Guide: Getting Started With XBMC

by Damian on September 7, 2010 · 49 comments

in Guides

One of the most popular front ends for Home Theater PCs is XBMC. It is a light-weight application that has a huge user base and community. Adding to its popularity XBMC can be installed on practically every platform (OSX, Linux, Windows, AppleTV, and Live via USB Flash Drive). XBMC has set the standard for how a UI should look and act, and many of the skins have influenced the look of other Media Center front ends. With the release of the next XBMC beta codename Dharma I thought this would be a good opportunity to take a closer look at XBMC and walk through the basics of setting up.

I am going to set up XBMC on my Windows 7 x32 machine using the latest Dharma build.

TIP: If you are interested in bitstreaming HD Audio you are going to either want to use the DSPlayer build I wrote about or use the latest Dharma build but have MPC HC launch. Also, if you are a Windows Media Center user you can easily add XBMC as a menu item to launch directly from WMC.

Files To Download:

XBMC Dharma Beta1

Installation:

Really not much to it, simply run the downloaded file and go through the typical setup steps. You can choose to customize the install process, but I just left all the defaults checked off.

Once the installation is complete you can now launch XBMC and will be presented with the default Skin called Confluence.


Setting Up Your Media Libraries:

My current video library is set up based on folder structures. For example:

  • Movies – Videos Shared Folder -> Movies -> Individual folder for each movie. The movie folder and the actual movie file name should be named exactly as the movie itself (I use IMDB or TMDB as reference)
  • TV Shows – Videos Shared Folder -> TV Shows -> Individual folder for each TV show -> Individual Season folder for each season. The TV show folder should be named exactly as the TV show itself (I use TVDB as a reference). Each episode is placed ion the respective season folder and is named ShowName – S##E## – EpisodeName (i.e. Supernatural – S01E01 – Pilot.mkv)

It is not absolutely necessary to sort your video library as above, but I have found this yields the best and most consistent results across a variety of platforms.One thing for certain, make sure your Movies and TV Shows are in separate folders.

XBMC has its own built in scraper that will gather all metadata/fanart. However, you can use a 3rd party metadata program such as Ember Media Manager to collect and maintain your metadata/fanart locally. XBMC will first search to see if local metadata/fanart is available to use, and if not then it will fall back on its internal scraper.

With XBMC select Videos on the main menu. This should take you to a menu where you want to choose “Add source”

A popup should appear, choose “Browse” and navigate to the folder where your media is located. You can set up multiple sources, and if you have both TV shows and Movies you will need to set up a separate source for each.

After your media location has been added the next step is to click the “Set content” button. This is where you tell XBMC what type of content the Video source is as well as to set up scraping

After selecting “Set content” you will now be able to select what type of content and then choose a scraper

Below are the settings I chose for my Movies, using The MovieDB as scraper (there are additional scrapers which can be added via the Add-ons)

Below are the settings I chose for my TV shows, using The TVDB as scraper (there are additional scrapers which can be added via the Add-ons)

Depending on the size of your library when you first set up the content it may take a while as XBMC builds the library database as well as scrapes (if applicable)

Once done setting up your Videos library the same can be done for Music and Pictures from the Main Menu (obviously the “Set content” function will not apply).

If you content was set up properly when you go back to the Main Menu and tab across the “Videos” menu item you should now see a “Movies” and “TV shows” line item.

You may notice however that when you go into your Movies or TV Shows it has more of a Windows Explorer type feel, where you are actually browsing files. This is obviously not ideal, so you will need to make sure that Library Mode is enabled. While in the videos section using the left arrow key should bring up a menu screen as seen below. There will be an option for Library Mode that can be enabled. Once enabled, when you select a movie poster in any of the views the movie will automatically play without having to actually navigate to the file.

Now what happens if XBMC scrapes incorrectly, or you decide you want to use different fanart? To edit simply navigate to the video in question, right-click which should bring up a menu

Select “Movie information” from the menu. To re-scrape the movie click the “Refresh” button which should bring up a list of possible matches (you can also enter the name in manually). You can also use the “Get thumb” and “Get Fanart” to replace the current artwork with local content.

