On Monday Boxee, the Mac, Linux, and Apple TV-only Xbox Media Center derivative, announced the immediate support of video programming from Hulu and CBS. Users are now able to access the entirety both services catalogs of movies and TV shows through Boxee's interface. I spent the greater part of last night giving it a spin and while not perfect, it's off to a tremendous start.
Unlike some of the streaming solutions I've seen on other platforms, like the unofficial Netflix Watch Instantly for Windows Media Center plug-in, the beauty of Boxee's solution is that any semblance of a browser (the platform that these video viewers were designed for) is nonexistent. The Hulu player is the same as you get through your browser, but it's been modified to run without some of the border options like the "dim lights" and full screen toggles which, when using Boxee's system, become irrelevant. Likewise, the CBS player has had its user comments and rating system removed in favor for Boxee's own community tools.
The removal of both players' UIs in place of Boxee's presents some problems. With both the Hulu and CBS video player you're able to jump around to different parts of a show. In Hulu's current iteration this isn't possible. What's worse is that the player controls are still present, but you're not able to click on them since the Boxee UI pops up to block them with any user movement. This isn't a deal breaker with short 20 minute programs, but on longer, hour-long shows it's a pain.
I still think one of Boxee's greater draws is not as a video player as much as being a highly capable Internet radio jukebox for multiple platforms. You're able to tap into Last.fm, the BBC, Jamendo, and standards like Shoutcast. Managing any of these services is just as easy with a remote control as it is with a keyboard. Considering most game consoles and set top cable boxes can't do this, there's some serious potential for bringing these services into your living room, where before it was only possible with a home theater PC.
Boxee remains in private beta, although is on track for a public release at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in January.
Note: CBS is the parent company of Webware's publisher CNET News and owner of the Last.fm social music service.