Dear Lifehacker, For the last few years I've been using my Xbox as a media centre of sorts — basically plugging my external hard drive in and watching TV shows and movies through it as well as DVDs. But the other week the Xbox died (damn three red rings!) Now I need something to replace it and was hoping you could provide some advice.
I've been looking at the Western Digital range of TV Players (Live Hub is winning at the moment), and also maybe another Xbox, but I'm wondering if there's something I haven't seen, or something that would suit my needs better. Any advice you can offer would be really appreciated. At the moment all I do is watch shows from my external hard drive and play the odd DVD.
Thanks, Boxed In
Picture by tomasland
At the risk of sounding horrendously unsophisticated, for your current purposes I'm personally going to suggest that buying a replacement Xbox 360 might be the best solution for your needs. You can pick up a new Xbox 360 without too much trouble (chances are right now it'll come with a Kinect controller as well), and you'll be able to use it for games, DVD playback and accessing movies on your external drive.
That's not to say there aren't lots of other alternatives — from Apple TV to the Live Hub to building your own XBMC centre — but in practical terms, for the setup you describe, the Xbox is a really straightforward solution. But I'll also freely admit to not being a modern media centre enthusiast, so I'd welcome alternative suggestions from readers in the comments.