Settings:

There are way too many settings to try and cover them all here, so I thought I would just point out a handful of them that were useful

Settings -> Appearance -> Skin / This is where you can switch to different skins


Settings -> System -> Video Output / Here you can specify the display mode and resolution to be used.

Settings -> System -> Audio Output / Here you can specify your speaker/receiver setup

Settings -> Video -> Playback / There is where you would enable hardware acceleration (DXVA2)

Setting -> Video -> Library / Here you can specify to have XBMC automatically update the library on startup

Settings -> Network -> Services / This will come in handy when setting up an iPxxx/Android as a remote to control XBMC

Settings -> Weather / Here you can customize up to three locations where XBMC will display the weather statistics.

Video Playback:

There were a few features I wanted to test out as far as playback:

  • BluRay Folder Structure – I had to navigate to the “index.bdmv” file, but once selected the main movie played (no BD menus)
  • mkv w/ PGS subtitles – played, although the subtitles would remain on the screen even after the scene ended (bug)
  • DXVA w/ ATI 4670 GPU – for both VC-1 and H.264 CPU remained around 5% indicating that DXVA was working properly
  • DXVA w/ core i5 GPU – for both VC-1 and H.264 CPU was around 30% with spikes above indicating that DXVA does not work properly with intel graphics.
  • DVD ISOs – XBMC mounted properly and played back with full menu support
  • BluRay ISOs – Did not play

A few other quick items to point out, during playback the controls are located at the top of the screen

From here you can navigate to some of the audio and video settings

Add-ons:

This was originally called I believe the SVN repository, Add-ons serve as a place where developers can make their plug-ins available to the community. Examples of Add-ons would be skins, online services, metadata providers, etc… The Add-on concept has really taken off amongst the community, and this is the area which I believe offers the most growth and excitement. XBMC has a decent selection of add-ons, and this is something that hopefully will continue to grow (additions such as Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, etc…).

To view and install add-ins go  to Settings ->Add-ons. From here you can view what Add-ons you have enabled, go to the repository to get available Add-ons, and install an Add-on from a zip file. Select “Get Add-ons”.

At this point you should have only one option and that is to go to the Add-ons available at XBMC.org. I am not quite sure what the purpose of this is expect that possibly down the road Add-ons could be hosted at multiple locations.

Here you will have a list of categories to choose from. The easiest way to get familiar with what is available is just to simply go through each category.

The first add-on I was in search for was Apple Trailers. To find this I clicked on the “Video Add-ons” category which brought up a list of available add-ons.

Installing an Add-on is very easy to do, simply select the Add-on which will provide information about the Add-on, as well as the ability to install, enable, configure, update, and view any change logs.

A list of the current skins available from the Add-on section.

Where you access the Add-on depends on what type of Add-on it is. For example, if you install a skin, you would go into the settings -> appearance to change. If you install a Video add-on such as Apple Trailers you would go to the Video menu choice on the Main Menu. You can also customize the Main Menu to have specific Add-ons listed on your home page.

Various Screenshots:

Skin: Confluence

View: Poster Wrap

Skin: Confluence

View: Media Info 2

Skin: Confluence

View: Thumbnail

Skin: Confluence

View: Music

Skin: Confluence

View: Pictures

Skin: Night

View:LandPanel

Skin: Night

View:Episode

Skin: Alaska Revisited Mod

View:Panel

Skin: Alaska Revisted Mod

View: Main Menu


Final Thoughts:

XBMC makes a great addition to any HTPC and I highly recommend everyone at least try it out. XBMC does not have PVR functionality (although I have heard that is in the works, possibly piggybacking off MediaPortal’s TV server) so for people who use their HTPCs as PVRs this is probably not the front end for you.





Article by

Hi, my name is Damian, and I'm tech gadget addict! Although I always had some interest in technology, it wasn't until I got my EX470 and more importantly found Mediasmartserver.net, that my interest became an addiction. My goal, aside from world domination and to see the Mets/Broncos win another championship, is to set up the perfect digital home where all my media is available at the click of a button. When I am not writing for Mediasmartserver.net you can find me over at my blog at http://www.adigitalhomeblog.com or follow me on twitter


{ 49 comments }

TP September 7, 2010 at 6:03 am

I found your website somehow through google reader. Alot of the stuff you have setup, i have done too. Keep up the good work, it makes for an excellent read.

