Scott Penrose

XBMC

Scott Penrose is a perl hacker with an interest in home automation. He has been playing with electronics since he was old enough to burn his fingers with a soldering iron.

This is soft of a continuation of my old Plex vs Boxee post.

See also Raspberry Pi XBMC

  • I am leaving Boxee. Why... because they are leaving me. Boxee announced they will no longer be releasing or supporting PC/Mac versions of Boxee and only releasing to their dedicated hardware. I was excited about the Boxee Box - but now I would not touch it with a 10 foot pole, as the saying goes.
  • Plex looks beautiful. I love most of it. But it constantly crashes. The media server takes up all the memory I think. I end up rebooting my box many times a day. The server is nice, I like the split server vs player - I like only having to manage my metadata in one place for multiple TVs and devices.
  • XBMC - I am new to XBMC. I read a lot of reviews that rave about XBMC, almost always by one of their developers though.

So here I am. Issues with Plex, Boxee going away, trying XBMC. Here I will document my issues and solutions.

Hardware

  • Right now - Mac OS X Mini
  • Very soon - Embedded Linux, e.g. Raspberry Pi or similar.

Installation

  • No issue what so ever - easy to do.

SOLUTION: None required

Initial configuration

  • Adding a media source - fairly easy, although learning about context menus (also used in Plex) is tricky. Really Boxee is clear winner for usability.

SOLUTION: None required

Interface and Usability

It just isn't nice to use. It is not intuitive. I find my self using my laptop to google how to do things constantly, and I find other people all asking the same questions. To be fair I suspect that a lot of this is to do with the skin - but I am using the default skin.

You can see where you want to get on the page but you just can't get their. I still can't figure out when I get a text box like rename how to move around. Arrow keys, backspace, escape they all just stay where you enter text. Other boxes to get to the bottom you counter intuitively press left arrow from the top entry.

SOLUTION: TODO - try out some other skins.

Kids

My kids (2 and 5) have no problem with Boxee. They made the switch to Plex without an issue, and easily navigate. XBMC is presenting a couple of problems though.

  • The defaults, like getting to kids folder is hard to follow - lots of text to read
  • The iView interface (granted not specifically XBMC now) has no Genres. Normally my kids go find "ABC 4 Kids" section. Ignoring that there is no images for the shows. In plex they can see a thumbnail for each show.

SOLUTION: TODO - look at how to create folders of shortcuts, e.g. to their kids folders and even directly to the kids ABC folders. Also contact the developer and see if I could make some changes.

Can't connect to server

Even though I use a SMB share locally managed, not through XBMC, I keep getting a "Can't connect to server" pop up right over the top of the movie I am watching. Probably something to do with the database lookups (title matching etc).

SOLUTION: Unknown

File / Directory performance

Each time I click on a directory in File view I have a long wait. Yes sometimes my file server can be slow, but this is never an issue for Boxee or Plex.

SOLUTION: Unknown

Next ...

I am just getting started... more to come.

See Also

  • HTPC