I wanted to “cut the cable” to save some cash and get better TV choices for my family. Now, Apple TV media content unto itself is a “Pay-per-view” deal through iTunes, which basically sucks and would defeat my cost cutting agenda. But hey, if you’ve got the jack, then pay for the same content you can get for free via Boxee. Oh, and it is legal!
Since I’ve been beta testing the pre-public release of Boxee for Windows and the product is fairly reliable, I decided to give Boxee’s version for Apple TV a spin. I decided on this format because an Apple TV is $230 vs. building a $650-$850 Media Center PC. Now, there are limitations to Apple TV with Boxee. You can’t record TV shows and it has only a 1 ghz processor and 256 mb’s of ram, so response is not supper snappy. I run Windows Home Server, so I set up my media folders (movies, TV shows, pictures, music) as a share to Boxee. So, Apple TV with Boxee makes accessing my media via the TV pretty darn convenient.
Now, there are some caveats to using Boxee in general given it is still in public alpha. No matter which platform you use (Windows, Mac OS, Linux or ATV), Boxee is updated every few weeks. Sometimes these updates fix known issues and sometimes these updates …..er…ah….cause other issues. Hey, it’s alpha and it’s free right? Honestly, Boxee is built on the XBMC platform, so it’s come a long way in a short time! There have been issues with Hulu, PBS, properly scanning shared media libraries and adding the content correctly. Some, like me, have experienced little issues at all while others have had some minor setbacks and tweaking.
What you need to install Boxee on Apple TV
- Obviously, pick up a 40 gb Apple TV on line or your favorite big box store – $200-$250
- Pick up a 1gb-4gb usb thumb drive. Need this to install the patchstick hack that installs Boxee and XBMC on your Apple TV. I used a Sandisk 2 gb Cruzer Micro.
- Download the Apple TV Patchstick files. Two versions available depending on whether you are installing them to the usb thumb drive from Mac OS or Windows.
- Power off the Apple TV, insert the patchstick thumb drive, power up and watch the linux patch install.
- Power down, remove patchstick usb thumb drive and power back on.
- You will see Launcher as a new option on Apple TV. Click Update and install the latest Launcher version (currently 3.1).
- Now click Update again and click Boxee. This will download and install Boxee.
- When done, Boxee will be on the menu, so fire it up and set things up.
That’s the quick and dirty of it, but there are more details you should sort through to get your head around it. Below I’ve included some links to get you on the path to Boxee on Apple TV bliss!
Install Boxee on Apple TV Links:
Rather than recreate what is already out there, here are some good info resources.
What is Boxee? – Quick video showing what it does.
Boxee – Go here and create a user account on Boxee. You’ll need this account info (user / password) inside Boxee once you install it on Apple TV.
Boxee Forums – You’ll need this if you have any problems or info on new applications etc. You’ll have to set up a separate user account for this site.
Cut the Cable for Good with Boxee and Apple TV – This will walk you through the actual making of the patchstick and installing on Apple TV.
ATV USB Creator Files – Need this to make the patchstick. Mac OS or Windows version.
How to install boxee on Apple TV – Youtube vid showing it in action.
Boxee on Apple TV in conjunction with a rooftop HD antenna has enabled my family to “Cut the Cable,” which allows us to view what we want to see and when we want to see it for free. Now go do your research and cut the cable with Boxee & Apple TV on the cheap!