Home > media, network > Cheap media streaming with XBMC

Cheap media streaming with XBMC

For the past three years I’ve used an Xbox running the Xbox Media Centre software, to play video stored on my network through a TV. For a games system that’s several years old the interface and playback are very smooth, as long as you stick to standard definition video. HD is beyond the processor power available unfortunately, but that won’t become an issue until I finally upgrade to an LCD TV.

The downside to XBMC is that your Xbox needs to have a Modchip fitted, but that’s neither expensive nor difficult. These chips are still available online in the UK, though the number of sources has dropped recently following the threat of prosecution. A UK Modchip supplier recently won a case when accused of circumventing copyright protection, so this may change.

While an Xbox 360 can stream higher quality video using freely available software, the downside is price. The cheapest new Xbox 360 I have seen is at Amazon.co.uk, for £149.99. Ebay doesn’t appear to have any bargains when it comes to used consoles. Being seriously last generation, the original Xbox can be picked up for peanuts. I’ve just bought two fully working consoles without controllers for £11.09 from Ebay. I don’t need controllers since the interface works best using the xbox remote (£3-4 from ebay).

Media storage duties were originally done using a Windows XP computer containing all my old hard drives, but in these days of soaring energy prices that didn’t seem economical. A Synology Diskstation replaced the Windows machine, and streams just as well while using a fraction of the power.

My plan when the Xbox’s arrive is to chip them both (modchips are around £12+P&P), mirror the hard drive from the existing xbox to the two new ones and use them around the house for media streaming duties. They serve just as well for photo or music streaming, and the only downside is the noise of the built in fan.

The total cost of a Modchiped Xbox running XBMC with remote is around £20-25+P&P, as far as I am aware this is the cheapest media streaming option available. Mrs Basshead has no trouble using the software once the paths to the media are setup for easy access, so to me that’s a bargain.

Categories: media, network Tags: , , , , , ,
  1. Unknown
    July 27, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    You don’t have to have a modchip. You can use a softmod which doesn’t cost anything and you never have to worry about it becoming unaligned.

  2. basshead
    July 27, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    To be honest I’ve fitted a few modchips so it’s an easy job and only takes around 45 minutes. The softmod looks interesting but I’m more of a stick with what you know guy. The softmod method I saw involved opening the Xbox up anyway so I might as well stick a modchip in there.

  3. anjilslaire
    August 22, 2008 at 5:47 am

    No opening necessary, unless you’re going to fit a larger drive in. You can use a hacked gamesave file to trigger a buffer overflow in ram, load another dash & get FTP access, which would then let you install the desired files, all without opening the box 🙂

    But, to each his own. I’ve never installed a chip, but softmodded about a dozen systems.

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