Cheers.

Damian September 7, 2010 at 10:34 am

Thanks for the comments and glad you have enjoyed the stuff I have written. I try to keep it fresh enough and cover as many different topics as possible since I know everyone has different needs/interests.

bry1128 September 7, 2010 at 9:08 am

Do you know of a way to automate the renaming process for TV shows? I have a ton of shows in the series/season format, but the individual show names vary. I’ll have to check out the Beta of XBMC!

Damian September 7, 2010 at 9:15 am

TVRename is a great tool:

http://www.tvrename.com/

Steve Goff September 7, 2010 at 10:16 am

Hi Damian,
Another nice guide. You might want to try the Aeon65 skin, which is too big to include in the XBMC addons but can be downloaded using GIT. It is very close to the Aeon of old. The latest build can be found in the forum thread, which you can find using Google. I wish that the Showmix skin was available for Dharma, but it lloks like it has now dead ended.
Steve

Damian September 7, 2010 at 10:28 am

Hi Steve,

I was wondering what happened to Aeon since I know that is such a popular skin. Thanks for the heads up

Damian September 8, 2010 at 5:39 am

In the process of downloading Aeon65 using GIT, will let you know how it goes.

Steve Goff September 13, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Unfortunately, Some of the movie views using the latest Aeon65 have scrambled text with multiple overlays in the same place.

Damian September 13, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Have you tried the showmix skin, I just installed it yesterday

Brajesh September 7, 2010 at 10:24 am

Talk about nice, clean UI and jukebox! Are there any pre-built PC’s I can buy off dell.com, hp.com or anywhere online that can do HD audio and 23.976 correctly? I don’t have the knack nor time unfortunately to build PC’s. Also, other than software and configurations you’ve written about above, is it necessary to install Haali and ffdshow for MKV playback? Thanks.

Damian September 7, 2010 at 10:32 am

There are many prebuilt machines. For example, I just went to the HP website and built a quad core slimline PC with 5450 GPU for $499. The 5450 GPU would give you the 23.976 and HD Audio.

As far as mkv playback, it depends. XBMC has its own decoders/filters that it uses so there is zero additional that you need to install. However, if for example you want HD Audio the internal XBMC player does not support it, so you will need to have either MPC HC launch from XBMC or use the XBMC DSPlayer build.

Brajesh September 7, 2010 at 11:05 am

Thanks Damian. Lots of options now compared to just earlier this year. Hard to decide: stick with Dune D1 or SageTV HD300 as mostly standalone solutions, or get a HTPC that does what those do plus Netflix, Hulu and any online streams. Though with HTPC, it won’t be WAF-friendly. Not that my wife gets my home theater anyway.

Damian September 7, 2010 at 11:14 am

Yeah, I think that is the same issue everyone is dealing with. I will say that an HTPC can be WAF as long as you are smart how you go about it (i.e. don’t use it as a testing ground for every piece of software that comes out).The only issue my wife runs in to every once in a while with our HTPCs is they don’t come out of sleep, so you have to manually press the power button.

Brajesh September 7, 2010 at 11:19 am

I’d have wife support if I didn’t keep changing media players and set-up on her ;). But, can’t help myself; gotta keep trying out interesting toys :). Damian, you mentioned 5450 GPU and I also saw 4670 in your review. Is there a list somewhere of GPU’s I should consider for correct HD audio and 23.976 support? Also, are i3, i5 or i7 all fine as CPU’s? Thanks.

Damian September 7, 2010 at 11:25 am

@ Brajesh,

Haha, I hear ya. Unfortunately I have used my wife as part of the testing ground but she has been patient :-)

For HD Audio, you can get it from a core i3/i5, ATI 5xxx GPU, or the new NVidia 460 GPU (I think that is the one). To my knowledge the core i3/i5 is the only one that doesn’t support 23.976 currently. I am a fan of the core i3/i5/i7 CPUs, and you can still use one of these CPUs alongside a separate GPU (such as the 5450). In my house I have a core i5 HTPC (no discrete GPU, I don’t do the whole 23.976 right now so no issue there) and a 5670 GPU HTPC. Both handle HD audio without a problem

GreenEyez September 7, 2010 at 12:42 pm

great write-up dbone, but you might want to add the difference between file mode and library mode (and how to activate library mode), some people get confused and don`t know why their library acts like an explorer browser instead of a movie/music etc. library.

