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Feature Friday: XBMC, easy as 1-2-3

For this week’s Feature Friday, we turn to AJ Perkins of the UK. AJ has a pretty awesome living room XBMC, easy as 1-2-3setup, but this week we’d like to take a break from just telling you about how awesome the various homes of users are. Instead, I’d like to ask you to bring a loved one over to the computer. That’s right, we’re going interactive!  This week, we’d like to take a minute or two to show the friends and family members of our XBMC users just how cool XBMC can be.

So XBMC user, please stand up, go grab somebody you like (and, more importantly, somebody who likes you enough to put up with reading the blog you follow religiously), and pull them over to the computer.  We’ll wait.

Hello wife, girlfriend, mother, father, partner, boyfriend, husband, or other statistically likely significant individual! The person who just dragged you over here would like to show you some things about his recent/long-standing obsession with XBMC. I promise to try make this as painless as possible, but can make no guarantees.

XBMC is software that lets people watch movies and tv shows, listen to music, and look at photos all from the comfort of their couch. This means you always get to watch the shows you want to watch. You get to listen to the music you want to listen to. And you get to force Uncle Phil to watch the picture slideshow of your first vacation and/or your baby’s first diaper changing.  So many beautiful memories!

Now, the first thing you need to make the XBMC magic happen is a nice, safe place to hold all of your precious memories (“Look Uncle Phil, this is when we got out the wipes!”), as well as your music and videos. Some people put these in the same machine that will be running XBMC itself. Our friend AJ, who has kindly agreed to make some handy videos, decided to take a different route. He put together a computer whose only job was to hold the important memories and media. This computer is called a “server.”  To make room for his server, AJ kicked Harry Potter out from the cupboard under the stairs.

Let’s let AJ explain.

For those of you who are tech-savvy, AJ’s server has a 2.2 Ghz dual core CPU, 4GB of RAM, and 2.5TB of hard drive space that is always backed up, and is running Windows 7 Professional. For those of you who are not tech-savvy, AJ’s server could hold 625 HD movies, over 3000 DVDs, or a really ridiculous amount of pictures and music.

So now AJ’s got his media squared away, but he’d be living a pretty crazy life if he watched all that media in the cupboard under the stairs. Naturally, he doesn’t, so we need to move on to the living room.

In the living room, AJ’s got a 42 inch Samsung TV and a Logitech Z-5500 speaker system both connected to his Home Theater Personal Computer or HTPC.  AJ, take it away:

Once again, for the tech savvy readers, AJ is running an Intel Core 2 Duo 3 Ghz CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive (it can be smaller, since his server is elsewhere), an ATI HD 4850 graphics card, and a Creative Fatal1ty dedicated sound card.  For the non-tech savvy, AJ has a really cool computer that will be running XBMC.

AJ has the storage for his pictures and media. He has the computer that will run the software. Now, he just needs the software.  AJ?

I believe that requires little explanation. As you can see, XBMC is a clean and simple program designed to get you to your media as quickly and as attractively as possible.  The only unfortunate fact is that XBMC does not, as yet, have a dedicated remote control, which means AJ had to explain how he navigated around using a keyboard, which is simply no fun for watching a movie.

Fortunately, there is another way! If you have an Android phone or iPhone, you can install remote control apps that will do an absolutely incredible job controlling XBMC. I do not have the words to describe how incredible the system is, so I’ll let AJ explain for me.

Just imagine the possibilities of controlling XBMC in that way. Are you playing music in the living room and cooking in the kitchen, but you don’t like the current song? No problem! Just pick a new one on your phone.  Are you trying to decide what to watch next, but don’t want to stop watching your current show? Yeah, the XBMC app can handle that too.

So there you are. A system for “cutting the cord,” as they say. All of your videos, your music, and your pictures, right in front of you, ready to play and be displayed at your command.

Hopefully now you’ll see just a little bit of the draw your husband/boyfriend/son/daughter/wife/partner/”good friend” finds in XBMC.

And if you still aren’t convinced, I’m afraid it’s your loss. All the really cool kids, like little Saffir below, think XBMC is fantastic.  Saffir? Let’s play this story closed!