps (flaw of the iphone, plus on droid and pre) – take the call on your bluetooth and keep controlling boxee from your phone. I hear you about the standard and making sure it comes with a stock remote. With so many software apps and hardware component’s for me the more you can collapse into one device the better.

          2. reece

            Pretty cool tech, but I’d still rather have a dedicated TV remote.Plus, what happens if there’s another ‘helmet-catch’ against my team and Iwant to throw the remote at the TV again?Then I’m out a remote, a TV AND a phone. 😉

        2. fredwilson

          boxee has an remote app for the iphone already…<http:”” 2009=”” 03=”” 15=”” boxee-iphone-remote-app-available-on-the-app-store=””/>ithink you are right that this is a great direction to go in

  14. karen_e

    Dear husband, if you are reading this, can we get one? I’m not quite sure what “one” is, but I’m sure you can figure it out. You know, beta-boxee-box-bookmarklet? Queue up the videos and watch them later? We should really get a TV while we’re at it. We’ve been fine for 14 months without one, but maybe it’s time. What with the baby coming in April, and all that.

    1. fredwilson

      my favorite comment of the thread.

  15. du4

    I have a question about Boxee and internet TV widgets in general. In my ongoing frustrations with my cable provider, I’m spending more and more time watching video on the net.So I just bought a sony Bravia TV which features video support for internet widgets. You can add hulu, Netflix, and other video services via an enthernet connection and watch directly on this awesome HD screen. So… what’s different about Boxee compared to THAT? Maybe I haven’t been paying attention, but I thought Boxee was similar to Apple TV, i.e. a device/service that enables watching downloaded video content on the TV. HELP!thanks!Du4

    1. fredwilson

      here’s a video that shows you what the boxee experience is all about’s one of those things that is better experienced than explained

  16. Dave Blanchard

    That watch later / bookmark concept is so powerful that it will probably drive me to not only buy a boxee, but actually watch my TV. It’s a bit analagous to the power of emailing a PDF to my kindle.

  17. genipacra

    I wish Boxee had an “About” tab which explained the service. I know there is the “what is boxee” video but some people prefer to read about the technology offering. Plus, once you join as a member, the video goes away and I can’t figure out where to learn more about the service…

    1. fredwilson

      here’s the video. it’s only 2 minutes and it does a much better job than pages of text

  18. Vladimir Vukicevic

    Very cool stuff from Boxee. It’s fascinating to compare the innovative TV-related thinking that’s coming from companies such as Boxee and the old-school style/approach seen in the Leno/O’Brien shuffling by the old-guard at NBC. The big guys (and their local affiliates) just don’t seem to get it yet.

  19. Andy

    I’ll be excited when I can run Boxxee entirely from my DLNA / WiFi Serving Smartphone – Then I will simply stream to my WiFi enabled display (*Think living room TV – or in my car,etc) …We all know it’s coming. The Smartphone is the new brain (Hub) for EVERYTHING we will do digitally.

  20. LIAD

    beautiful beautiful remote. apple-esque quality to both the industrial design and marketing material.would be nice if they mentioned some of the benefits the functionality provides and not just the functionality itself – giving more of the why and not just the what.the bookmarklet is great and will do wonders for their market positioning.

  21. Joe Lazarus

    Awesome. It would be great if there was a simple way to send videos to the bookmark queue from my iPhone. Maybe give everyone a unique email address that they could send links to from their mobile browser. Nice work Boxee!

    1. daryn

      @joelaz I’m sure we can hack that one together if boxee doesn’t :)glad to see the bookmarking tool; I prototyped something similar when Fred mentioned it last year ( but never spent much time getting it beyond the basics. truthfully though, my new Sony blu-ray player supports netflix, YouTube and a slew of other music/video services as well as podcast/rss, so while it isn’t an open app platform, it is an open media platform, and it works well enough that I haven’t launched boxee in a while.