Damian September 7, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Thanks for reminding me, I will update the guide either later tonight or tomorrow, it should be easy to do.

Steve Goff September 7, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Yes, library mode versus file mode can be baffling to a new user, as can the requirement that you set content after you’ve selected the folder where the content resides.

Damian September 7, 2010 at 5:06 pm

I also want to test out the collect3 App for my iPod to see how well it controls XBMC, and will post back

Steve Goff September 7, 2010 at 9:26 pm

The Control3 app works fairly well, and let’s you both remotely control xbmc and see and select your media collection on the phone.

Damian September 8, 2010 at 5:29 am

Guide updated to reflect enabling Library mode. Thanks for pointing this out Greeneyez

Tom Abell September 9, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Hey Damian,

Thanks for the write up, I think one of our guys is doing a write up of alternatives to to WHS / Media Player and pretty sure XBMC will be included. You’ve done a great job on this article! With your permission, I think I’ll link to it tomorrow night. Cool?

Tom

Damian September 10, 2010 at 9:44 am

Hi Tim,

Yes, please feel free to link back to this article if you find it useful.

Keith September 10, 2010 at 9:40 am

Damian does XBMC have a built in DVD player or BD player? Meaning if I build a SFF machine with a slot loading drive, could I still put my Netflix disks in and watch them?

Damian September 10, 2010 at 9:45 am

Keith,

XBMC has a built in DVD player but not a BR player. YOu can have TMT3 or PDVD launch from XBMC whenever you play a BluRay. XBMC will also play BR folder rips, but only the main movie and you will have to navigate through the folder structure.

Nick September 11, 2010 at 9:30 am

XBMC rocks! Thanks for the right up Damian. I have been running XBMC since it was on the XBox only… and now I am waiting patiently for the port to Popcorn Hour to be complete (fingers crossed something shakes loose soon, its been about 4 months since an update on that front). Once that port is done, I really think the NMT world will be able to explode! Right now, I am running XMBC Dharma on my mac and Win7… The team also recently released an Android App that is absolutely fantastic! Complete control, movies list, now playing, perfect remote control, browse by type, category, actor, etc… I can’t put my phone down long enough to enjoy my movies/TV!!!

Only complaint, is the way it handles meta-data vice other programs/players and the fact that there is no “back-end” that can be edited via another computer to edit movies… Oh, and no live TV support similar to Media-Center…otherwise, the program is great!!

Great write-up as always!

Damian September 13, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Funny you mention the XBMC port, I was thinking about it earlier and wondering if it really was a hoax. I see no reason with the developer would do that since he had a great reputation with Aeon, etc.. on the nmt threads. Something about the whole thing though just didn’t add up.

Great to hear you got the Android App running, I h ave been meaning to test out the iPhone app (Collect3) but just ran short on time.

What do you mean no back end, are you talking about 3rd party metadata programs? If so there are several (including Ember Media Manager, MIP, etc…).

I am curious to see where they go with LiveTV support, it was announced a while ago about adding support for Media Portals TV Server but haven’t heard anything since.

JR September 18, 2010 at 5:52 pm

i am curious about the frame rate you are talking about the 23.967, what is that and is there any way to increase it.
Great write up i am using dharma beta 2 now was released on the 15th.
i am still new to the whole encode and decode thing so i am still learning.
i do have a ? i am using dvdfab to do all my dvds, i am putting them in an mkv container at 264, and a am just doing the audio copy. what would you recommend for blurays, i was thinking the same thing, just with a higher bitrate for video, for dvds i am using 4000 with a 2 pass encode and it seems to be pretty good.
sorry for the long post.

