Four simple letters are all you need to know: XBMC!
In short, XBMC is free software that can run on multiple systems (Windows, Apple TV, Linux, etc) that will allow you to stream content from the internet or your home share folders. GameRoomSolutions adds XBMC to most of our projects because it is great wow feature that you can integrate easily with most software applications.
Let’s start by simply setting it up on your computer so you can get familar. I will show you here how to set it up, change the look or “skin”, and stream content from the web and local folders.
Once you feel comfortable then go onto the making an appliance section and we will get XBMC connected up to your TV’s much like a cable box.
Install XBMC on your computer
Streaming Movies and Tv Shows from the web
Next lets add some content to stream, by adding a “video addon”. We will add a couple of repositories that contain addons. This means the video addons will auto update when the programmers release new versions. In the past, it was a pain to search for, download, transfer, and install repositories/addons. The guys at XBMCHUB have made this process about as painless as possible using their fusion plugin.
Here are the next steps to get this thing working.
So now we have Movies and TV…
Streaming Music Videos from the web
Now that we have music videos from the web.
Change the look or “skin” and customizing XBMC
Let’s change from the standard look called Confluence to a more refined Aeon Nox skin. From there we can do some customization.
Quality vs Maintenance
NOTE: Streaming music and music videos through XBMC is great! For the most part TV Shows and/or Movies are not the quality you would want to fully enjoy your home media center setup. If you care about features such as 1080p and/or true surround sound then you would want to access your local content. This will also allow XBMC to “scrape” your library which means pull in artwork, actor information, trailers, etc as it imports those files.
The give and take is the following
Streaming Movies/TV from the web = Extremely Low Maintenance, not a lot of meta data (descriptions, pictures, etc), and medium quality (typically just stereo sound)
Playing Movies/TV from your local libraries – Medium Maintenance, tons of meta data, and quality as good as your system can handle (1080p, 5.1-7.1 DTS, on and on).
Locally stored content
At this point, you might want to reference the “Organizing Media” section to be familiar with how to organize your local media. It also features a tutorial on how to use Ember Media Manger to pull in artwork, actor information, etc.
Here we will add some local movie content. XBMC will add all the artwork, metadata, trailers, etc as it imports the folder.
And now for a TV Show
And then Music
If you want to use the touchscreen interface shown in the jukebox setup section then you have to manually download the re.touched skin and install it manually. Get the re.touched zip file, do not unzip it, and place it somewhere on your computer where it is easy to get to.
Here is a run through on the install and implementation. Make sure you have a touchscreen or mouse connected before switching to the new skin.