I normally keep fairly up to date with releases of Xbox Media Center (xbmc), but lately I haven’t been because I found a version (the build released on January 5th) that was stable, and did everything I wanted to. All I can say, is, DAMN! I downloaded the latest release as of 2 days ago (the May 9th release I believe).
First of all, they’ve gotten rid of the same skin they’ve been using as the default for a long time. It’s not that I wasn’t a fan of the old skin, but this new one is so much more polished.
Second of all, the smb streaming is absolutely perfect for me. However, that may be because of the new router that actually doesn’t reduce the speeds to the xbox to 1Mbps. I’ll talk about my new router a little later though, because I don’t want to give it intensely glowing reviews, and then have something stupid happen a day later 🙂
And finally, the greatest feature I think they ever could’ve added, is the addition of an http server. Now, you may be thinking, why the hell would they do that? Well, all I can say is, this http server allows you to control whatever xbmc is playing. Yes, that’s right, you could essentially hook up your xbox to a reciever, speakers, and a network connection. Granted, not all features are currently supported via the website, but you can easily add things to your queue, etc.
Now, the reason I think this is so damn cool, is that in my office, ever since we moved out the noisy rack, we contemplated getting some sort of jukebox setup that we could all connect to and add tracks to, etc. This way we don’t all have to wear headphones, or have 5 different songs playing in the background. A modded xbox is now a possible solution to our problem. We could all add whatever songs you want to listen to to the playlist. There are still a few things that would need to be tweaked (like deleting stuff that’s currently in the playlist, etc). This is the exact sort of solution that I was thinking about for the office. In fact, I had seen a similar thing at a party I had gone to a few years back at Presidential Towers. I can’t remember the name of the company that was having the party, but they do a lot of training, and web developement. Needless to say, they had a webapp that you could browse their music collection, and then add to the current playlist. It was one of the cooler ideas I’ve seen for a small business/office.
And now that xbox’s are $150, this means you can get a awesome little media center for around $200 (if you mod it yourself). To all those with xbox’s, I say go for it because it’s so easy, and you can get so much more out of your black and green box.