Damian September 18, 2010 at 6:06 pm

23.976 is the framerate of BluRays. I think DVDs are 29.970 fps. You can increase/decrease the framerate all you want, but this may lead to undesirable effects (a/v sync issues, etc…)

You can do the same method that you mention for BluRays. However, keep in mind that BluRays will take much longer then a DVD. For example, a 2pass BluRay encode on my Quad core pc would take around 12-14 hours. Another option instead of locking in the bitrate would be to do a Constant Quality encode (one pass). This is what I use if I do any sort of encoding. However, for the most part I don’t encode Blurays but instead keep them at 1:1. Let me know if you have any other questions and I would be glad to help. Here are my various writeups on mkvs:

http://www.mediasmartserver.net/tag/mkv/

JR September 18, 2010 at 6:32 pm

thanks for the reply, i would love to do a 1 pass but at 4000 with a dvd it looks like crap compared to a 4000 2 pass, for me it takes about an hour to an hour and a half to do a reg dvd this way. Just curious but what does your bluray size run on the 1-1

Damian September 19, 2010 at 5:35 am

A BluRay 1-1 comes out anywhere from 15GB – 35GB (just the main movie). With 1-pass you cannot lock in a bitrate. I find that instead of locking in the bitrate a better option is to use Constant Quality and let x264 do its job best. Setting CQ=18 I found gives the best results. I would take one of the dvds you have already done, redo it using CQ=18, and compare the results.

I have some BluRay tv show box sets that I am encoding, and I use CQ=18

gizmo September 25, 2010 at 11:06 am

Hi,

Thanks for the guide.. I have windows xp based computer and have also recently purchased acryan playon!HD player (73100P+).

I would like to know if I can use XBMC for wirelessly streaming contents on my TV using playonHD player.

Will appreciate your help in this regard.

Thanks

Damian September 25, 2010 at 11:29 am

Hello. XBMC cannot be run on the PlayOn!HD. You would simply share your media from your XP computer to your Playon!HD

gizmo September 25, 2010 at 11:42 am

Wow Damian, that was fast…

Well it is unfortunate that this great piece of software does not work with acryan playon. Is there any good alternative to XBMC for acryan player?

I am novice, so could you please guide me as to how share media from your XP computer to your Playon!HD.

For watching online contents on TV via playonhd, I have also got a new wifi connection.

But I am unable to activate it on the player. Following is what I have done:

1 ) I went into setup>network
2) Selected wireless Lan setup >connection1
3) Infrastructure>Auto
4) Selected my wireless connection and input the WAP key.

Playon did some testing and again moved back to the network menu. Against wireless LAN setup, it is mentioned ‘ On: DHCP not Ready!’

When I am going to online radio feeds, it say, ‘failed to download station’. Also I am unable to open in video feeds.

Please suggest what can be done….(seller has given me the xtreamer 11N wifi dongle, which he said is compatible with Playon players)

I also tried to manually configure the IP address, DNS and gateway. (now against wireless LAN setup, it shows ‘ON: ‘Ip address’ . ( one thing I noted is that in manual setup, though IP address and gateway remain the same, but when I go and re-check the settings, DNS changes to default!)

But When I go to radio feeds, it says ‘Downloading Stations’ and after few seconds display message ‘Download fails’

Similarly, I am unable to open NEWS rss feeds, weather etc.

Thanks in advance…

Damian September 26, 2010 at 11:49 am

With the PlayON you can use a movie jukebox called YAMJ to get a better looking UI for your movies. I see you posted on AVSForum regarding your other issues. I don’t have a PlayOn and haven’t used XP in a long time, so hopefully someone over there can help you get everything set up.

JClamster October 8, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Damian, I need your help…I followed your XBMC guide and MPC HC guide and ran into some issues.

First, background: I have an HTPC running WIN 7 pro 32bit, Radeon HD 4850 graphics card, Xonar HDAV 1.3 Slim audio card. I rip my BluRays as iso with AnyDVD HD, scrape with MyMovies, playback with Windows MCE and Arcsoft TMT3 Platinum. I get 1080i video (to my legacy HDTV) and full bitstream HD audio to my Onkyo AVR for processing. Full remote control via iPad running iRule. Everything worked great.

But…frankly MCE is very boring and I was interested in the beautiful skins and other capabilities of XBMC and so I jumped at the chance to try it out when I found your guide.

Per the guide I installed XBMC Dharma, dwnloaded and installed MPC HC and the DirectX End-User Installer. I did the Playercorefactory.xml method and followed the other guidelines.

