Another Boxee Box Fail

Every software update that comes down to my Boxee box seems to be mainly about removing features, not adding them. Their last update hilariously removed volume control from the system, in the name of a consistent user experience.
When the system downloaded and forced an update this evening, we had our jokes at the ready about what was going to be removed next.

Well, in our case, it turned out to be support for video. No kidding. It boots, shows a nice video, blinks once or twice, and then rejects the TV as a device it wants have an intimate relationship with. After a bit of research, it turns out that the Boxee’s support for DVI TVs (via a standard converter) was an accidental oversight, and one they cheerily lopped in today’s compulsory update. There are some irate threads running on their community support forums, which all consist of bewildered users vainly searching for words to communicate how it feels to have features routinely removed from your media center against your will, culminating in its actual ability to play video. Unbelievable.

I’m not sure what was to gain by removing support for DVI TV’s. I hope it was good, because this could well nail the coffin shut in terms of the public’s ability to trust the Boxee team to properly curate the project. As I mentioned in my last post when they removed a feature, long gone are the days you bought a gadget for its packaged features. Connected devices like Boxee are bought based on trust in the manufacturer, to maintain the service, add the right features, and to not be evil. Whatever about punters in shops, the boxee team are losing the trust of their early adopters.

If anyone from boxee is reading this, consider this question: Am I better off spending €500+ on a new TV to support your update, or perhaps using that money to buy a better system while flogging the boxee on ebay?

How to fix
Should anyone be in the same boat, here’s a detailed description and resolution:

After update 1.1.2.19250, the boxee reboots, and shows the opening animation. When that’s done, the boxee logo on the box blinks once, and the TV loses its signal. The box remains on, but there is no video output.

This appears to be limited to those that are sending video through a HDMI-DVI converter. Apparently DVI support was never official, so we should have expected it to be arbitrarily removed at any time in a compulsory update without warning.

You can get things up and running by switching back to the previous version (performing a manual update) and preventing the compulsory update re-fubaring your system (by blocking access in your router’s control panel).

EDIT: As of 25th June 2011, update 1.1.3.19252 fixes this issue. See this thread for information on how to install it. This seems to be a special-case fix until it can be rolled into the next official version, and to the Boxee team’s credit, it took them just 5 days to make it available. I hope that this episode will lead them to improve both their testing and communications for the future. Like many of the early adopters among the Boxee userbase, I want to love this product. I want to recommend it to friends, and buy it for them at Christmas, because I believe in the Boxee project. But to do that, I need some re-assurance that these updates from hell will stop.

Details are:

  1. You need to stop the Boxee from auto-updating. To do this, you need to get into your router’s admin control panel, and block access to the following site: “app.boxee.tv/chkupd/dlink.dsm380”.
  2. Download the previous firmware from
    http://dl.boxee.tv/version/dlink.dsm380/1.1.1.19092/boxee.iso
  3. Stick it on a USB thumbdrive, put it in the Boxee. Turn it off, and then turn it back on by holding down the power button for 6-10 seconds. It will now boot into recovery.
  4. Choose to “upgrade” to the version on the USB thumbdrive.

Now, we wait to see how the Boxee team respond. You can also vote on this bug here: http://jira.boxee.tv/browse/BOXEE-10224 (you’ll need to create an account).

Update – June 22 2011
According to this thread, the Boxee team have started work on “a fix that will be released soon”. This is great news, but is unfortunately hearsay. I hope that it will be officially confirmed and that steps will be taken to improve communication in general.

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Posted in Life, Tech
10 comments on “Another Boxee Box Fail
  1. […] here: Another Boxee Box Fail « Sean Blanchfield's Blog Read more from Boxee boxee, consistent-user, control-from, from-the-system, last-update, […]

    • formless says:

      I just bought a boxee a month ago. YouTube doesn’t work on there anymore either. I can’t believe how horrible its turning out to be. I should have bought an xbox instead.

