Thursday, July 7, 2011
XBMC4XBOX: The Best Media Center
For years now, I've been using XBMC on my Xbox (original, not 360) to listen to music in my living room. I also use it to watch standard definition videos, stream web-based video, and occasionally to look at picture slide shows, not to mention play thousands of emulated video games from over a dozen old-school consoles and arcade titles. I'd say that my Xbox has gotten more use than any other device in my living room.
XBMC over the years has been great, but not without its quirks. Certain things became either wonky or outright broken over time. Playing videos, watching movie trailers, random play for music, all needed work after a while. A few years ago, the developers of XBMC, citing the Xbox's obsolesence, and a need to focus on development for Windows, Mac and Linux platforms, ceased Xbox development. A few Xbox diehard developers decided to carry the torch under the moniker XBMC4XBOX. Up until recently, there hadn't been any major releases of the software. May 2011 brought XBMC4XBOX v3.0.1 stable. Hooray! Utilizing Confluence, the beautiful default skin for the other XBMC platforms, a modern build of XBMC is now optimized for the Xbox hardware, with added features and bugfixes.
Having used it since its release, I can easily say that this is the definitive release of XBMC for the Xbox. It's flawless. The software looks gorgeous. I customized it with black backrounds, giving it a sharp, clean, easy-on-the-eyes look, which I love. All of my former gripes have been addressed. "Party Mode", a.k.a. random, actually plays random tracks from my music library every time, not just one of five or six "random" playlists. Apple Movie Trailers works wonderfully. All of my downloaded video files play flawlessly, regardless of file type. All of the Internet-based TV "channels" of streaming video that I'm interested in, like Revision3, have built-in support.
If you're looking for a way to watch videos and listen to music in your living room/bedroom/game room, especially if you're into retro gaming, then do yourself a favor and pick up and old Xbox from a garage sale or eBay, look up how to "softmod" it (Hint: it's not tough. Youtube is your friend.), and install XBMC4XBOX 3.0.1. You can get a remote for it for cheap as well if you don't like using a controller. I prefer a remote myself, especially since I use a universal remote. It's cheap, does 720p HD over component, supports digital audio, is networkable, runs video game emulators, and it does everything more expensive set-top boxes do and more, except HD video. If you can live without that, get an Xbox. You'll be glad you did.
Posted by Johnny Modder at Thursday, July 07, 2011