Open source software for developers who create home theaters
XBMC is a popular open-source multimedia center and is Windows compatible. The home entertainment software package is also available for other platforms, including Android tablets and Linux systems. Free to use, this powerful media-oriented application is designed to stream online content. It will playback locally stored digital media as well, so an internet connection is required, as well as hard drive space for storing these local media files.
When it comes to media playback, such as movies, TV shows, and music, this software is the best. In fact, this celebrated media package features what's called a scraper module, which is an extra applet that downloads media-relevant metadata and artwork. Once a movie or TV show has been "scraped", all background posters, cast information, synopsis texts, and DVD covers are incorporated into an attractive menu. This visually appealing data is rendered on what's called the "skin," which is actually a highly customizable graphical user interface (GUI). Again, personalization is underscored by software designers, and numerous skins are available for download.
This fun software application also comes preloaded with a menu entry that targets live television viewers. However, extra hardware in the form of a TV Tuner is needed to make this feature work properly. The Live TV section adds the kind of functionality a user would find in a modern cable TV box, so DVR operability and EPG modules (Electronic Program Guides) are on hand for the dedicated channel hopper. Incidentally, the Simple IPTV Client is also accessed under the Live TV download section, but this program does not require hardware for tunes streaming online channels. It composes these items into a format that has the look and feel of a regular TV guide.
The open-source design is what really imbues XBMC with media-biased aptitude. Hundreds of additional streaming channels are available for download from numerous repositories, which may actually be the name for groups of program resources. These repositories have been created by the XBMC community, so they're continually refined and updated. They include programs and skins, streaming channels, enhanced video modules, and many extras that enhance the media player. The official repository is automatically configured when the software is installed, but others are easy to find. All that's needed to discover these supplementary repositories is an internet browser and access to one of the XBMC community links, message boards, or forums.
- Compatible with any type of media file, including MKV, MP4, MP3, FLAC, and more
- The free media center is incredibly popular and well-supported by a large community
- The program streams music and video from countless online sources
- Highly customizable
- Automatically downloads metadata and additional media artwork
- DVR and Live TV functionality
- Repositories include a large library of add-ons
- Personalization feature sometimes requires above average computer knowledge
- A fairly powerful CPU is required for advanced skins
- Questionable Repositories contain potentially illegal links