Regrettably, I'm having to give up on XBMC, and stay with Boxee - Printable Version
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Regrettably, I'm having to give up on XBMC, and stay with Boxee - jw15851 - 2012-03-28 21:54
XBMC is beautiful, the development teams have done a wonderful job, nothing I write here disputes that. If it were a car, it would be the most customizable, luxurious, vehicle ever made... a vehicle that could drive on virtually any road surface, under a wide range of different conditions... a joy to drive, and handles like a dream... But it has one major flaw.... it's not allowed on public roads. As long as you stay on your property, we guarantee that you will absolutely love it.
I think we can all agree that the world of TV entertainment is moving to internet streaming services, such as Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, etc. And unfortunately, XBMC does not support those. As a PVR supplement to existing cable/TV services, support is highly experimental at best. I look at the list of new features for EDEN, and the requested features in the forums, and just scratch my head. The new features are nice, and the requested features people are asking for seem to be largly niche features, it seems to me that everyone is overlooking the critical aspects that need to be met (such as reliable streaming service support, reliable and easy BluRay / DVD playback, reliable PVR capabilities, etc.)
I really *really* wanted to use XBMC. I built a Mini-ITX PC, purchased a bluetooth keyboard/dongle, got the IR remote, Installed Linux (no bluetooth, No Netflix) then installed Windows7 (apparently no functional Netflix) and spend 3 full evenings till the wee hours of the morning, trying to get some kind of reliable operation...the whole 9 yards. But without Netflix working reasonably well (about 60% of our viewing) and without XBMC as a whole working reliably once I've taken the time to set it up, I can't expect it to be the center of my living room entertainment center, nor, expect my wife and family to use and understand it.
I'm sure there must be political/legal reasons why the streaming services can't just be built into the software, but this is really driving me crazy. Netflix is a large portion of our viewing experience, and without that functionality, it's really hard to justify building the media center PC (That I just built). I love the appearance, and customization of XBMC, but once I get it setup, I want it to just work and work reliably. (oops Hulu died again, oops the skin you spent hours configuring isn't compatible with the last update, oops Netflix is nowhere to be found (in any repository) and 30% functional when you do hunt it down, so all in all, apart from NAS movie playback, it's largely pointless for our uses.
I can't understand why the developers don't just give up on trying to build in the player, and just make it launch a full screen IE window with the Netflix site already logged in. The XBMC site/silverlight keeps track of your movies, etc. Why even try to integrate it? When the IE window with Netflix is in front, it remaps the keys to work with the standard controls, when you are done, it closes the window returning you to the XBMC experience. If you have to use IE, just use it and quit trying to do some kind of hybrid thing.
The other part is the Netflix/Linux thing. I guess there may be legal issues around obtaining the secrets to building it into linux with an open source project. But clearly Netflix works with Linux (unless it's an x86 cpu thing) Boxee has a functional implementation of it (built on XBMC), Boxeebox (which runs on linux) works fine, Tivo has it (linux), or how about almost any one of the BluRay players on the market (generally flavors of linux) all have it.
Random idea from an outsider: If the issue with Hulu, Netflix, etc. is that XBMC is an open source project, why don't the developers segment off a small group to work alone on those projects. Incorporate as a non-profit if needed, the "employees" of the organization sign the NDAs, and then develop and release locked modules that will then play nice with the overall larger project. This way the deepest darkest secrets of Netflix aren't being released to the general population.
Regardless, I've come to the very disappointing and frustrating (if you can't tell) conclusion that I have to stay with my Boxee box, despite having just built a complete media center PC. Sure the Boxee box skin is butt-ugly compared to XBMC, but, it works. Youtube works, Hulu works, Netflix works, and streaming video from a NAS works (and the scraper works pretty well too). No configuring hidden xml files, no remapping keys or completely different control interface for Netflix. If the twits at Boxee would just allow some custom skins, it would absolutely dominate. Boxee's "car" isn't as pretty and luxurious as XBMC's, but at least I actually get to drive it somewhere.
Just my perspective as an outsider trying to understand and make use of a really cool piece of software.
RE: Regrettably, I'm having to give up on XBMC, and stay with Boxee - Trip Se7en - 2012-03-28 22:01
I'm a Junior member who just joined today as I see you did too, so I have to ask a question. Did you really create an account just to nag on the developers who do all this for all of us for free and at no cost to us? Maybe I may be cynical in asking that, but shame on you.
RE: Regrettably, I'm having to give up on XBMC, and stay with Boxee - jw15851 - 2012-03-28 22:18
I was very careful to complement the developers in my post, and I did so very sincerely. They've done a wonderful job on what they've built. I've followed XBMC from afar for well over a year a now, but haven't felt the need to join the forums until recently.
My intention is to vent my frustrations and issues that I believe are holding back XBMC from becoming an unstoppable powerhouse. My personal feeling is that the project might be losing it's direction just a bit. Adding improved touch screen support is nice, but to me a higher priority would be addressing the basics that people expect and need from a media center PC software.
