HTPC Software - XBMC Media Player

February 15, 2014Posted by Kevin White

 

Today, more and more people are bringing some form of an HTPC into their living room. These devices bring you local or online content and can even function as a full TV and PVR combo. When you are looking for software, you want feature rich and customizable options. XBMC is your one stop shop for just about anything.

XBMC is an open source media player that does a lot more than just play media. You have multiple, fully customizable skins that can display your media in great fashion. Upload your movie folder from your network or local hard drive and let XBMC scan your folders for the movies. When XBMC scans the movies, it lists them and grabs all of their information. When you click into your Movies icon, you will notice all of your movies in alphabetical order and showing a vast amount of information. Length of time, cast and crew lists, and other information will be listed. This information can be customized when you dive deeper into XBMC.

Another great feature is the YouTube plugin for watching movie trailers. Watch a trailer or a few before you pick which movie wins the epic Movie Night Battle! You can mark which movies you have watch and re-list exluding those that are marked. You can change the format your movies are displayed and you will notice a wide variety to choose from.

XBMC is capable of playing almost all of the many formats and file extensions that exist. As long as you have the hardware, XBMC should be able to play it. Some of the file formats are .MKV, .WMV, .VOB, .MOV, .AVI, .MPEG2-4, .M2TS, and many more that are listed on their website. www.xbmc.org

When you go to their website, click the download tab. You will be taken to the page and shown the options of different operating system installs. Make sure you download the correct install that coordinates with your operating system. XBMC is a quick install and once you are finished you can open the program.

Changing the skin can be done in the system settings for appearance and you can also look for other plugins that might be available to you. When uploading the shared media folder for your movies or other media content, make sure you acknowledge what those files are. If they are movies, change the selection to movies so that it grabs the data without any issue.

Besides movies, if you have your favorite TV shows displayed as well. I suggest uploading each TV folder as it's own seperate so when XBMC scans the folders, it doesn't get confused by every other TV show. This may be timely, but will ensure that your TV shows and folders are setup right and work.

Although XBMC may look a bit intense when you first open it up, if you spend some time to get familiar with it, you will notice you can customize exactly how you want your media displayed. You can even play games, weather updates, and even watch TV.

Setting up the Live TV is a bit more complicated and I suggest you search around for the best solution. I use a different program to view my Live TV, but that doesn't mean XBMC can't. I use to have a WMCserver setup with a WMCServer plugin with XBMC and I was able to watch and record live tv.

Moving on from the glory of Movies and TV, XBMC features a music player as well as a picture viewer. The music player has multiple visualizations and I am sure you could find others to install as well. You can access folder and other menu options while music is playing and it won't stop until you play another file. The picture viewer works well, but never used it much.

My focus has been 1. Movies 2. TV 3. Music for my HTPC. The music is third because we watch a lot more movies and tv than we have people over for music.

I am currenty using XBMC on my Windows 7 and Windows 8 builds. The skin I chose is the Aeon Nox as it shows off media and posters and is very features rich. For skins that are catered to your device, check them out in the apearance option and click "look for more". There are some skins that are designed for tablets and other media players, and some meant for high quality high powered machines.

XBMC is is an open source program that has regular updates and a lot of talented people working on it. It has amazing integration and very detailed information for movie and TV content. When selecting a media player software, check out XBMC for every solution.

Let us know your thoughts on XBMC and what software you prefer!