If you’re still using your Xbox 360 to watch video content, it might be time to choose the right media center solution. Do you really want to burn your console long before the red rings or the yellow light of death signal the end of your favorite toy?
While there are many expensive ready-made solutions, there are several ways to create a streaming entertainment box in your living room on the cheap. With a few open source media programs available, a few budget products, and a bit of free time, you can pick out the perfect media companion in a couple of hours.
In this article, we will look at three possible solutions that you may not have considered, as well as the software you will need for each of them.
The potential of the Raspberry Pi as a media center promises to say the least. The $25 small computer uses an ARM-based system-on-a-chip (SoC) architecture, which means it works well with software and Linux distributions written for the ARM architecture. Of course, you don’t need to understand it to use it, especially now that XBMC has its own raspberry flavored project.
Known as Raspbmc, the release uses the excellent XBMC open source media center to watch 1080p video, giving you a barebones entertainment system for the price of a new BluRay version. You can even stream AirPlay content directly from your Apple device once you enable the setting. It takes some time spent setting it up, but that’s part of the fun when it comes to RasPi.
Things you will need:
- raspberry pi
- SD card
- Raspbmc [ FAQ ]
- HDMI cable (cheap ones work fine)
- USB keyboard/mouse for configuration
- Ethernet cable / Wi-Fi dongle for networking (optional but recommended)
- USB hub for adding additional sources directly (optional)
- Some time to set it up with Windows or OS X/Linux
- Remote control like this one for iOS or this one for Android
The Apple TV may seem like the perfect out-of-the-box device for your home theater needs, but in reality, you’ll probably want to get as much out of a jailbreak-pint-sized powerhouse as possible. There is currently no jailbreak for what many call the Apple TV 3, a revised black box version that came out in March 2012. If you decide to buy a new one, you will have to wait before you can install additional software on it, so for now you can buy a cheap used box on eBay.