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XBMC and Boxee








XBMC

It is almost 2 years since I hacked an old XBox to install XBMC the killer media center, at least at that time. With just a 133 mHz Pentium III and 64MB of RAM, the XBox could run an impressive array of games.

Open source XBMC took the XBox to a whole new level. It turned the XBox into a complete media center and gave it the ability to stream audio and video running on a file server anywhere in one's house into a television connected to the Xbox.

The plugins produced by a dedicated hacker community enabled one to stream video and audio available across the computer directly into the television. The arrival of XBMC accentuated proliferation of the television and the home computer.

XBMC has since grown out of the XBox and has become a killer media center for the PC, the MAC and Linux systems. There is even a 'live' version of XMBC that enables one to use a cheap computer like the Acer Aspire Revo as a dedicated XBMC box. Please visit xmbc.org to download a free version for your specific system.

Over the last year, website www.Lifehacker.com has featured numerous articles on XBMC.

Boxee

XBMC had and continues to have many offsprings. The most popular and impressive among these is undoubtedly Boxee. One website referred to Boxee as XBMX on steroids. Available at Boxee.tv, Boxee is another killer mediacenter available for PC,MAC and Linux. The alpha version of Boxee has a look and feel far more impressive than XBMC. Boxee is also a trifle more user friendly in giving the user the ability to add plugins, special add ons enabling the user access to numerous sources of media on the internet.
In addition to providing content from websites of popular TV stations like CBS and CNN, Boxee has plugins enabling one access to education and edutainment channels like OpenCourseware from universities, TED talks and Flora TV.
The arrival of Hulu, the second most popular website for streaming video brought with it the hope of getting quick access to popular TV shows and videos. Hulu's failed love affair with Boxee has been noteworthy and covered extensively on Lifehacker and Gizmodo.

The internet geeks have been critical of Hulu for bowing down to the demands of Media companies and not allowing its content to be made easily available to media centers like Boxee.

Business week and Gizmodo feature articles on how Hulu may charge for enabling users to acess its content. In fact Gizmodo suggests that users must abandon Hulu immediatedly to not get cornered by the media website and being presured to pay for watching its content.

In true Web 2.0 fashion, Boxee has a platform to allow its users watch, comment and recommend shows to others. At this stage Boxee is using the popular viral model to promote itself.

Boxee is planning a big release event for the 7th of December where it will unveil its Beta version. This version will be available to the public in January 2010. It promises to make this version more impressive than its alpha.I cannot wait to get my hands on that version.

Boxee has also hinted that it would release a dedicated Boxee box, a device that will only run Boxee and that one can include in her home theater setup. There is no word on pricing for this one yet.

About two years ago, Boxee and Apple TV seemed to make an impressive sleek and inexpensive media center. The Apple TV is a small computer with 250MB of RAM and priced around $200.

Today, one can build his own dedicated Boxeebox with a more powerful computer like the Acer Apspire Revo that costs around the same and has a great graphics card that allows watching of HD programming. Lifehacker carries a couple of great articles on how to build a dedicated Boxee or XBMC box using a cheap PC.

The big incentive with both these media centers, XBMC and Boxee is that one gets on-demand programming and can eliminate cable entirely. (A good HD antenna is another addition to one's home that will provide the ability to access real time news.)

If you have not tried out using any of these media centers, you owe it to yourself to check themout by just installing either or both of them on your laptop, for starters.
I was amazed I could get this kind of software for free. XBMC and Boxee are guaranteed to change the way you watch TV or listen to music.

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