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Feature Friday: The Kitchen Hi-Fi

In this first edition of Feature Friday, we are going to forego the boring old bat cave and million dollar living room in favor of a wee bit of creativity. Brilliant user Oliver Owen, of the UK, has been using various versions of XBMC since 2003. He has had XBMC installed on at least one box in nearly every room in his flat.  Recently, he decided to add another room to the XBMC fold by building a custom touchscreen version of XBMC in his kitchen, primarily for music playback and easy access to the weather application.

XBMC Touch Screen

The XBMC Touchscreen… that ISN'T an iPad

XBMC on the iPad, of course, would not do, because Oli’s twin goals were minimal expenses and girlfriend approval.  As such, portability wasn’t a major concern, but cost was.

Cost is the biggest problem for nearly all modern tablets. They look nice. You can attach them to a refrigerator. You can create a kitchen stand out of chopsticks. You can even equip them with meat thermometers!

But you can’t get a tablet cheap. XBMC is free and can run on relatively simple minimal equipment. There’s really no reason to get fancy on the hardware, when XBMC can handle fancy all on its own. And that’s doubly true when you have no need or interest in playing HD content.

So Mr. Owen picked up an Acer Travelmate C110 off of ebay for 40 pounds sterling and a touchscreen kit for another £35.  If you’re counting at home, that’s £75, a savings of about £325 off the £399 price of the cheapest iPad.

He then convinced his friends Mr. Smith and Mr. Yates to cut a wooden box frame and a thin metal border, respectively.

Wooden Box for Computer

Step #1: Make wooden box

metal for bezel

Step #2: Cut thin metal border for bezel

Oli then slapped the kit together, and attached the entire setup to the Hi-Fi that was already installed in the kitchen.  For the touch-enabled skin, Oli downloaded the modifications found at this forum post, which appear to be user mods of PM3.HD, designed with touchscreens in mind. (Thanks LoloMc2 and our entire skinning/addon community for this skin and many other amazing addons!)

The converted HTPC had built-in Wi-Fi, so Oli simply browsed to the shared music folders on the two house laptops. The Weather application came set up out of the box, so that needed next to no attention. And with that, the installation was complete.

finished product

The Finished Product!

In the future, Oliver hopes to set up various podcast or radio features and possibly catch a few vids with the tvcatchup addon. For now, he just has to figure out how to convince the girlfriend to start using the new kitchen tablet.  We have faith in his persuasion skills!

So that’s the XBMC Kitchen Hi-Fi. Good job, Oli, and thanks for sharing!

If anyone has a setup they’d like to share in the future, feel free to email me at natethomas AT xbmc DOT org with some pics and details. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next Feature Friday.