I have been a long and faithful Windows Media Center user for years. The big reason I always chose to go with Windows Media Center was that it provided a better experience than cable boxes for recording and watching television shows. I’ve always loved how easy Windows Media Center is to set up on one central PC, and then extend it to any room using an Xbox 360. It’s a rather seamless experience, but the downside is the lack of configuration and extensibility.
Now that I’ve gotten to the cable-cutting point I started looking to see if there was a solution that would fit my needs better, and that’s when I decided to go with the newly released XBMC 11. To get this effectively working in a multi-room setup that meant I’d need to build an affordable home theater PC (HTPC) for each room that I wanted to be able to stream or access my content, or I could just try to get my hands on an older Apple TV 2 which could be jailbroken and set up to run XBMC. While the Apple TV was a tempting route I still felt as though it didn’t offer the full customizability that I wanted.
So here I sit, fully converted to an XBMC household. I have documented various aspects of my journey and will be sharing them here on the site starting tomorrow. We have about a month worth of guides that range from building an HTPC all the way to troubleshooting issues you might have with your own setup. In the guides we make the assumption that you know your way around the computer, which means we won’t dive into some details, such as how to open the Windows Registry Editor, and will instead just tell you the changes that need to be made. If you’ve managed to build up interest in XBMC I’m sure you are just looking for guides that point you in the right direction rather than hold your hand the whole way, and that’s why we are taking this approach with our guides.
The one thing that might hold a lot of you back is the lack of full DVR/PVR functionality in XBMC. The good news is that while the current version doesn’t natively include these features the next milestone (version 12) is due out in November of this year with a lot of PVR features included out-of-the-box. So you will only need to hold out a little longer if that’s the key item that has kept you away from the software.
At the end of each guide we will include an updated list of all previous guides for quick reference. It will look something like this:
CyberNet’s XBMC Guides:
- XBMC: Introduction to Our Upcoming Guides
Our introduction provides some of the deciding factors for switching from Windows Media Center to XBMC.
- XBMC: Build Your Own HTPC
Our extensive guide on the hardware we chose for our home theater PCs (HTPCs), the cost, and some tips on choosing the hardware for your own HTPC.
- XBMC: Prepare and Optimize Windows 7
A helpful list of tips to optimize the performance of Windows 7 so that the system is able to offer as many resources to XBMC as it can.
- XBMC: IR Receiver and Remote (Harmony, Xbox 360, and More)
If you want your HTPC to operate like a set-top box you’ll definitely want to get a remote control configured, and for me this was a critical step so that I wouldn’t have to be concerned about less tech-savvy users trying to use my TV.
- XBMC: Share and Sync Media/Settings Between Multiple XBMC Installs
Configuring XBMC to share settings between multiple instances means you’ll be able to stop a show in one room, and seamlessly pick up where you left off in another room.
- XBMC: Fit the Picture to Your TV with Overscan
If XBMC doesn’t fit your TV screen perfectly there are a couple of steps you can take to get it just right.
- XBMC: Installing Skins
How to tweak the appearance of XBMC so that it looks the way you want it to.
- XBMC: Custom Home Screen Menu Backgrounds
Make the backgrounds of your chosen skin/theme a little more interesting by having it flip through artwork from your favorite TV shows and movies.
- XBMC: Dynamic Weather Backgrounds
If you’re using the Aeon MQ 3 theme you can have it use dynamic wallpapers that change based on the time of day and current weather conditions.
- XBMC: SMB on Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)
I use a Mac to serve up files to my XBMC instances running on Windows, and so my preferred protocol for sharing files is SMB. This guide explains how you can get a XBMC-compatible version of SMB running on Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.
- XBMC: Adding Media Sources
Learn how to add your media to XBMC and turn on the appropriate content scrapers.
- XBMC: Troubleshoot Buffering Issues
Trying to troubleshoot buffer issues in XBMC can be quite a pain, and so I lay out some of the most common culprits.
- XBMC: Test Your HTPC with High Bitrate Sample Videos
Want to see how well your HTPC performs? Throw some of these high bitrate 1080p sample videos at it.
- XBMC: More Advanced Settings
Configure some of the settings that you won’t find anywhere in the GUI.
- XBMC: Stream Hulu, Food Network, and More
Thanks to add-ons you can stream videos from some of your favorite sources including Hulu, Food Network, HGTV, TWiT, and more.
- XBMC: AirPlay on Windows
Send videos from your iOS device to any XBMC instance with very little configuration.
- XBMC: Web Interface and Chrome Extension
As long as you are on the same network as your XBMC box you can control it from any browser using the built-in web interface, or you can install a Chrome extension to make it even easier.
- XBMC: iPhone and iPad Remote
If you own an iPhone or iPad you can enjoy one of the best XBMC remote control experiences I’ve seen, and it will only cost you a few bucks.
- XBMC: A List of Our Guides, Plus Helpful Wiki and Forum Posts
A recap of all the guides we’ve written as well as useful wiki and forum post from the official XBMC.org site.
- XBMC: Free and Official iOS Remote for XBMC Released
This is the free and official XBMC remote control iOS app (optimized for both the iPhone and iPad). It will let you easily control all of the XBMC instances in your house as long as they are all on the same network.
- XBMC: Running XBMC on Startup in Windows 8
Learn how you can make XBMC start automatically when Windows 8 boots.
- XBMC: Send YouTube Videos From Chrome to XBMC
Send YouTube videos from your PC to any XBMC instance in a single click.
- XBMC: Aeon MQ 4 Skin
If you’re looking for one of the best and most popular XBMC skins the Aeon MQ 4 is a great choice.
- XBMC: Android Widget Remote Control
Control multiple instances of XBMC without ever having to open an app on your Android device!