XBMC on AppleTV - First Impressions

Mar 09 2009

One of the benefits of the installation of BoxeeTV on an AppleTV, is that XBMC (Xbox Media Center) HTPC Software is basically already installed onto your AppleTV. Remember that BoxeeTV is based on XBMC's code, so it makes the install that much easier. If you are only interested in installing XMBC, there are a number of writeups like this . I have been using BoxeeTV for a few weeks now, and I think it's only fair to give XBMC on the AppleTV a try to see how it compares to its sibling.

XBMC has been around since the original Xbox days, and what initially began as software exclusively for modded Xboxes to have a HTPC frontend (in the pre-Xbox360 days) has since expanded to a multitude of platforms and branched development items such as BoxeeTV and MediaPortal. XBMC is fully open source, which has clearly been embraced among the community while still maintaining to develop on their own.




At first glance, XBMC is a much simpler/traditional home theater interface, in what we have come to expect. The graphical interface is where the app really shines--the default skins are rather boring, but as you can see from their gallery , it's not that difficult to really deliver a wow effect. In addition to having full screen skins, the theme can also change based on the section or content you are going to be viewing. This is definitely the most impressive part of XBMC and really delivers the "wow" effect, as shown from the following Movies screenshot:




Setup was not as simple as BoxeeTV, and they share the AppleTV-annoyance of having to use the on-screen keyboard to type any username and password (fortunately, I have a short one for my WHS box). The interface for configuration felt much more geared towards a techy user than Boxee was, but it only took a bit to get adjusted.

Configuration aside, XBMC stands much closer in parallel to Vista Media Center and similar traditional HTPC-software types than BoxeeTV. As far as I can tell so far, XBMC primarly is focused on bringing your local content and files to the interface. It did not take long to really miss (and appreciate) all the various online offerings and portals which BoxeeTV brings to the same platform.

Maybe I'll be persuaded after doing some more investigating, but thus far BoxeeTV is the clear winner for the AppleTV platform of choice.

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