  2. tqila says:

    im a shop-a-holic when it comes to technology and random fun stuff.

    so in other words, i buy A LOT of stuff.

    but the boxee box is actually the ONLY thing i regret buying.

    its crap, and instead of making it better they make it even more crappier with every update.

    and im warning all my friends to stay way out of the way of anything boxee.

  3. Léon Lebon says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for the instructions. There is a small glitch in the fourth point. If you really block these two domains, your Boxee Box will also prevent you from logging in your account, which is as useless as without video output. The correct URL to block is: “app.boxee.tv/chkupd/dlink.dsm380”. It prevents upgrades, but let you log in your account…
    BTW, you can vote on the bug: http://jira.boxee.tv/browse/BOXEE-10224

  4. Sean Blanchfield says:

    Thanks for the tip Léon and bug link. I will update the post accordingly.

  5. MrMichael says:

    Wait, your complaining when a device is connected in a NON SUPPORTED way and it stops working? I’m expecting another blog post from someone out there complaining the Boxee doesn’t support svideo or something. As far as volume control goes, do you control volume of your dvd player with your dvd player remote? The boxee should never have had volume control to start with, control the volume with your tv or receiver.

  6. Stu says:

    The main point here is not a complaint about un-supported connections, it’s the forced update that have failed time and time again. We are the beta testers, it would be nice to have the choice to get the latest release or to wait a few weeks for the problems to be fixed.

    Let us also not forget this update was a fix to the previous release which broke YouTube functionality, watch later, and more.

    Plenty of fixes that were promised when I purchased this device have been set aside for the sake of new bells and whistles that are not completely developed, break, crash and feel more like alpha than beta.

    I think one telling part of this device is how buried the forums are now on the website if you are not logged in. Obviously they don’t want people reading what the users are experiencing when their marketing message is so much more effective than our experiences.

  7. […] wasn’t without is bouquets and brickbats. You can read about issues beautifully articulated here. BTW, Boxee listened to its customers and fixed these issues […]

  8. Sean Grimes says:

    I should have my box by tomorrow. Looking to replace my ROKU. It seems like 20-25% of all Boxee users have nothing but horror stories. I built an HTPC and used Boxee on it for a while. Hope I don’t have all of the other issues I’ve heard about. I’d really like to know if it supports Playon very well.

  9. Sean Grimes says:

    Just stopping by your blog again. I’ve had my box for about 3 weeks now and the experience hasn’t been all that bad, but it hasn’t been all that great either. UPNP doesn’t work with this device anymore. Not at all!! At first, I could at least browse my Playon server and NAS via UPNP, but now, all I get is an error when attempting to do anything with UPNP. I can live with this because I can connect to my Playon server via the Boxee browser. It’s still a bit of an annoyance though. I also had a problem with the recent Youtube update. It really needs work and has locked up my box several times.

    Using this box to play content from my NAS has been a good experience though. It can pretty much handle any file I throw at it.

    I like the wireless remote, but most people still use IR universal remotes. The only way I’ve been able to use an IR remote is to plug in a USB Microsoft compatible IR blaster. If I reboot the box, the IR remote stops working and I have to unplug the IR blaster and plug it back in. Not a biggie, but still an annoyance.

    If I were to give this box a grade, it would be somewhere between a C+ and B-. Hopefully, the Boxee team can get things worked out so I can give it an A+.

    I just don’t understand why it seems that things get worse with each update. You’d think it would be the other way around. I just hope there isn’t a serious hardware issue with these boxes that we’re not being told about.

  10. Dexx says:

    Bought a boxee box today.
    Had a friend strongly recommend it, but to view videos I need to buy either a new $1000 projector or a new TV that’s compatible with the DRM for services I won’t use.
    Taking it back tomorrow.

  11. Yep says:

    Just bought one yesterday and had a wonderful 20 minutes of nice sound before it started sounding like its running through a blown speaker. My FLAC files sound like 10 bps mp3s or melted cassettes…switched to all outputs, reset etc etc…back to my Ubuntu server (which this plays from) sans Netflix I guess…it was cheaper and worked better.

    I’m an IT guy and always told everyone don’t buy D-Link…wish I had kept to my own advice…

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