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RAIN 12/16: RAIN reviews newest web-connected TV box

Posted on: 12/16/2010

BOXEE BOX MAKES NET RADIO A MASSES-FRIENDLY EXPERIENCE

Not content with taking over your mobile phone, Internet radio is making its way onto your TV. The television may seem an odd platform for something like web radio, but we’ve discussed in RAIN why web-connected TVs could be an unexpected benefit to Net radio (here). Devices from Roku, Google TV and others include access to Net radio services. The newest, the Boxee Box ($200), is happily sitting in my living room.

As far as Internet radio is concerned, the Boxee Box is a winner. It includes apps from Pandora and RadioTime (though it seems to be missing Last.fm, which appeared on Boxee’s earlier software). The apps are well-designed and easy to navigate using Boxee’s brilliant QWERTY remote control. You can fire up the Boxee Box and have Pandora blasting tunes through your home stereo system for your Christmas party without breaking a sweat.

Plus, as with all web-connected TV boxes, the Boxee Box forces Internet radio services to be as simple and easy-to-use as possible. There are no frills, no distractions. Just radio. It’s one of the best ways to introduce Net radio to folks normally confused by the whole concept.

Of course, Net radio is just one of the features of the Boxee Box. It also streams Net video content, accesses content on networked hard drives and includes lots of other great apps. The Boxee software is open-source and free to try here. — MS

MUSIC APPS FINDING THEIR WAY TO NEW PLATFORMS

A new article from ABC News investigates how the concept of “apps,” first created for mobile devices, is finding its way onto new platforms. From tablet computers to TVs to cars, “the app is far too powerful a tool to be limited to mobile phones.”

ABC News points to Pandora as a prime example. Its landed on TVs and Blu-ray players from Samsung, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Sharp, Sanyo, Sony, Toshiba, Vizio, Heier and Hitachi, while also leading the charge into car dashboards.

“The smart-phone phenomenon is the catalyst for all this stuff,” Pandora founder Tim Westergren said. “It got consumers to begin using apps in all of these places, whether it was taking an iPhone and plugging it into the dashboard or docking it into your stereo system.” You can read ABC News’ full article here.

BMW UNVEILS ITS NEW WEB RADIO-FRIENDLY MODELS

In March 2011 new cars from BMW roll out capable of interacting with the company’s newly-released web radio iPhone app (RAIN coverage here). The compatible models include the new BMW 1 Series Coupe and new BMW 1 Series Convertible (pictured). You can find out more about both cars here.



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