At this stage, I have not quite decided which system I will stick to in the long term, so there is a kind of competition between them. Covering everything from hardware and extra storage to useful add-ons and online play, I’ll pick exactly the device that I think will have the best chance of playing it all.
So how do you build a computer with a media center that can play anything? A device that can deliver as much good quality and free TV as possible?
Well, you need to make sure you have the right hardware, the right storage options, and the best media center platform before you make it stand out with plugins and extras that will give you the TV experience you’ve been looking for.
The hardware side of things
For my own purposes, I need an optical drive device as I watch DVDs regularly. USB ports and a card reader are also required to view photos, music and videos.
Whatever hardware solution you choose, don’t forget the remote control! This can be a game controller, keyboard and mouse, or a smartphone with the appropriate remote app.
Choosing the right platform
There are many media center platforms for Windows, Mac, and Linux, but XBMC is currently the most popular. Originally released for the old Xbox gaming console, XBMC is available for all major desktop computer platforms and is capable of playing the vast majority of media formats.
Its user interface is simple, offering sections for music, videos, and images (as well as updated weather reports!) and complemented by a large selection of add-ons that provide new features and online channels to subscribe to. is free.
Extending your platform with add-ons
The beauty of XBMC (versions for Windows, OS X, Linux, Apple TV, iOS, Ubuntu, Android, and Raspberry Pi are available from the XBMC download page) is that it can be greatly expanded with a large selection of official and unofficial add-ons. There are many uses for these add-ons, from streaming TV and managing torrent downloads to gaming and creating user interfaces.