Boxee for iPad is another live-converting, video streaming app (like our favourites StreamToMe and Air Video), but it also lets you collect videos from the web that you want to watch and does all of this for free.The app itself isn’t terribly useful on its own, so you’ll need to install Boxee Media Manager (also free for Windows and Mac) to stream videos from your local computers to your iPad and the Watch It Later bookmarklet to collect videos from the web.
The Media Manager software lets you add directories on your computer with video inside and access them from the iPad app. You’ll then be able to watch those videos on your iPad. If the format isn’t compatible, Boxee will convert it in real-time. In our tests, we found that lower-quality AVIs tended to look better perhaps because converting a 720p MKV required a bit more power — which is to say that a higher quality source may not be better for live conversion purposes. Also, while conversion was quick it took quite a while to load the actual video prior to playback. Currently there is no AirPlay support but Boxee is working to add that feature.
The Watch It Later bookmarklet is really handy as you can surf to any page with a video on it, click the bookmarklet, and save that video to your iPad. The downside is that the app doesn’t seem to update too often (or ever), so it was necessary to force-quit the and relaunch it in order to see the added videos. Once that was done, however, all the collected web videos were quickly available to watch right from the iPad.
While the feature set is pretty good, and the interface is beautiful, the first release has some quirks that might make it a little problematic for some users. If you’re patient, however, it’s a good local streaming option for all kinds of video.
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