I ran XBMC and it came up with no issues, made changes to setup as instructed. Installed and ran MakeMKV on one of my Bluray isos, filed it as instructed, found it via XBMC and tried to play it. I got audio )DIRECT) but not Dolby Digital or True HD, and most imprtantly I got no video. I was able to change tracks and pause play, but again, no video.

So I then closed XBMC out, brought up MCE, selected the same Bluray to play and also got no video. I was able to select TrueHD which worked fine.

Tried a number of XBMC, Radeon card, TMT3, Xonar and windows settings to no avail. So I gave up and did a windows restore to a few days before I made all the changes. I ran my old system and guess what? Still no video running MCE/TMT3.

I’m at a loss for what to do next. Any ideas? Could it be the Directx installer? ugh….

Damian October 8, 2010 at 2:04 pm

So MPC HC launches from XBMC to play your mkv but you are not getting bitstreaming, correct? Did you set up ffdshow audio to be used as your external filter in MPC HC? The issue you are having is not XBMC related but MPC HC related. Also, as far as no video, are you trying to play the mkv through TMT?

JClamster October 8, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Yes, MPC HC launches fine from XBMC, opens the mkv file I select under videos/movies, I get audio but not bitstream and no video.

I don’t recall seeing any reference to ffdshow as an external filter in either the XBMC of MPC HC guides, did I miss it? Point me in the right direction and I’ll try again, but first lets fix the no video on my restored system. That shouldn’t be related to MPC HC. The only thing I can think of is the change to Directx, but that should have been rolled back when I did the restore.

No i’m not trying to play mkv with TMT. Trying to get back to the old method of playing iso with TMT.

Damian October 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm

See here regarding setting up MPC HC, without ffdshow you will not be able to bitstream (http://www.mediasmartserver.net/2010/02/02/guide-setting-up-bitstreaming-with-your-windows-7-htpc-part-i/). The one thing I don’t know if if it works with the Xonar card, but hopefully it will.

As far as no video I am not sure what the problem is, you are getting no Video in TMT, any other programs? I have the latest DirectX installed on my HTPC along with TMT3 and my BluRay rips played fine.

HerbHHH October 17, 2010 at 9:44 pm

As always, really a great write-up. I am coming to XBMC from a PCH C-200, which I am just about to give up on. XBMC looks so good, and your guide(s) have made it very easy to set up. So thanks.

I have an idea for another article: How to set up the calibration for all of this. For me (and I expect for many others) there are so many places where I could do calibration — Radeon 5670, XBMC itself, TMT, Onkyo 876 receiver or Panasonic projector. Which unit should do the de-interlacing? the upconversion? the color correction? the noise processing? It’s fairly complicated, but I think you’re just the man to straighten this out. Thanks again.

Damian October 18, 2010 at 9:16 am

That is one thing I haven’t spent too much time one, but is on my list. I just did a quick adjustment to my TV (based on recommended settings other users were using on AVSForum) and have done a few tweaks on my HTPCs. As I dig more in to it I will definitely consider documenting the process.

NY2LA October 22, 2010 at 4:43 am

Damian, will you please tell me whether I’ll be able to easily play my raw DV stream (.dv) files with XBMC? I just want to be able to point to folders with DV files, and play them in succession. I don’t want to have to compress the DV files to H.264, put them in a .mov or .avi wrapper, or anything like that. They only need to look as good as when I play them in a non linear editing program, and send video out, through a camcorder, digital to analog, into my Samsung 720p HDTV. I don’t have the netbook yet onto which I will install XBMC, but will be getting one.

remy January 6, 2011 at 4:15 am

@JClamster

How did you get Irule to work with XBMC? I’m trying at the moment but can’t get it to work. Can you give me some advice?

Stiwi March 19, 2011 at 8:57 am

Thanks Damian for great tutorial with plenty of pictures.
I just gave XBMC a try today after using WMC7 + MB for over one year.

I was blown away and now wonder why I didn’t try it before. I am using a low end HTPC Intel Atom 1.6GHz dual core with Nvidia ION on board and 4GB RAM. MB was painfully slow in navigating and MPC-HC as external player despite played it role very well, it lacked the seamless integration with MB. XBMC speed is amazing compared to MB.

