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Adaptable.
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1,978 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys. Not active in the geek scene anymore, so figured I would share this here. The day before we found out we were expecting, I went out and splurged a bit on buying a BIG HDTV to replace a projector that had died. Since we DO NOT watch any TV, this was bought mostly for movies and my occasional video game.

So, the sister-in-law got a PS3 and gave me her hand-me-down xbox 360 to go with my old PS-2. What more do I need? Well, since I have over 300gb of music and videos on an external hard drive, I needed a way to play them... seamlessly.

Instead of dedicating a computer to streaming media to the TV, I set up XBox Media Console (XBMC) an open source media player system built on Ubuntu to a USB drive. By plugging all my peripherals into a USB2.0 hub, I can walk in, throw ANY of our laptops on the table and connect one USB cable, and a monitor cable to the computer and I'm set with wireless keyboard, mouse and remote.

XBMC boots fast, and once in can be navigated entirely by a media center remote control. Right now, I can control movies and music from anywhere in the front of our house with a remote, or pick up my wireless mouse and keyboard and use them from anywhere in our living room.

I hate wires, so I set everything up in one of the old enclosed end-tables. I used a 1.5" hole saw to cut a few holes in the side then used a sawzall and dremel to notch the bottom of the table. So now, all you see is a single bundle of cables running from the TV to the table in the corner. behind the couch are my IR and RF receivers (remote is IR, Keyboard and Mouse are RF). Opening the table's doors exposes our VCR, DVD, Xbox, and PS2, and a small remote AV switch hidden on the outside of the table lets you chose between them.

The setup is sick, seamless and smooth.

Now, XBMC also supports (kind of) the launching of linux based emulators, such as XNES, etc, allowing you to play old console games on your TV. I set up XNES this weekend to use my remote control keys for input, allowing me to play an akward game of Super Mario Brothers from the kitchen, and am presently researching python scripts to integrate my emulator collection into XBMC. I am trying to decide if the additional expense to buy an XBOX wireless reciever to add to the set up, or spend only $10 to buy a USB adapter for my Playstation 2 controllers. Regardless, I'm not spending any more money on it for a while, so I have some time to stew on it.

Those of you with alot of media on your computers might want to look into XBMC, it is amazing, and VERY easy to set up on a thumb drive using windows or linux. you can find it at www.xbmc.org

So, if you need something to keep you pregnant wife occupied, give it a try!
 

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I've been using XBMC for a couple years now and it truly rocks. I recently had to replace the computer as the old hardware was starting to flake. I picked up an Acer Revo at best buy and with the linux version of XBMC this bad boy can play 1080p videos with hardware acceleration.

For folks who aren't as technically inclined XBMC also has windows/mac ports.
 

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Adaptable.
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1,978 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I'm using an Acer aspire One, and it seems to be working fine at full resolution, but my OS sit on a USB pendrive, so I can almost get away with swapping from computer to computer. If my averatec tablet didn't have heat issues, I'd be using that, since I could set up a pretty cool remote for it.

And XBMC has ports for everything; Windows, Mac, XBox, Linux and Live(No operating system) I'm using live now, but am going to strip down a Ubuntu Karmic distro and run XBMC for linux on there for ease of configuring LIRC for full use of our remote control.

One bad thing about XBMC is that their forums and wiki are poorly organized, and if you don't have the patience, finding anything will drive you batty.
 

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Adaptable.
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1,978 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Okay, I've bailed on XBMC now that I have working internet and have switched to Boxee, which provides streaming content (the wife can watch lost now, and I get to listen to all those NPR shows we don't get here.) XBMC's scrapers, which determine what your media is, and downloads posters and IMDB info had SERIOUS problems cataloging my media files.
 
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