You know we are true Windows Media Center fans here, but we acknowledge that there are other platforms available and some people actually like them. Media Portal and Myth TV are certainly solid, but perhaps the biggest competitor to WMC is XBMC, which was named for Xbox Media Center.
The software has come a long way since those early days. It can now play on almost any platform, most recently Android.
However, like the other WMC competitors, it is usually meant for a home theater PC (HTPC), although it can be run on Apple TV and the aforementioned Android, which is still in beta and requires installation from an APK file.
However, now Arctic has released an XBMC set top box that can replace that home-built HTPC. The MC001-XBMC packs a lot of power, all in a pre-built box.
- Dual Core Intel Atom D525 processor
- 2 GB of DDR3 RAM
- 1 TB HDD
- XBMC 12 (Frodo) with OpenELEC
- DVD optical drive
- 7.1 Dolby audio
- 5 USB ports
- SPDIF optical audio out
- IR receiver with remote
- WiFi and Ethernet connectivity
The box also supports a number of file formats, including almost any audio and video file you can throw at it. In addition, you can even use .ISO files, which many of you probably will not need to worry about, but certainly brought a smile to my face. You see, I prefer to rip DVD’s to .ISO in order to save menus and extras.
All of this does not come cheap – the MC001-XBMC retails for $459, but if you care to grab your wallet now then you can get a major discount. The box currently is available for $229, but there is no word on how long this offer will be available.
While this device does pretty much anything you could want, even at the discounted price, it is still a bit pricey, given that a Google TV box, which can run XBMC, can be had for $99. Still, it is a nice package and worth taking a look at, especially if you are frustrated with Microsoft’s treatment of WMC in Windows 8.
I see these two get wrongly compared to each other all of the time. WMC’s main power is it’s PVR ability that it’s had for almost a decade. XBMC is only just starting to get this through 3rd party back ends.
So please, do not say they are the same.
I use WMC to strictly record TV. I have tested many other XBMC back-end for PVR and have found that WMC is the only reliable and wife approved solution. However XBMC has far superior playback features. Also XBMC doesn’t have as many playback issues when playing my videos off my Drobo-FS (5 3TB WD Red drives). WMC through an Xbox360 takes forever to start the streams. Although i am running XBMC on MacMini’s with 8GB ram and 128GB SSD’s.