Initially, I loved Boxee. It was the cat’s meow in terms of media management, and media playback. As someone who has ripped (and re-encoded) 200+ DVDs more than once, it was a welcome relief to have software to pull together album art, names, synopses, etc. I always found the interface less than desirable, and never understood the ‘social’ aspect of it (still don’t), but it made my life a lot easier.
Then came the whispers (and eventual announcement and release) of dedicated Boxee hardware; the Boxee box. That was when things started going wrong. Because of the semi-secretive development of the Boxee Box and its feature set, the PC version’s continued development suffered. Prior to the announcement/leak that there would be a Boxee Box, the developer had always had an excellent presence on the Boxee forums. After the announcement it became more and more difficult to get updates regarding the PC version. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that Boxee was (and will continue to be for a very short time) free software, and as such the end user cannot expect direct support from the developer, but it is fair to say that the community had become accustom to an open flow of information. The abrupt loss of this soured the experience terribly and spurred my move to PLEX.
PLEX is a wonderful bit of software, based on the same original source as Boxee, XBMC. XBMC is a fairly mature project, one that started out providing an alternative (and media centric) dashboard for the original Xbox. The history section of their Wikipedia entry is an interesting read. PLEX started out as an custom OS X port of XBMC and has blossomed into a cross-platform media center/server combo with exclusive features.
Best of all, when I run into trouble with PLEX I can jump on Campfire and chat directly to the project leader and developers.
Bye Boxee, I won’t miss you one bit.