My favourite media center software is XBMC – Xbox Media Center. It runs on my original XBOX, which I picked up used for $80 two and a half years ago. It connects to my router, and can therefore access whatever I share to the network on any computer in the house. It then obviously connects to my TV and stereo, and I’m looking at buying the XBOX remote, which will cut down on cords stretching across the rec room.
This is a great setup for watching nearly anything. Anything you can find online (legally, of course), can be played through this setup… except HD content. And, unfortunately, HD content is becoming the new standard in the media world. The poor lil XBOX just can’t handle that much information.
So, what is a person to do? You could buy an AppleTV, but you still don’t get true HD output, and it’s not so useful in Canada since we can’t buy or rent movies and the TV selection is quite limited right now. There are a few other hardware options, but none really stand out to me, especially when you consider the extremely low cost of my current setup.
Now there’s a new solution. XBMC has been ported (converted) to run on OSX. Therefore, it can run on any Macintosh computer. This means, if one were inclined, you can buy a Mac Mini, install XBMC, and have a wicked media center, with true 1080p HD, and an internal hard drive that’s much bigger than the Xbox’s. Cool. If my XBOX dies, this is what I will do.