Enriching Your Multimedia Experience With XBMC


Are you wondering how long you should wait before you buy a Media Center PC? Or you're just dreaming to have your current computer transformed into a device that exactly resembles the one which docking at your friends' living room running that pricey Windows Media Center without spending any money? Behold, here arrives XBMC Media Center, a free and complete media center software for all OS.

XBMC stands for “Xbox Media Center“. This is a free and open source multimedia-player and entertainment hub software for all your digital media. You might be wondering “ok, this is supposed to run on PC right? (Well it better should, it appear in this articles for PC anyway). But why is it named after Microsoft gaming console?” Well here is the short story before we move on to our coverage of this free standout multimedia center.

XBMC Media Center was started out as a homebrew media-player software for original Xbox back in 2002 (previously named as XBMP-Xbox Media Player). As a homebrew, application that is typically created as a hobby by small group of individuals (that is where ‘homebrew’ comes from) and distributed freely, XBMC has been a successful substitution for original Microsoft Xbox dashboard (official Xbox GUI) that is also functioning as media player but with limited features. After four years in development, XBMC celebrated point 2.0 release which marked another milestone due to more crazy features that are packed into the program such as RAR and ZIP archive support, iTunes 6.x DAAP support, and UPnP Clients for streaming. These features seem like a superfluously too much if we consider that this is a multimedia player for a game console, a closed architecture system.

Now due to its popularity, XBMC has journeyed a long way to PC, the home of the Titans of multimedia center products that flood the market. How does it fare with the more “serious” commercial products? In our opinion it does very, very well. Here we reveal what XBMC can transform your computer into.

1. User-Friendly Media Center  
XBMC is easy to install, setup, personalize, and use. Despite its simplistic, its user interface is beautiful not only in still but also in motion. You can see the slide from one media window to another giving a smooth transition and image changing effect.

You can also choose from three available themes to better suite your taste (available more to download). Simplistic but beautiful, surely this combination makes underpowered computer seems to have a place in the world of multimedia center. So what are you waiting for? Take your old system that is hiding a long time to make an appearance in your living room. But make sure you have a decent graphic card.

2. Full Multimedia Experience

XBMC supports a wide array of audio, video, and picture file formats and codecs from virtually any source including USB flash drive, CD, DVD, and even network and online sources. This wide support means that you can assure yourself that this application will eat easily any media you throw at it. Have a DVD movie image under ISO/IMF file format, just browse it and XBMC will play it with no difficulty.

For playback, XBMC offer playlist playback, spectacular audio visualization, and picture slideshow. Specialized for music, you can expect features like gaples, ReplayGain, cross fading, pre-amplification playback option, smart playlists, and chapter support. And when opening pictures, features like panning/zooming and slideshow (with “Ken Burns Effect“) are available. Comic Book lover also don’t hesitate the ability of XBMC to handles CBZ and CBR comic book archive files. Including in this feature are view/read, browse, and zoom of your comic book pictures without ever need uncompressing them first. For those Internet freaks, Xbox Media Center can download and stream Internet video and audio, play Podcasts and SHOUTcast, and last but not least discover and stream new music through Last.fm, among others.

 3. Powerful Media Management
For a true multimedia lover with piles of collection of media, a decent management system is truly needed. Fortunately, XBMC is equipped with the same quality of multimedia organizer that is offered by commercial products.

For your video content, you can easily browse it according to genre, title, year, actors/artist, and so on. In music division, similarly, XBMC’s can read the information stored in the ID file meta tags, like title, artist, album, genre, and popularity while still allowing you to search under its Smart Playlists feature. When taking the benefit of your broadband internet connection, XBMC can automatically download artworks, fan art, reviews on movies, or episodes information for TV shows.

At the beginning of this article we mentioned that XBMC is developed under open-source application label. Maybe you think “yes sure, it stands out at this very moment, but what about next year and so on? That will differentiate it with the commercial product with strong financial support.” But talking about longevity, maybe you forgot that we also mentioned that XBMC has started its appearance way back in 2002 and since then it has been developed significantly. The fact that it has been brought to desktop computer under multiple OS is a proven longevity.

But to make sure you can sleep at night, we reveal that over 50 contributor developers are at works on XBMC, over 100 translators from various countries have expand its language capabilities. From the community standpoint, XBMC have over 30,000 registered members. Moreover from add-ons standpoint, XBMC uses two add-on engines. The first is the one that has been took from the original Xbox version (Phyton). And the second is WindowXML application framework, the same one that has brought you widget in your Windows Vista sidebar. With these two options, we will see many other add-ons appearing on the application. So we guarantee it will hang with us much longer than you could ever think.

You can download XBMC at xbmc.org








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