Xbox mediacentre pulls it together

xbmc media center logo

I've just installed Xbox Media Centre version RC 1 on my own xbox. Came with the project mayhem skin built in so that wasnt the hassle it usually was, however there was a newer version on the mayhem site with some bug fixes so I uploaded that to the xbox instead. Seemed pretty much the same.

I was interested to read that xbox mediaplayer is now considered a dead project with the release of xbox mediacentre 1.0. Theres a really nice comparision of media player vs media centre. There are some interesting comparisons. I now know why shoutcast doesnt work recently, it doesnt support .sc files. Seems its been depreached in favour of pls files. Internet Radio (SHOUTcast MP3) support (native or streaming via RelaX) – Only supports PLS playlists. while xbmp Support both SC and PLS playlists.
So i've had to now go through most of my sc files and change them all to pls files, which isnt a easy batch job. Theres also no audio filters on xbmc which they say isnt needed anymore. kind of agree but it would be nice for the user to decide. The one I miss alot is the xmltv tv guide which was a pain because you needed to do it from your pc but it was there and working in xbmp. My weather isnt bad though and if the tv guide is as polished as the weather, were in for a treat.
Other things I miss from xbmp include. Xbox front LED Control, Busy Indicator, Video bookmarking via OSD (so can resume a movie later, even after reboot), M3U video playlists from DVD-ROM, HDD, SMB, XBMSP or XNS (inc. create/save) and FFWD/RWD and PAUSE in AVI/OGM/MKV/MPEG/MPG media.
The chart says xbmc doesnt support Quicktime 6 files, but I dont have a problem playing them, specially if there using the simple mpeg4 codec.

Anyway some interesting things I discovered while I was installing and researching. I finally got the FTP feature working but I cant work out how to change the password so it defaults. Which is a pain but I'm still considering using xbmc as my dashboard because evox is never really used too much. Plus xbmc has file explorer and a program launcher to go with the ftp server. But honestly I do think I will wait till version 1.0 before I do it. The other launchers seem really good but I use mediacentre all the time now. Why press a button each time it starts up?

Xbox connect, xlink, xbox link whatever you call it is something I havent got into too much, I know its a rival to the xboxlive service without all the hooha of monthly payment and centralised servers. But now the great creators of xbmc have bundled in a KAI client for connecting to your friends to play games. Think of it as instant messager and you got a rough idea. I prefer the term uber tunnelling for the masses..
Anyway I signed up for a xtag – cubicgarden.
The whole thing is unsupported at the moment, so I dont expect much at this moment. But would be nice to get a game of tony hawks underground and try it out anyway.

One of the other things I spent time on while working away on xbmc was the alternative ways of streaming. The problem I have is my windows 2000 server doesnt seem to share to the xbox at all. I only got it working once along time ago with xbmp. So I tried xbmsp and xns using ccxstream and relax-xstream. None of them worked. Relax came close but wouldnt share the media beyond the folders. ccxstream didnt show anything even though the test util said it was working. I may try again, but I would rather keep my network with two sharing protocals – webdav and samba. Specially now xbmc prefers smb to xns.

Can someone tell me what on earth NuppelVideo and PVA containers are? I've never heard of them. Nice to see xbmc supports Nero digital's mpeg4 files which claim to be mpeg4 simple advanced. I will give it a try later on as I've converted the brass eye mockmentary series to mpeg4.
I'm really hoping that someone will bring out a pvr which is in the same vain as the ReplayTV 4000 and 5000 series. There is a hacked Tivo which runs ccxstream but I dont know if that is possible with the freeview pvr's? Microdvd support is nice too.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.