While searching for the ultimate FREE home media center application, I came across XBMC (Xbox Media Center). XBMC was originally created for the first-generation Xbox game console, but it is now available for Linux, Mac OS X (Leopard, Tiger, and Apple TV), Windows (Vista, XP). There is even a live CD version called XBMC Live.
XBMC plays most video formats, and I find it the ultimate player for playing HD movies. For additional features and recommended hardware, please refer to the official XBMC site.
I currently have XBMC installed on my Windows Vista Ultimate (x64), and it is running absolutely flawlessly. My windows machine is connected to my Mitsubishi HC1600 HD DLP Projector, and oh boy…do I have a movie theater in my living room?
After appreciating this set-up for a few weeks, I decided to create a similar one for my bedroom (less the projector), and this time I wanted to use my Mac Book. Fortunately XBMC has a build for Mac OS X, but for a greater positive surprise, I found that there is a XBMC port specifically designed for OS X: Plex. Plex works absolutely amazing and it utilizes both cores of the Mac Book, which is crucial for watching HD Movies.
Now that I have a fully functioning home media center in my living room and bedroom, I couldn’t wish for anything else but a remote that will control them all.
Being an iPhone addict, I searched for XBMC on App Store and was pleasantly surprised. There is an application called XBMC Remote that allows you to control XBMC (or Plex) through your WiFi. That was exactly what I was hoping for and installed the software immediately. XBMC Remote costs $2.99, but is worth every penny. In addition, there is an application called xbmcontrol which is free, but XBMC Remote works better for me.
Setting up XBMC to work with your XBMC Remote is very easy and it takes about a minute:
1. Open XBMC (or Plex) and Navigate to Settings. Write down or remember the IP address.
2. Enter settings and scroll down to Servers
3. Highlight (arrow right) Enable Web Server and enable it (hit Enter). Port 80 is preselected and you may leave it as is unless you have a web server on the same subnet accepting connections on port 80. Adding a password is optional.
4. Go to App Store on your iPhone and search for xbmc remote. Install the application and open it.
5. You’ll have to first configure it, by adding a XBMC Host. Select Add Host
6. Enter a title of your choice. Enter the same port number you used on your XBMC or just leave it 80 if you didn’t change it. For Host/IP enter the IP address of your XBMC (the one you remembered from step 1).
Select Done and you are all set. Tap on your newly created host, select more and tap on Remote. Now you have a fully functional remote control for your XBMC or Plex. The remote could be used with Buttons or Gestures.