With XBMC I don’t see any reason to use MPC-HC so far. DXVA GPU acceleration can be turned on in XBMC settings. Subtitles are handled very well for mkvs. Even to my surprise HD bit-streaming works as I can see it on my receiver (you just need to enable DTS in settings). Internal player offers seamless integration, fast forward, rewind, subtitle edit (to synchronize it) and probably much more which I didn’t discover yet.

Also to my surprise, the MCE remote that came with my HTPC, worked with most basic functions in XBMC straight away. There are just few keys that need to be set (I used Intelliremote for this).

I read before that setting XBMC is a hassle compared to MB, but I can’t agree on this. Setting was very straight forward and you can add sources / paths as easy as in MB.

Cons so far:
- default skin (but I didn’t like the default MB skin either)
- only 1 backdrop? Doesn’t seem to be possible to rotate all backdrops despite having them fetched in the folder (by MMC).

Any others cons?

Damian March 19, 2011 at 11:05 am

Yeah, XBMC is a solid program. One thing, you actually don’t get HD Audio currently, just the core audio (which is DTS). Full HD Audio is DTS(MA) and TrueHD. That is probably the biggest reason why I still use Media Browser + MPC HC, to get full bitstreaming of HD Audio. The XBMC developers are working on a new audio engine though that will allow for full HD Audio bitstreaming in the future.

As far as a remote the basics do work for an MCE remote. You can see more detail on settings here (http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?t=38585)

Just like Media Browser you have a large variety of skins that you can use with XBMC. What I like about XBMC is that the internal player can handle just about anything without the need for messing with codecs (which is obviously a negative with WMC).

I am not sure about the backdrops, I thought you could rotate in XBMC but I could be wrong. Media Browser has been frustrating me of late as far as stability, and XBMC us definitely faster in navigating through the library.

I am waiting for full HD Audio support to finally be added to XBMC and then I will seriously consider switching from Media Browser.

If you have an Android or iPxxx there are a variety of Remote Control apps as well.

FYI, down the road if you decide to replace your Atom/Ion HTPC I would look at the new AMD FUsion platform. It is the equivalent of the Atom/Ion but has better graphics and supports full HD Audio bitstreaming

Stiwi March 19, 2011 at 11:39 am

Thanks for the MCE links.
If you rip your Blu-rays with anything more than DTS (so higher than 1.5 Mbps I believe) then you are right. Or maybe XBMC can even play Blu-rays which I didn’t think of as I can’t even go anything above DTS due to hardware limitation.

I currently have the Asrock Ion330 HTPC. Their new release is called 3d with Intel core i3 cpu which can decode DTS-HD. Looks very powerful.

I am not sure if I would notice any difference between DTS and DTS-HD on my Yamaha YSP-2200…

Damian March 19, 2011 at 1:01 pm

XBMC now can play back BluRay folder rips (only main movie though). Once the new audio engine is brought in you will then get the full HD Audio as well. You definitely would be able to bitstream HD Audio with your setup an the Ion GPU does not support.

The i3 Asrock HTPC will bitstream HD Audio as the intel GPU is capable of (I have a core i5 HTPC that does this without issue).

As far as whether you can tell the difference, it is always up to debate. it is usually based on your setup, your ears, etc…

Stiwi March 25, 2011 at 3:20 pm

“I am not sure about the backdrops, I thought you could rotate in XBMC but I could be wrong. Media Browser has been frustrating me of late as far as stability, and XBMC us definitely faster in navigating through the library.”

I was searching for the answer and apparently it is not possible to rotate the backdrops. Only one is being utilized by XBMC:
http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?t=97311

This certainly might be a flaw for fan arts lovers.
Also the backdrop.jpg and mymovies.xml data used by MB cannot be used in XBMC, which is looking for fanart.jpg and movie.nfo.

Nick March 22, 2011 at 7:11 pm

XBMC Fans – I hate to use this as a forum thread… but has anyone figured out how to make XBMC “pull in” or scrape the same meta-data and pictures as “My Movies?”

I have the My Movies scraper, all of my movies are updated with the My movies manager, including NFO files for XBMC… but no matter what I do, I end up with different fan art and different box covers… driving me insane!

I started a thread on this topic here if anyone has an answer: http://www.mediasmartserver.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=10485

Comments are closed, visit the forums to continue the discussion.

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