Is XBMC any good? My first impressions

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  • #7798

    Paul
    Keymaster

    I recently installed XBMC for a friend, so I will write up some first impressions on XBMC, some good points and some bad points, for anyone who is wondering what exactly it is or if it’s any good as a solution to having no Astra 2E/2F satellite signal and wanting to get free UK TV.

    First of all it wasn’t as easy to use as I may have hoped. I am technically minded after working with computers for 15 years, but since using Windows Media Center for some time (Windows behind very user friendly) I found XBMC to be a bit of a nuisance to navigate. The user interface isn’t as intuitive as it could be, for example to add a folder of video files on your PC, you end up opening about 4 smaller windows 1 after the other and then having to click on “OK” on all of them to close them afterwards. Surely this could be accomplished by simply clicking “OK” on the destination directory. Just 1 small annoyance.
    You can change the appearance of XBMC via “skins”, and perhaps other skins have an easier to use interface, but I cannot be bothered searching for and installing other skins to make things work better when I’m meant to be looking for “easy to use” solutions.

    Then, to get UK TV which is what most of you reading this will want to do, you would have to install “add-ons”. XBMC doesn’t come with many add-ons installed, though you can search for some (only a limited amount) via the XBMX interface. However all the good ones that you would want are not listed there. This requires you to search the net for what you want, or to add a new “repository” (list of add-ons) to XBMC.
    Now, the problem with add-ons is that they can stop working. Perhaps when XBMC updates in the future. Or because iPlayer for example changes the way it does things, and thus the add-on no longer works until it (maybe) gets updated. This also means you will have to search for the new add-on (if it gets fixed).
    So any Android/Droidbox or other TV box that comes with XBMC and claims to have loads of channels for free, probably does so, but for how long is another matter. You need to be aware of this and prepared for things to stop working as time goes by and the add ons are no longer supported or developed. Most add ons do get updated but I’m saying there is no guarantee. For example, Deman 5 used to work on XBMC, stopped working, got fixed by the developer and then stopped working again days later. It now will not work on XBMC due to Demand 5 changing the DRM (digital rights management?) on their stream.

    Then the default addons for UKTV such as iPlayer will also not work out of the box because your computer’s IP address is not in the UK. Therefore you will probably have to use something like a filmon add on, which brings in a whole new discussion whether that is any good or not, and if it is something you want to use. Some people say it is brilliant and good quality picture, while others say the image quality is not good and even issues with audio and video going out of sync. (Though I would say that this can be caused by slower computer hardware and not necessarily anything to do with filmon. Your computer may be struggling to decode the stream efficiently.)

    1 other problem I found is that on this older (CRT) 26″ TV, some of the text is a bit small and not very clear. XBMC was definitely designed to be run on modern (LCD) TVs, and has support for a 10 foot display so it will look nice on any massive screen.

    Good points, XBMC runs on an old computer and will decode 720p high definition video on old hardware fairly well. It will use the CPU of course but also any video hardware that the PC may have. My friend’s computer was pretty ancient, a single core 2.4 Athlon, 1GB RAM and Windows 7 with a pretty ancient 128MB graphics card. Yet XBMC works very well, oh and I set up a smartphone as a remote control for it!

    You can download and install apps such as games, though again for many of these your PC will need to be up to spec to run them. XBMC has a weather app built in, this is an example of how you could configure it with gadgets and apps which display on your home TV all of the time. Apparently you can also start watching a film in 1 room, then go in to another room and resume the playback from where you left off in the other room.

    So to recap

    Good points:
    Works well on older computers
    Highly configurable
    Apps and add-ons
    Smartphone remote control
    Supports up to 10 foot HD display
    Fun for techies and people who like gadgets

    Bad points:
    Cumbersome to navigate
    Interface isn’t good on older TVs
    Bit technical to find and install the “good” add-ons
    Apps/add-ons can cease to be supported at any time

    If anyone has anything to add, please feel free to do so. I may update this post as time goes by.

    #7844

    Montgolfiere
    Member

    I have been working with a UK Supplier of Android IPTV Boxes and offer them to my Clients with XBMC instllled running the Filmon SD and notFilmon HD Addons. I also have a Google App version of Filmon SD Running so they do have a ‘Back-Up’ in the event of problems with either of the XBMC Addons or indeed XBMC itself. Various addons that give access to Movie and or Series Streaming are also installed with a good ‘Library’ of ‘Other’ addons available should the Client require them enabling. I have at the moment decided to avoid any Geo-Blocked services such as Iplayer and leave the customer to watch these on their Computer Laptop etc….
    So Far so good… but i do make it clear to the Customer that there could be the possibility of problems ‘down the road’ with either Filmon itself , XBMC or indeed the addons themselves!!

    #7851

    Dave
    Member

    With a VPN (If Outside UK) and XBMC, TV Catchup plug in for XBMC is excellent also has epg if you need it. Lots of info on how to access repositories on various websites just search for the one you want to add and all the instructions are easy to follow. The other good thing about XBMC is that you can obtain the correct aspect ratio if you are using a 16:9 display.

    #7854

    Anonymous

    Good write up and thread heard a bit troublesome so kept away as don’t want loads of call outs re customer not too technical
    If u buy from good supplier they will do all the hard
    Work for u re updates etc there is a good one on amazon uk
    Xx

    #11205

    Anonymous

    Hi Just been paying with Live tv on xbmc now reviving about 1500 channels British TV and large number of  SPORT channels.

    Frankrose

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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