If you feel like you’re constantly adding new channels, apps, and services to your iPhone, Roku, laptop, tablet, etc., then you’d probably be grateful for a service that would organize all of them into one easy-to-navigate package. And it’d be even better if that service was free and open-source.
Thankfully, it is and it’s is called XBMC.
What is XBMC?
XBMC may not provide music, movies, TV shows, and pictures on its own, but it’s the ideal system for gathering all of your media under one roof. XBMC is the premiere Open Source Home Theatre Software.
To put that plainly, XBMC is an excellent way to store, manage, share downloaded digital media files. Afraid this will be some new confusing way to manage your entertainment system? Think again. Not only is the XBMC system user-friendly, the site hosts an extensive forum and Wiki with the answers to almost any question you could have about the service. Worried about language support? XBMC includes full support for translations of over 60 different languages.
XBMC can run on Mac OS X, Windows, iOS, Linux, and Android. Supported devices for XBMC include the iPad, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Boxee Box, Raspberry Pi, and more. Not only can you organize all of your digital media in one easy-to-access helpful place, you can access all of it on the latest streaming media players.
XBMC can support just about all music formats (MP3, FLAC, WAV and WMA), import pictures from your library, and movies from your collection. XBMC can also be controlled with a remote. There are many devices that can be used as a remote control for XBMC, including the iPhone and Android. And again, XBMC is completely free and open source for your tweaking desires.
The open source ability of XBMC has opened the door for an entire community focused on making custom themes to best match the needs of individual users. The interfaces available for services such as YouTube, ESPN, and Pandora are much more user-friendly than the ones on stock AppleTV and similar products. Concerning YouTube specifically, the XBMC interface offers many search result options with accurate results, which is much better than the lackluster YouTube app available on many Smart TVs.
XBMC’s open source ability also results in the continual adding of updates to the software. What does this mean? XBMC will always be up to date, with continued support of all add-ons. No need to waste money on any other media organizing software, XBMC is a free and easy-to-access software that is constantly at the head of the game.
How To Use XBMC?
Installing XBMC is a simple process that can be viewed via the XBMC Quick Start Guide. Adding media to XBMC, whether it is video, audio, or images is as easy as adding source files to any other application, be it iTunes or Windows Media Player. However, once you have organized all of your entertainment media with XBMC, your files will be present in an easy access interface.
XBMC can also be utilized as both a Live TV and PVR/DVR device. Though setting up XBMC for these features is fairly complicated compared to the easy access nature of the software, the XBMC Wiki has a user friendly setup guide for using Live TV/PVR in XBMC.
Best DD-WRT & Tomato XBMC Routers
If you’re going to be doing some serious streaming and sharing within your wireless network, make sure you have the network centerpiece that can handle, manage and secure the load. Having a DD-WRT or Tomato FlashRouter might be just what the doctor ordered..
In that spirit, take a look at some of our top routers recommended for use with XBMC.
Best Streaming Video Router: Netgear R7000 Nighthawk DD-WRT FlashRouter
Simply put, this is our pride and joy. A Wireless-AC beast that boasts dual-band speeds of 1900 Mbps, 3 powerful external antennae, and a 1 GHz processor, the Netgear R7000 Nighthawk simply towers over its competitors. And that’s before we boost its functionality with DD-WRT firmware. If you’re interested in making flawed streaming a thing of the past, then the Nighthawk is the friend you need.
Best Wireless-AC Router Under $300: Asus RT-AC66U Dark Knight Tomato FlashRouter
Here’s another beauty that is certain to future-proof your network: the Asus RT-AC66U Dark Knight Tomato FlashRouter (router designers evidently enjoy invoking Batman during the process of naming their routers) combines killer speeds with gobs of processing power, all amplified by the enhancement of its alternative Tomato firmware. Switching from streaming movies to music to TV shows in XBMC will be a breeze with a Dark Knight on your side.