XBox Media Centre

Posted by : Unknown | Sunday, December 06, 2009 | Published in

I've been looking for some decent media centre software for a while. Most of the ones I've tried had some sort of killer flaw, whether it be a horribly complicated interface or a database backend that hogs far too much of the system resources.
A friend recommended that I have a look at XBox Media Centre (XBMC). I'd seen it before, a few years ago on a friends chipped XBox, but I hadn't realised that it had been ported to other platforms. It's available on Windows, Linux, and Mac, as well as the original XBox and has a good sized community behind it providing a wide range of skins, plugins, and scripts that add shinier interfaces and additional functionality. A couple of good plugins that I've found have been the YouTube and National Geographic add-ons that can be found on XBMCZone.

The program seems to run smoothly with few glitches in the interface. My only gripe is that the search that adds media to the library can be a bit finicky about odd file and folder names that contain characters such as square brackets.
The interface is very intuitive and has a range of different view options that provide a variety of levels of information. This information and the related images is automatically downloaded and applied to the media providing quite an attractive user environment.

I've been using XBMC for less than a day but thus far I'm much happier with it than other efforts. Best of all, it's open source and therefore free. Always a plus.

Lifehacker XBMC Set Top Box Build Guide

Edit: I've also found quite a cool free iPhone app called XBMControl that lets you use your phone as a remote for the media centre. It's a little buggy and I'll probably keep looking at alternatives as I know there are a fair few RC apps around.

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