Xbox Media Center – XBMC Review

XBox Media Center – XBMC Review

When it comes to food, technology, basically anything, I like to sample a little bit of everything. So for my home entertainment setup, I have been evaluating all types of Home Theater PC media center options that will bring all my media into the living room. Recently we talked about PLEX, now let’s give some attention to Xbox Media Center also being called XBMC nowadays.

XBMC or Xbox media center is an open source application created for use on a hacked first generation Xbox.  Once the Xbox started to age an initiative started to grow for XBMC to be developed into a computer application. It has turned into a successful HTPC app that can play almost any codec.

Appearance

The default skin for it isn’t very eye appealing; however there are two beautiful skins (Aeon and MediaStream) available that make it a great option for the living room. There are plenty of skins and new ones are constantly being added. All the skins get downloaded directly through Xbox media center, so you don’t need to search the web.

The Basics

Like most other media centers, XBMC supports

  • Videos
  • Movies
  • TV Shows
  • Music
  • Pictures
  • Programs
  • Weather

TV shows are a little misleading, since it doesn’t really have DVR functionality. They are actually shows that already exist on your computer. So technically Videos, Movies and TV Shows are the same thing however it’s nice that they are separated out.

I’m very impressed with the customizability of XBMC; since its open source, its being actively worked on constantly, especially in the skins department and you can change backgrounds, fan art, menu items etc. to make it look and function exactly as you would like it.

It’s also important to note that Xbox media center runs on Linux, Mac, Windows and Apple TV. No matter what platform you use there’s a version of XBMC for you.

Music, Videos, Movies, TV Shows

Xbox Media Center has two main views for you to get at your content. The Files view is generally used to manage and add content, while the Library view is for everyday use of browsing and playing your content.

Movies

Music

Add-ons

Xbox media center has a feature that provides you with a weather forecast. Goodbye Weather Channel. Additionally, you have a whole community working on other plugins for the application. These add-ons are usually created to gather video/audio streams from the web. Examples are webcasts, podcasts, radio, and even TV channels. To learn more about addons, take a look at our comprehensive list that covers some great XBMC Plugins and XBMC Addons.

Support

If you experience any problems with XBMC; reach out to the community. They have a great forum on the Xbox Media Center website.

Note on Stability

Xbox media center is extremely stable; of course you might experience a bug here and there. To this point, I haven’t experienced any crashes or movie restarts when using XBMC. Give it a try. You will not be disappointed.

Pros

  • When skinned can look very aesthetically pleasing. To me it’s the best looking media center application available
  • Very Customizable
  • Open source and actively being developed
  • Apple TV 2G Version developed

Cons

  • Takes a while to setup the way you want it

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