"A media center application."
At first glance, XBMC Media Center could be mistaken for just another media player, but its functionality and incorporated features allow it to be much more than that. In fact, the XBMC can be regarded as a standalone entertainment hub for a wide variety of multimedia files and it constitutes the ideal addition to an Home theater PC (HTPC).
Moreover, it can be operated via remote control, therefore, users do not even need to go near the computer in order to change the video, track or settings. Free to use, the program is the result of the joint efforts of over fifty developers and at least one hundred translators who are constantly working on improving and upgrading the product.
As mentioned, XBMC Media Center is freeware but the GNU regulations still apply and you will need to agree with the terms before installing the program. Adding the Skins and Languages packs is not mandatory, but if you do not have the 2008 Redistributable version of the Visual C++, then do not uncheck the box or the program will not run. Once the installation of XBMC Media Center is over, you can run the program directly or visit the website for more information.
Although not the simplest interface that you can find, the XBMC Media Center is definitely impressive. The program operates in full screen mode and the side bar buttons (Weather, Pictures, Music, Videos, Programs and System) represent the main categories. On a side note, the Weather is actually an integrated weather forecasting application. Clicking on either of the categories will allow you to search the drive for the specific files (audio, video, programs) in order to render them via the program. On the lower left section of the screen, there are three buttons that allow you to play a file, open up the playlist or access the shut down/suspend/reboot/exit features.
Primarily, XBMC Media Center has the advantage of working like a specialized media playing utility and it is compatible with the vast majority of file formats. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg; because it was created with network playback capabilities, you can also utilize the program for streaming media files over virtually all protocols and on any device in your home.
At the same time, the application can play videos directly from the internet. If you also take into account that it can render the content or archives (RAR, ZIP, etc.) and it can perform scans of the available drives automatically in order to generate libraries that can be customized with box covers or descriptions, then you will soon realize that XBMC is an invaluable tool.
The full array of the player’s functions takes a bit of getting used to but it is actually not really a con since it points to the wide range of functions available.
Packing an impressive list of features, highly customizable and best of all free, XBMC Media Center constitutes an excellent means of controlling your HTPC and getting the full potential out of it without even having to get off the couch.
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