Friday, August 28, 2009

XBMC is the best media center application. Period.

XBMC Media Center, formerly called XBox Media Center, is a rock solid open source and cross-platform media center solution for Windows, Linux, Mac and the Xbox platform. XBMC’s typical media-center 10-foot user interface is aesthetically far more appealing than that of any other media center application I have seen and discussed in the past.

A lot of attention has been given on skins and icons making sure it’s one of the most beautiful things on display on your living room PC. But underneath the eye candies run a very stable and powerful software. In fact, many other open source media centers like Boxee, MediaPortal and Plex are based on XBMC Media Center’s code.

XBMC-media-center (1)

XBMC-media-center (2)

XBMC Media Center supports almost all common audio, video, and image formats. It supports playlists, audio visualizations, image slideshows, video subtitles, CD ripping, weather reports, Last.fm steaming and a lot more. Like many media center application, XBMC supports plug-ins that brings a variety of features and services to it. These plug-ins make available services such as television program guides, YouTube, Hulu, Veoh, Apple movie trailer, SHOUTcast streaming etc to XBMC.

XBMC is surprisingly light on system resources despite all the features and eye candy. When idle it uses an unbelievable low 50 MB. That drops even further to about 30 MB when you minimize the application (windowed mode). When playing DVD the memory usage surges moderately to around 100 MB. CPU utilization is never more than 5% even on my 3 year old Pentium D. If you looking for an extremely nimble yet powerful media center, this is it.

XBMC-media-center (3) XBMC-media-center (4)

Here are some major features of XBMC worth noting:

  • Play media from local hard drives, from optical disks, via network, or stream them over PVR and iTunes.
  • Automatically retrieve thumbnails and reviews on movies from IMDb.com, TV Show posters and episode plots, and audio album thumbnails.
  • Play videos from ISO and DVD-images directly from RAR and ZIP archives.
  • You can close a playing movie and when you return back it automatically remembers where you last left. You can also create bookmarks.
  • Powerful library management features. The video library allow organizing your movie collection by genre, title, year, actors, directors etc. Similarly, XBMC’s music library allows the organization of your music collection by title, artist, album, genre and popularity.
  • Large number of plug-ins are available. Apart from those mentioned earlier, there are plug-ins for Internet TV and radio streams, email clients, instant messaging, train-timetables, peer-to-peer file-sharing downloads, IRC etc.
  • Play casual games like Tetris, Snake, Space Invaders, Sudoku, and much more through plug-ins
  • Fully skinnable, and each skin can be customized to your liking.

The complete list of features is available here.

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