What can XBMC do?
Hi all,

I'm new in the forum and I've only recently found out about XBMC. My question will seem rather obvious or/and naive but I would appreciate some answers anyway...

I heard about XBMC from an acquaintance who quit cable TV to start using only XBMC. Unfortunately I didn't get the details first hand and so I'm trying to understand exactly what XBMC is and what it can do, since I would be interested in something that can replace normal cable tV.

I'm not familiar with the very technical terms and so, even thought I browsed thru XBMC Wikipedia entry and got a small idea about what it might be I'm still a bit unsure if it's exactly what I would like to be. If someone could "explain it to me like I'm a 4 year old" I would rather appreciate it Wink

The main question I have is if XBMC allows me to watch live stream TV, exactly like it is on a normal tv channel... I have a feeling this might not be possible since why would anyone bother to stream a tv channel 24/7 right? Still, I dare to ask Tongue

If it's not, can I at least get access to different tv shows? perhaps in user made playlists. Where I can pick one that I like and just watch it? (similar to user channels in Justin.tv?)..

Any clarification is appreciated!

If you want to watch live TV, you're unlikely to find many live streams (especially in good quality). You'll have to either connect a cable receiver or put a TV card in your computer and use the experimental XBMC-PVR branch in conjunction with a backend. Both solutions are rather dodgy (especially the latter tends to be buggy), and XBMC isn't perfectly fitted for TV watching (it'll feel very different from a standard receiver). If you want to watch TV hassle-free, your best options are probably sticking to your cable receiver (perhaps using XBMC on the side for other media) or using another media center with better TV integration.

Personally I use XBMC-PVR, but I like to tinker and don't watch much TV, and the benefits (having everything in one device/interface, not having to adhere to my cable provider's restrictions on recording etc.) outweigh the disadvantages.

Several TV channels provide online media nowadays, sometimes offering full episodes (but usually not all episodes in all series, it tends to be just the latest one). Often these have a lower quality than the original broadcast.
XBMC plugins have been made for many of these. For example, if you're in the US, you can watch Hulu.
But if you're a TV enthusiast, these are probably not enough to replace cable.
Hi DrDaxxy, thanks for your reply!

Ok, so as I was afraid, no live tv. That's ok. I'm still a bit confused though...

Is XBMC used solely to store media that people already have (my movies, music, pictures, etc), kinda like a folder system?

Or does it have channels with different content put together by users that I can select to watch? (like, HBO shows, National Geographic Docs, etc)

I guess my question is: does XBMC provide content or merely helps me organize content I owe?
XBMC is just a media center software made by people in their free time. There's no content provider behind it. It also has no social media features (and I don't think there's much support for that in addons). There are addons that let you make virtual TV channels (basically direct your own channel, just for yourself), and ones that let you use TV channels' media portals and social video portals like YouTube, so yes, you can find new content with XBMC (though it's not *provided* by XBMC or its users) but organizing a media library is where it really shines.

There are other, more commercial/company-backed media centers like the XBMC-based Boxee (which is still freeware but largely closed source) and the dedicated set-top-box Roku (meaning you'll have to purchase a box for it, it's not just software you can install on your PC) that seem to be more what you're looking for.
It is a mediacenter that allows you to watch almost any media that your computer have accesss to. If your computer have access to a movie, it figures out all details about that movie and shows you the actors, the plot and other details about the movie.

You can add plugins (extra tools for XBMC) so XBMC can handle popular internet based services. One such example is Youtube. Instead of using your web browser to watch youtube stuff, you can do that within XBMC. Many such plugins exist, the idea is to only need to use XBMC instead of a bunch of other programs, tools or websites.

A special PVR version of XBMC exist that allows you to watch TV-channels if your computer have access to such channels. Basically if you have a valid cable subscription, you can connect the cable to your computer instead of connecting it to your tv. As mentioned, this is experimental.

In my opinion, the beauty of XBMC is that it can handle everything that I would wish my TV could do.

Before you start thinking about using XBMC to watch media, it would be good to figure out how your computer can access your desired media. (music, tv-shows, movies). XBMC does not provide content, it just uses much content that is already available on the internet for free, or media that is already available on your computer to give you a nice experience where all of this is integrated in one GUI that can be navigated by a remote.

It can also view pictures that your computer have access to and present the latest wheater forecast. Instead of opening a web browser and google the latest wheater forecast, it is available with a push of a button on my remote.
Thanks for your reply Tompen,

It seems this is not exactly what I was told is was, then...
The friend who told me about it said it used it to watch tv shows, documentaries, movies, etc. online.

I saw it on his machine and indeed it had several channels with different type of content.

It's possible that I made a mistake and got the name of the software wrong... that would be embarrassing...

I can only appreciate the usefulness of XBMC, as you explain it, to some extend... I don't completely see the advantage of having such a program to be honest. It sounds quite complex for a media center...

I've been using my PS3 as a media center of some sort. I put my movies and tv shows there and just watched it from there... I admit that probably XBMC does much more than that but it's hard for me to see that now...

I'll keep looking for some other software to watch tv shows and documentaries online. That's what I'm after. If you know some feel free to share Smile

Thanks again for your help!
Hulu and/or netflix are popular programs to show tv-shows and documentaries. I think there are such plugins for xbmc (the one program that can handle everything)
Hulu and Netfix are paid though, right?
Also, I'm outside the US and Hulu only works for US users :/
Better ask him again then, if what he has is exactly what you want Tongue

XBMC is great for large media libraries, it can help you organize them. It also supports many file formats that the PS3 doesn't. But if a PS3 is all you need, it's probably better to stick to that than switch to XBMC because people tell you it's good Tongue

What country are you in? Maybe there are similar services for it.
Yeah, this isn't at all what I thought it would be. I was told I could give up cable (paid for tv) and just watch several shows online with XBMC. I will check whether I got the name right or not! I'm beginning to think I didn't Blush

I'm in Portugal btw.

Thanks for all your help!
Well there aren't many programs named like XBMC, so you probably got that right Tongue
As I said, you should probably ask him what he's doing exactly, there's no use trying to guess how.
Honestly it sounds like you should look into the boxee box. Its like xbmc but more for replacing cable. Xbmc can do most of that stuff but requires a lot of tweaking. I use xbmc because i like how you can customize it. That's part of the fun. You could also look into a myth box maybe even in conjunction with xbmc.
Your mates talking about Icefilms through XBMC. Wouldn't bother mate!!!, used to be great before Megaupload got busted.....

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