If no one dares to question this to point out the frustrations experienced with trying to use and implement the software, how will they know? It would be a dis-service and a shame on me to not point out the pitfalls, and pains a "new user" feels, when trying to implement this software. I know from personal experience, that when (as the developer of a project) you work closely with something, you get used to the quirks and problems and begin to overlook them. It often takes a fresh set of eyes, to look at something, and ask the "dumb questions" to put the spotlight back on the fundamentals of a project, instead of the fluff features. I work in marketing and I can't tell you how much I appreciate candid honest feedback on a project.
And again, the work that has been done is incredible. I appreciate it, and I marvel at how such a wide, diverse group of people can possibly accomplish so much, (for free no less) especially when they are not face to face in the same office. But that doesn't mean that one should not offer honest, user experience feedback.
RE: Regrettably, I'm having to give up on XBMC, and stay with Boxee - Trip Se7en - 2012-03-28 22:26
Fair enough. It is a product that relies on the user doing a bit of legwork to get set up as it isn't as out-of-the-box friendly as other solutions.
That is why I am here. I need help from the community and that is all the support that is offered, so that can be a drawback for some.
Enjoy the Boxee Box in the meantime.
RE: Regrettably, I'm having to give up on XBMC, and stay with Boxee - Sureguy - 2012-03-28 22:30
I don't know if you saw this post, but it's what I'm using - and it works
It's worth a try.
For the close netflix script I have it close netflix, hulu, and XBMC, then relaunch XBMC. That way if XBMC does something weird I can just press a key on my remote and restart XBMC. Not the most graceful solution, but it fixes any XBMC issues with out me having to get out a keyboard and mouse, or remote into my system.
RE: Regrettably, I'm having to give up on XBMC, and stay with Boxee - Sureguy - 2012-03-28 22:59
Regarding Netflix not running on linux properly, but running on dedicated devices that run linux, you have to look to Netflix for that issue, not XBMC. Netflix is probably providing Tivo, Boxee, etc with closed source APIs. Netflix has to answer to the content creators regarding security, as does Microsoft (Silverlight). Unless someone wants to break the law and hack the custom API there's not much we can do but wait for proper linux support.
RE: Regrettably, I'm having to give up on XBMC, and stay with Boxee - teaguecl - 2012-03-28 23:08
JW: I understand your concerns, and I do believe your feedback has been given here in a respectful and constructive manner. I do not speak for the Team, but I do have some insight into some of the issues you bring up. First, your main complaint is lack of Netflix support. This is not the fault of XBMC - this is the fault of Netflix, and you should vocally complain to them about it. You're suggestion of opening an Internet Explorer window is a non-starter since it won't work on all platforms, though a addon for this isn't out of the question.
It seems to me that Team XBMC has a very clear idea of what belongs in the core of XBMC - and an equally clear view of what does not. They are expanding the Add-On functionality so that people can implement nearly anything they want there, without polluting the core. A Netflix addon would be easily do-able, all you need is a license from Microsoft for the Silverlight DRM, and permission from Netflix. Unfortunately both parties have made it clear they will not allow their products on systems that are not locked down, for fear of tampering/reverse engineering/theft.
Netflix's policies force things such that only trusted devices can access their content - so an open media player isn't an option. Complain to them about it. You're idea of developing a Neflix compatible module under NDA is a good one - but as I mentioned above they will not approve such a project unless the end product is made tamper-proof and non-rootable. This is not just Netflix being unreasonable - it's the only way they can convince the content providers to give them licenses. Netflix had announced HTML5 support years ago but have so far not followed through - that would probably open the door to XBMC support. Call them up and request it.
Your complaints are valid - unfortunately they are pointed in the wrong direction.
RE: Regrettably, I'm having to give up on XBMC, and stay with Boxee - pike - 2012-03-28 23:11
@jw15851 I will just say 2 things:
1. The services you mention are mostly if not 100% only available to people who lives in USA. Team XBMC is not focused on this market, we don't focus on any market.
2. Opensource and these services you mention don't mix. This is why Boxee is described as 'Partially Opensource' (this makes me chuckle), either you are opensource or you're not.
RE: Regrettably, I'm having to give up on XBMC, and stay with Boxee - alexpigment - 2012-03-28 23:26
(2012-03-28 21:54)jw15851 Wrote: Random idea from an outsider: If the issue with Hulu, Netflix, etc. is that XBMC is an open source project, why don't the developers segment off a small group to work alone on those projects. Incorporate as a non-profit if needed, the "employees" of the organization sign the NDAs, and then develop and release locked modules that will then play nice with the overall larger project. This way the deepest darkest secrets of Netflix aren't being released to the general population.
- This is basically what Boxee did, I believe. While I don't want to encourage anyone to abandon XBMC, it sounds to me like your time would be best spent suggesting features to the Boxee forums to improve their project (i.e. things that made you want to try out XBMC).
RE: Regrettably, I'm having to give up on XBMC, and stay with Boxee - jachred - 2012-03-29 00:54
I don't understand the Netflix love, I had their streaming service and was rather disappointed, it was 2 years ago, but very limited movies/tv. I use HULU+ (works well via add on) and Amazon VOD (works well, lots Nick/Nick Jr just signed on) as well as YouTube. I am a basic user of 2 weeks now. I enjoy how easy it is to setup XMBCbuntu and have my Android remote. My wife can use it easily, and that matters too! I think I would give up Netflix before I give up my XBMC, just to many other options!