Media boxes like the Apple TV and Boxee Box are great for bringing Internet content from your PC to your living room. Being an owner of both said devices, my recommendation for everyone is ultimately the Boxee Box. Although it does have a higher price tag than the Apple TV, it allows you to do so much more with built-in apps, local media streaming, and even social networking. As the days go on I find more and more reasons to love the Boxee Box. A recent discovery lead to resolving an issue I had that many content hoarders can relate to – no network storage.
Built into the Boxee Box’s settings is an option to enable Windows file sharing, which allows any sort of storage device attached to the Boxee Box to be shared over your local network. I’ll be walking you through the steps in this simple tutorial.
But before you do that, some of you may be wondering why would you want to do this. What are the benefits? You’ll benefit most from this if you already own an external hard drive.
First off, buying a traditional NAS hard drive could cost you anywhere between $130 and into the thousands (if you’re real serious). Another alternative to this solution would be to build your own NAS server, but that’s overkill for a typical user like you and me. Plus, an entire computer that’s left on 24/7 could eat up some serious power. Think about your next electricity bill. Yikes.
This is why using your Boxee Box as NAS is a good, low-powered, multi-purpose solution. I haven’t done my own tests, but the fine folks over at AnandTech included power consumption tests in their Boxee Box review. Their conclusion was that the Boxee Box draws between 11.2 and 15.2 watts (depending on what it’s processing) with an average of 13 watts. Now compare that to an average NAS server. You’re talking 100 to 150 watts of power… and even that’s conservative.
All that being said, let’s set up our Boxee Box.
From the home screen, press the menu button on your remote. Highlight the settings icon as seen in the picture above and press enter on your remote.
Once you’re inside the Settings menu, navigate to the right over to the network sub menu.
From here check off “Enable Windows file sharing”. You can set up a password on the guest account if you wish. This will prevent others from accessing your files on your network. I also suggest giving your Boxee Box a static IP address so you’ll always be able to find it on your network. In the same menu, click Network in the left panel and then set Configure to Manually. Type in your IP settings and save it.
Now that your hard drive is set up on your Boxee Box, you’ll want to access it from your computer. In Windows 7, you can map a network drive by opening Computer and clicking Map network drive. Type in your Boxee Box’s IP address and the name of the folder on your external hard drive (i.e. \\192.168.0.5\seagate). If you’re using Mac OS X, you can follow these instructions to map the network drive.
I know this is a pretty simple tutorial, but it’s been so convenient for me I just had to share this tip to fellow Boxee users. If you have any other useful Boxee Box tips or tricks, be sure to post them or any questions you have in the comments below.