10. Load Up On The Plug-Ins
9. Whip Your Metadata And Art Into Shape
8. Add A TV Tuner
So you’ve got on-demand movies and TV shows on your machine, but there’s still something to be said for seeing what’s on the tube when it’s on the tube. With an inexpensive TV tuner, you can turn your on-demand-only home theatre PC into a full-featured, DIY DVR. You can watch live TV, record your favourite shows, and funnel them right into your media centre program of choice. There’s no need to buy an expensive separate device when you can integrate it into your existing system.
7. Automatically Download TV Shows As Soon As They’ve Aired
6. Get An Awesome Remote
5. Set Up An HTPC That Non-Geeks Can Actually Use
Programs like XBMC are great, but let’s be honest: they really aren’t that friendly to the less tech-savvy. It’s a sad fact, but if you have a spouse or roommate that isn’t quite as in tune with the inner workings of your PC, they’ll have a hard time watching TV without you around. We’ve gone through how to set up a more friendly media centre before, and it’s worth a look if you’re getting sick of turning on the TV for your roommate every time they continue their Doctor Who marathon.
4. Build It Into Your Entertainment Centre
3. Rule It From Afar With Wake-on-LAN
Unless you keep it on and running full steam all the time, you’ll actually need to get up and press the button to turn it on. Since most of us are a bit lazier than that, consider setting up a Wake-on-LAN system for your home theatre PC. With it, you’ll be able to turn it on from anywhere in the room, just like you would a normal set-top box for your TV. Some IR receivers even support Wake-on-LAN, so you could turn it on using the power button on your universal remote.
2. Synchronise Your Media Centre Between Every Room In The House
If you have more than one home theatre PC in your home, you probably like to watch TV as you move around the house. With a bit of set-up, you can actually get XBMC in sync across all your machines, so you can pause your media centre in one room and continue watching where you left off in another room.
1. Turn Your Media Centre Into A Video Game Console
If you aren’t satisfied with just the usual music, movies, TV, and photos, you can actually turn your media centre into a video game console as well. With a plug-in and a bit of work in XBMC, you can add emulators and ROMs galore, browse through them just like you do movies and music, and play them on demand. No longer do you need to waste space and clutter your cabinet with old game systems and controllers—you’ll be able to play nearly anything from one device, with whatever controller you want. You can also do the same thing in Boxee as well.