Could the Sony PlayStation 3 Be the Ultimate Boxee Platform?

I was just thinking… could the PS3 be the ultimate living room friendly platform for Boxee? If you remember at the beginning of December, Boxee announced Netflix streaming support for their platform; but, unfortunately, couldn’t get it to work consistently on the Apple TV because it was underpowered. As such, the Apple TV gets knocked out of contention as the go-to device for Boxee by most people in regards to streaming video from online content providers. Well, as you know, the PlayStation 3 is more than capable spec wise to handle streaming video – it is a Blu-ray player and game console by design. The PS3 is also a Linux PC as well, if you want to install a Linux OS on it. Being the case, one can install Ubuntu and then Boxee to get the whole shebang with full HD support and a powerful processor. Even better… I’d recommend that the Boxee team create a custom barebones Ubuntu-based installer for the PS3 that launches Boxee automatically after boot-up – so all you have to do is toggle over in the PS3 menu and launch Boxee. What do you guys think?

Aside: Now we just have to wait for Netflix to support streaming on Linux, which rumor has it will be available sometime in 2009.

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Filed in: Software, Streaming Media Devices

21 Reactions to “Could the Sony PlayStation 3 Be the Ultimate Boxee Platform?”

  1. MattH says:

    What about the Roku Netflix box? Runs Linux, and (obviously) can support Netflix.

  2. You’re absolutely right — sort of (see final thought below). I guess I’m thinking of a device that offers: Gaming, Blu-ray, Online Video Streaming, and Network Media Playback capability all-in-one. Not bad at the $399 price point the 80GB PS3 is going for. Personally, I’d buy the PS3 so I can use it as a Blu-ray movie player and then use Boxee for everything else (I’m not much of a gamer).

    Final thought… I’m not sure Boxee will ever be able to run on the Netflix Player by Roku like it does on the Apple TV. But I guess it’s possible if one could hack the locked down OS running the device (I heard there’s hardware key checks incorporated a la TiVo). They released an SDK recently for third parties to integrate their services (i.e. Hulu), but Boxee is more of a full blown application. Who knows… maybe (I wouldn’t mind). Oh and I just remembered: Netflix Player by Roku has limitations on streaming HD video. According to a Roku team member: “Roku will be using Advanced Profile encodes which will deliver HD at substantially lower bit-rates than what Xbox is offering.”

  3. Benoit Jadinon says:

    I think the video driver for ps-ubuntu isn’t ready to play HD video, even lowres video actually. sadly we won’t see this happening anytime soon.

  4. Looks like it’s capable of displaying 720p/1080i/1080p according to the Ubuntu Docs:

  5. How does Boxee or xbmc differ from Tversity or MediaTomb?

    I’m using Tversity to stream to a PS3 from a Windows Media Center PC and MediaTomb from Linux.

  6. avner ronen says:

    could be a great platform for us.
    only issue is that we need to get their approval/support in order to develop it

  7. I don’t see why, Avner, if you’re referring to Sony. You can install any Linux OS on the PS3 without permission. You can also mod the Ubuntu distribution to your needs without permission as well (but a blessing from Canonical never hurts — they might even help promote it).

  8. avner ronen says:

    yes, i know. i was referring for a more mainstream way for users to get boxee on PS3

  9. You can install Linux, but you do not get direct access to the hardware so while you can do a lot with video, it may not be as nice as if we could get closer to the hardware.


  10. Ah, man. I just found some info confirming that video on PS3 via Linux is not up to snuff as we hoped. A major let down possibly, but may be not for streaming and playing back HD video? This is what the Yellow Dog Linux FAQ states:

    QUESTION: What level of graphics support is available?

    At this point in time, YDL runs in framebuffer mode on the PS3, meaning there is no 2D nor 3D accelleration nor support for OpenGL. The driver is fully functional in its framebuffer mode, offering quality support for a wide variety of hi-def televisions and computer monitors that comply with the PS3 video output signals.

    * I also stumbled on a thread at PS3Fourms on this very topic.

  11. Toe-Knee says:

    I think it’s a great idea. I am the owner of a PS3 and bought Playon to get the streaming functionality for Netflix, Hulu, CBS, and YouTube on the device. PlayOn piggybacks on the Windows media Player to stream from the PC to the PS3. However, the Boxee would be a straight connection from the internet and will alleviate my need to turn on my computer everytime I want to watch anything on Netflix. Besides the Boxee interface is by far better than the XMB interface. It would be great if we can have the power of the PS3 with a product like Boxee.

