XBMC, eXtensible Beatiful Media Center
I've been using an HTPC setup for quite some time now, nowadays my frontend of choice on there is XBMC. The wonderful thing about XBMC is that it's pretty easy to setup but still allows for serious tweakage if you dig into the inner workings of it all.
Being the first article of a series on XBMC, I will start of by showing you some of the plugins I use.
Coming from MediaPortal I was missing the tons of cool plugins that MP offers. The XBMC community at large mainly seems to focus on creating all kinds of video streaming plugins and though most of them are nice and do exactly what you'd expect, there's only so much video streaming you'll want to do.
I will dig into the plugins that the community offers and skip right over those video streaming once and get down to those that actually bring some cool functionality.
The Cinema Experience plugin should be a default one for every XBMC installation. The name of the plugin says it all, it tries to bring the nice experience you have in the cinema to your home theater set.
For example you can have XBMC play a couple of random (or not so random) trailers before you start watching a movie. Another cool trick is having it zip through a couple of movie slides/questions just before you pop the popcorn. You can tip it off with an intro of opening curtains or an old-school countdown movie.
These are just a number of things you can expect when using the wonderful Cinema Experience plugin.
Recently came across this Piratebay scraper plugin and found it a nice addition to my setup. The plugin will let you navigate the Piratebay's torrent index (by top 100's and categories) and when you found that download you're looking for it can dump that torrent somewhere on a drive.
Combined with using uTorrent and setting it up to look for new torrents being added to a folder you are able to start the downloads directly from the Piratebay plugin as it were.
There are uTorrent plugins out there that will let you administer the uTorrent client. With one of those setup as well you'll get a nice full-fledged torrenting experience.
Also pretty new out there in the XBMC plugin world is What the Movie. What the Movie is a game that tests your movie knowledge. It will show you stills of movies and it's up to you to answer with the correct title.
The stills used in What the Movie are provided by the community and therefore are ever changing, making the fun last.
XBMC has a nice built-in interface to expose its contents to third party plugins. AWX is a webinterface plugin that makes it possible to navigate through your XBMC library in a webinterface. It also allows for control of your XBMC box by selecting what to play.
AWX is the nicest looking webinterface for XBMC imo and the AJAX used in there really adds to the experience when browsing your library.
This is a must have addition for Android users with a XBMC box.
The header says it all; it makes it possible to control your XBMC box thru your android phone. It has a really slick feel to it and works just great, no more need for turning on your TV in order to select that nice song you want to play. Just grab your droid and on you go!
Might be a iOS flavour of this kind of app out there but I'm not sure since I'm a big droid user myself.
It even has WOL support so if your HTPC turns itself off after an amount of inactivity you can boot it right up from the XBMC remote app.