Create a Poor Man’s Apple TV
You wrote in and we listened. We’ve been receiving emails and comments over the last few days about better suggestions for our poor man’s Apple TV. Thanks everyone! This post is a summary of all of the emails.
XBMC was formerly known as the XBox Media Center. I guess the developers wised up and started moving the application to other platforms. Of all of the solutions, XBMC seems like the best (and prettiest) solution. Currently, XBMC is in a stable beta release.
If there’s one thing over the other options that XBMC has going for it, it’s definitely its looks. In fact, XBMC might even look better than the Apple TV. It can also support more formats and more sharing than you would find in an Apple TV.
XBMC can also quite easily connect to an iTunes music share elsewhere on your network. Definitely awesome. The reason why I like this so much is because it doesn’t require extra configuration on other computers or extra software to install (assuming of course you already have iTunes). XBMC also gives you the option to connect to FTP or Samba servers. Nice.
Apparently there is also a Web interface you can activate. This is definitely something nice. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it to work.
One of the biggest deal breakers we ran into with our setup we tried on the show was the lack of good caching in VLC. This lack of caching made it painful to listen to anything over the network. Thankfully, XBMC has several caching settings that can be tweaked and that (as alleged by one of our fan emails) work.
XBox 360 plus FUPPES
FUPPES stands for Free UPnP Entertainment Service. To me, that means nothing. So let’s break it down.
UPnP stands for the Universal Plug and Play protocols (thanks Wikipedia!). There are a host of devices and programs that support these protocols. One of these is the XBox 360. Connecting your XBox 360 to your FUPPES is going to require a bit more computer know-how. If you aren’t sure how to build your own software programs, I’d recommend XBMC.
This was the method that we tried on episode 2 of the podcast. I don’t think it’s really worth writing that much for VLC as a streaming service over WiFi due to its lack of decent caching. VLC is awesome–though–for a media player on your own computer.
So what do you think? Is there another method that you’ve used to put a junky computer to use? Let us know in some comments!