  12. I agree that it is also a great idea.

  13. sastian says:

    This idea just struck me tonight as well, but my thoughts is that it would have to be like a native app for the ps3

    Good to see avner on top of this one ;)

  14. Rafael says:

    It would be impossible to run Boxee on the PS3 from a Linux installation. The PS3 has a thing called a hypervisor whose job it is to keep the ATI video chip locked out from the Linux side. Linux on PS3 is painfully slow. The system could only access less than 200 megs of RAM (out of 256 main memory and 256 video memory). The Boxee group would have to get in contact with Sony and get permission to port the program over to the PS3 on the game OS.

    Given the fact that the guys at Sony have no idea (Home anyone) what to do with the awesome machine that they’ve built it wouldn’t surprise me if they don’t take them on the offer.

  15. I jumped over to YouTube to see if anyone had any relevant Linux on PS3 demos. I found a few of interest:

    PS3 YDL Linux playing High Def

    PS3 GPU Use in Linux (RSX)

    This project also looks pretty exciting:

  16. bniesz says:

    Do you homework.

    Boxee is an Intel-only development built off Xbox Media Center or XBMC (that’s OG xbox, not 360). The PS3 uses Cell processors and therefor Boxee wouldn’t even begin to run on it, even under Linux. That is of course, unless the whole thing was re-developed from the ground up for the PS3 specifically, which is unlikely in the near future. (The same is true for PPC Macs)

    Additionally, with the addition of Netflix to Xbox360 and TivoHD, I think there may be some exclusivity legalities to deal with. Not to mention that Sony would rather you be purchasing and renting movies from their online store, so they’re likely to kill anymore workarounds that arise. But that’s beyond my point.

    However, I do hear rumors of a Boxee banded device….

  17. Rafael says:

    I did my homework.
    A port is an amazing thing. It lets you play halo on a mac. Its lets you run linux on many different types of hardware. It puts powerpc software on x86 and vice versa.

    The only thing required for Boxee to run on a powerpc (PS3,G3,G4,G5)is a programmer or group of programmers to take on the task. Boxee is open source (Firefox, and therefore could be ported to any system as long as somebody is willing to do the work.

    Also, Netflix might have struck a deal with Microsoft but that does not keep Boxee from running it on whatever system it is installed on.

    The closest thing of a Boxee device at the moment is the Apple TV. I always considered the ATV to be kind of a lame duck because it limits you to iTunes and its pathetic amount of compatible codecs. Now finding out that Boxee and XBMC (Xbox Media Center) could very easily be installed on the system I am feeling compelled to purchase one for myself.

    Maybe I could find a cheap one on craigslist.

  18. While it’s true there is no version of XBMC / Boxee currently available for the PPC processor, it is possible to port XBMC to PPC with people’s help, says Team-XBMC Project Manager, Gamester17 (note: he even recommends using the Ubuntu for PS3 / PPC distro for development). That’s where Boxee, with their programmers and financial resources, could come in if they thought the PS3 was a worthwhile platform.

    I have no horse in the race, but whatever route Boxee decides to take it will be interesting to follow.

  19. […] on the PC and Apple TV. Unfortunately, many people inquire if there’s a game console add-on (related) or a dedicated box they can use to connect directly to their TV with little cost or configuration. […]

  20. Bradkohl says:

    I’m trying to build the best media center that a somewhat modest budget and a full on nerd can build.

    I can think of no better marriage than boxee and ps3.

    I’ve tried many and Boxee is by far the best media center interface. (At least better than frontrow, windows media center, xbmc, and mythTV)

    I just bought an appletv and installed boxxee and xbmc instantly. After two days I am already ready to take it back frustrated with the lack of Netflix support.

    The PS3 has the power for great HD video, a blu-ray player, and hdmi out. If Sony opened up their console to Boxee, they might just start making money on their flop of a system. I know I would buy one, just as I and many others bought an appleTV after a long time of never seeeing the value in it.

    For now, it looks like I’ll have to wait until someone smarter than me ports Boxee to the PS3 or mac-minis start shipping with Blu-Ray drives and hdmi out, before I can satiate my media center cravings.