Windows/Linux: Clean, straightforward media centre Elisa has grown into something else—namely Moovida, a similar but more advanced and TV-focused media centre. Take a look at what's new in this brief screenshot tour.
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Last week, SBS upgraded its digital transmitters around the country. The practical consequence? The station can now differentiate its broadcasts for different regional areas, offers full 720p resolution on its HD channel and now has a seven-day EPG. The downside? You might need to retune your set-top box, digital TV or PVR/media centre software to match the new requirements. If your equipment gives you grief in this respect, the SBS how-to linked below has contact details for most TV manufacturers.SBS Digital Upgrade
If you're that rare breed of Windows user who also owns an Apple TV, you can max out its potential with the free Boxee media center by creating a USB stick from Windows—a hack previously possible only with a Mac handy. The atvusb-creator site now offers a relatively stable, command-line based XP/Vista tool that creates an image, offers the tool to copy it to your USB drive, and works just like the Mac-created version. Check this forum post for more detailed instructions—I'm loading Boxee on my ATV right now, and I'll share the results in another post.
Popular media centre application and XBMC-spinoff Boxee has opened its alpha to all Mac and Linux users and is ramping up invites for the Windows private alpha, meaning that if you've been dying to try Boxee, you should be able to do so sooner than later. Apart from that, Boxee has also released an update supporting MTV Music, Joost and BBC iPlayer (UK only), along with more bug fixes and improvements.
Windows only: Open-source application XBMC has received all of the attention in the media centre arena lately, but it still can't replace your TiVo. MediaPortal can, and it just hit its official 1.0 release. MediaPortal is a Windows-only media centre application that was originally spawned as a fork of XBMC almost five years ago. Today the application has been entirely redesigned, and apart from offering much of the same functionality of other popular media centre applications, MediaPortal works with hardware TV tuners to add DVR functionality to your PC. We showed you how to roll your own DVR and media centre with MediaPortal a couple of years back, but now the full featured MediaPortal is better than ever. As an added bonus, now that MediaPortal has hit that official 1.0 release, the MP developers are starting to ramp up for MediaPortal II, which aims to bring a better design and more stable architecture to MediaPortal. MediaPortal is a free download, requires .NET 2.0 or higher. I haven't used MediaPortal extensively since we last covered it, so if you've got more experience with it, let's hear your thoughts in the comments.MediaPortal
The past ten years have completely changed the way we listen to music, watch movies and television, and take photos, and one thing is abundantly clear: The future of your media lies undeniably in the digital realm. Now you just need to find the perfect media centre application to pull it all together. Photo by Aaron Escobar.
Mac OS X only: The latest version of the free Plex Media Centre for Mac now includes iTunes and iPhoto support, iTunes visualizations, TV theme music, and the ability to play songs you've purchased from the iTunes Store. This tight iTunes/iPhoto integration comes in part from the Plex Media Server, which makes your songs and photos show up inside Plex while running in parallel. The Plex developer explains:
The Plex Media Server is a standalone program that runs alongside Plex (or alone on any machine, it's a Universal Binary). It serves up media from your iLife applications (iTunes and iPhoto today, Aperture and Lightroom shortly). Plex communicates with the Plex Media Server on the local machine, on your local network, or even across the world over the Internet. This means that you can play your friends' iTunes playlists or browse their podcasts or photo albums.
The Plex Media Centre is a fork of the XBMC project, which also offers a Mac version. In fact, XBMC Atlantis' Mac version also includes iTunes and iPhoto support; compare our Plex screenshot tour to the Atlantis tour to see the differences between the two projects, which share the same code base. Plex is a free download for Intel Macs running Leopard only.Plex
Mac only (for now): The ATV USB Loader, a free tool to boot third-party software on an Apple TV unit, has updated to include the slick media centre Boxee amongst the booting options. We liked Boxee's new looks and social flair when it was available for Macs (and, later, Linux), and the Apple TV implementation looks just as crisp. By loading Boxee, Apple TV users get access to nearly any kind of unrestricted video or audio files, can send recommendations to friends and stream Last.fm tunes, and do nearly anything else in the (currently invitation-required) Boxee. Of course, ATV also maintains support for Xbox Media Centre. If you've grabbed Boxee and tried it out on Apple TV, share your likes and wants in the comments.ATV USB Creator
The popular open-source media centre application Xbox Media Centre (XBMC) has rolled out the first beta release of XMBC Atlantis, which brings XBMC to all platforms. That means XBMC now runs on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, the original Xbox, and even your thumb drive or live CD. Despite its beta status, this release brings XBMC even closer to cross-platform bliss—including iTunes and iPhoto integration for XBMC on your Mac. The new release also boasts a killer new HD skin, so keep reading for a closer look.
Mac only: XBMC for Mac—the open source media centre software that offers a more flexible alternative to Front Row—has been renamed Plex, rebranded, and redesigned. Plex's most recent release sports a new logo, a new skin, and a slew of bug fixes. You've already seen how to turn your Mac into the ultimate media centre with Plex (and the old, default, Project Mayhem skin). Now, take a look what the rebranded XBMC fork looks like sporting its new name and new skin.