A compulsory update to the Boxee box landed last night between two episodes of the excellent The Killing. Thankfully the upgrade went quickly and smoothly, leaving me with a bit of a slicker UI, and happy with some much needed improvements to little things like scrubbing through video.
Happy, that is, until I tried to turn the volume down. “Strange“, thought I, “the up/down D-pad buttons don’t control volume any more“. I tried pressing everything else, hunting through menus, mashing the rubber ZX81 keyboard on the back of the remote… everything.
One quick online hunt later I discovered the unbelievable truth. The Boxee Blog reveals that in the search for a “more consistent” user experience, volume control has been entirely purged from the functionality of the Boxee box. Too hilarious to be true? Alas no. There’s a long stream of rather irate comments, including a few poignant observations that forcing everyone to juggle two remotes in the name of usability is a bit perverse.
When you buy into a platform like Boxee, part of your decision is based on the expectation that the developers will continue to release updates and upgrades, and will make sensible decisions. The Boxee developers are wearing out their credibility. The initial Boxxe software release for the DLink Boxee Box simplified/crippled the software (to many peoples dismay), simultaneously de-emphasising access to local media in favor of streaming from premium sources. Now an unbelievable UX design blunder in a compulsory update to every Boxee owner cripples volume control. They’ve really got to take a serious look at themselves.