      1. fredwilson

        that’s why the social stuff is so important. if boxee turns into a social net, then your blu-ray player may not be enough

        1. daryn

          agreed, it just isn’t an ingrained part of my sit on the couch with the tv behavior yet. I fully believe it will be one day soon!

      2. avneron

        brilliant idea. we’ll make it happen

        1. Chris Pollara

          totally agree this is a huge component of differentiation.

    2. fredwilson

      that’s a great idea! i am going to make sure Avner reads this when he comes back from CES

  22. billbarhydt

    we need boxee to move seamlessly between tv and iphone. I know how! 😉

  23. Nicholas Barone

    I’m glad they integrated the bookmarklet idea. Another interesting opportunity for Boxee would be to use an idea Fred mentioned a few months ago, that would be to build an aggregator that pulls videos from my Facebook and Twitter newsfeed that way I could watch recommended videos later at home from my friends without any effort, or if I can’t get to FB or Twitter during the day.It is over the day that you can get live streams of sporting events into the Boxee Box. Imagine a Twitter overlay option where you could tweet and read live updates from the hashtags of the playing teams. Same thing with Fantasy football, no more watching football with your laptop on your lap all scoring and updates could come right from the internet connection and overlay over what your watching.

    1. avneron

      you’ll see the Twitter/FB integration into the feed rolled out over the next few weeks.

  24. Aviah Laor

    So what Google offered?

  25. Tereza

    Fred, Ronen,Ronen we met once in Fred’s office. I have a bit of a TV background and have been paying some attention to DTT (digital terrestrial tv) and its rollout in Europe. DTT is the digital air signal and they’re distribute hybrid boxes at scale (terrestrial and broadband together). Eventually they’ll enter US as well. The objective there is to undercut cable co’s price with fewer channels but the ones that matter, for consumers sick of paying a monthly bill for channels they don’t watch.How does that relate to you? What’s your take on DTT? Are you competitive/complementary? Are you talking to these folks (in your spare time, ha ha). Can Boxee cross borders? (e.g. neutral to varying broadcast signal standards?)It seems like you are exactly what they need to give them oomph…

  26. ShanaC

    This is really wierd to say: But I can’t wrap my head why I need Boxee as long as I am single. I don’t watch TV -and I go out to movies with friends. I just can’t figure it out. I’m slowly reintroducing myself to movies and TV, and I am finding it hard to do it alone. So yeah, I get the concept in theory, but I also get baffled the one time I tried to use it…It feels totally isolating to use without someone to discuss what you are watching/want to watch with (and yes I know it is supposed to be a social software, but it seems I am missing that in my life somehow…)Just saying, I’m baffled by the experience. I’m not sure when I am supposed to get it, and I feel like I should have gotten it…What am I looking to be doing here??

    1. fredwilson

      try watching the TED channelthere are some amazing videos on that channel

  27. jaymeydad

    The bookmarklet is cool but requires some improvement.It seems to only detect embeddedvideo but not links to video pages (i.e. When boxee implements that they should also support short urls that are pointing to video pages as those are pretty popular on twitter.

    1. fredwilson

      totally. right click on a URL link and send it to boxee’s queue. i thinkyou need a browser extension to do that. but i want that!

    2. Casey Pugh

      Great point. We will definitely do that either through the bookmarklet or by a browser extension.

  28. K H

    Fred, you got the quote and link for #1 album on Hypem.

    1. fredwilson

      i know. it made my day…

  29. aanwar

    Boxee is one of your finest investments yet. I am really impressed with the mac version.

    1. fredwilson

      wow, thanks for that. i am very excited about this one too.

  30. Charles Birnbaum

    absolutely great feature Fred. Sure beats my existing daily routine of moving all my video-watching suggestions from friends and colleagues to a specific folder to watch when when I have time. Problem that needed to be solved.

  31. chris barnes

    Very much the future of home viewing.

