Earlier I wrote an article how to build a cheap XBMC media center with a XBOX1. But nowadays you want a high definition media center and XVID and DIVX isn’t acceptable anymore on your full HD television. So I read a lot of information how to make an nice media streamer like the popcorn hour, ac rayon and xstreamer but then highly customizable .
I choose for XBMC because it is highly customizable and there are tons of addons, plugins, script, skins, fanart, visualizations. XBMC is a media streamer so it’s recommended that all your downloaded music, photo’s, tv series and movies are on a NAS (network attached storage) device. If you want there are NZB and torrent plugins and you can download the software to the local disk but I don’t use any of these methods. XBMC is also in almost every language and the GUI for normal use is girlfriend, wife and kids friendly
Because the software is highly customizable and it’s always in development you get sometimes some unstable situations when you change some config settings. I can live with that but if you want a very stable product maybe you can better look further to an out-of-the-box product like the AC Ryan.
Also the software isn’t for noobs. If you don’t like to spent hours to tweaking the software how YOU want it please buy a product like the Popcorn Hour or AC Ryan that isn’t customizable.
But for normal use the software is stable and you will very often surprised by the tricks and the nice performance of the XBMC.
XBMC is open source and cross platform. There are official builds for OSX, Windows, Linux, iPAD, Apple TV and more ports still coming. The build I choose is OpenELEC. I choose for OpenELEC because that is an embedded linux distribution optimized for XBMC only. The software is compiled for all the common hardware platforms. The boot time is 30 seconds with SD (with SSD 5 sec) and the installation is very easy and I explain here how you can install the XBMC OpenELEC software.
The hardware I use is a Zotac ZBOX ID41, 2 GB RAM (Kingston ValueRAM KVR1333D3S9/2G) and a 4GB SD class 2 card. If you have an Android or Apple smartphone (or tablet) you can download the “XBMC remote” app for remote. So you don’t need to buy a remote. Total costs 200,- euro. That is very cheap for a full hd media center
What do you need to build this system:
- Zotac ZBOX
- 2 GB of RAM
- 4GB SD card
- Tabled or smartphone for remote (xbmc remote app installed)
- 256mb or higher USB stick for the installation
- OpenELEC ION x86_64 build (link)
- HDMI cable
- USB keyboard
- UTP Network cable and network connection (wireless also supported)