  32. NICCAI

    Sorry if anyone has posted this already, but is there going to be any international love? The bookmarklet pretty much does it for me, but I’m still flummoxed by content licensing shenanigans of all of the other online services. We Canadians are constantly left out in the cold.

  33. Yael Rozencwajg

    I will definitely turno on Mac now …

  34. Bucky

    Amazing how everyone is cheering all things Boxee but no mention of actually trying to use the software. Its a disaster of UX. I’m a bit supporter of what they want to but first with the “alpha” and now with the “beta” its a tragedy of usability and, unfortunately, just reinforces the value of cable.Full review “Congratulations Boxee, You’re Unusable”

  35. Greg Cohn

    The concept of “bookmark in a discovery context, then consume at a different time/location/consumption context” is a very important one. ReaditLater is a cool service — but Instapaper changed the way I consume web-sized information, via the addition of Kindle integration and a very well done iPhone app. When I see a long article that interests me — or even a link in a twitter stream consumed on Tweetie for iPhone — I simply save it for later. When I have downtime and want to read articles on my iPhone, there they are.Small nuances in the execution make a big difference in how well these things work. “Contexts” have long been a key concept in Getting Things Done, and could be configured to have “read later” category — but when you drop down in front of the tv and find a well-presented queue of stuff you (or your friends) bookmarked, it’s a game-changer.

  36. Chris Kurdziel

    Fred,I have to say, I’m loving the new bookmarklet and agree that it is one of the most exciting features that Boxee announced this week. Kudos to the team for continuing to make Boxee even better (I’ve already given up cable in favor of Boxee). Out of curiosity, what are your thoughts on the Boxee hardware? It seems to me like it is a solid choice from a spec perspective, but the form-factor will be an issue for many who have limited space in their media furniture. I think it would have made more sense to go with an AppleTV/Mac Mini/Acer Aspire Revo form factor. The great thing about the Aspire Revo is that it can attach to an HDTV’s VESA mount so it stays out of sight.

  37. Keenan

    “Boxee Bookmarklet” it’s these “smallish” innovations that propel companies like Boxee into giant successes and big company killers.

  38. Chris Voss

    Wow I just tried the Boxee program and am blown away. I downloaded the Boxee iPhone app and all of a sudden my iPhone is working the Boxee on my computer like a remote!! WOW. I can see the real potential with this and TV integration. Wow. Did I say wow yet.If you have a laptop its easy to hook it up to your TV. And the Apps I guess it’ll be like iPhone where people can make them and basically have their own channels?

  39. Mike Altschul

    Love the new beta (even if it is really buggy in my tests), congrats on the UI and bookmarklet!Question on Boxee’s strategy: is Boxee in the software or hardware (or both) business? What kind of competitive advantage can you gain via Boxee-branded Box, remote and keyboard? Seems to me they should focus on the core product (software) and leave the hardware to the Acer’s and Apple’s of the world.

    1. fredwilson

      they are in the software businessthey are encouraging hardware companies to put their software on theirdevicesi have run into some bugs but they have made the software a lot more stablethan the alpha wasi guess its just a matter of context

  40. David B.

    I’ve been following Boxee for a while now, eagerly waiting. But what’s up with the Boxee Box? Why is it so big?My TV is mounted and I would prefer something that can slip behind the TV. Could you make a flat version too?

    1. fredwilson

      over the next few years, you will hopefully see all sorts of boxee boxesthis is D-Link’s version of one

  41. fredwilson

    when they initially pitched me they were a hardware company. they changed to a software company and now they are partnering with hardware companies to build boxes using their software. i think its a better model

  42. fredwilson

    yes they do. got any inside connections there to help us?

  43. fredwilson

    it’s a good point. but as daryn points out above (he was one of the devs who built something) none of them really commercialized the services they built. most we simply proof of concepts

  44. avneron

    we’re making the API to the Queue open, so any bookmarking service could push stuff to the Queue

  45. reece

    I might.