320px-Xbmc_logo My home theater situation has gone through more than a few iterations over the years. Currently, I couldn’t be more pleased and I owe it almost entirely to XBMC, it’s extensive platform support, and the community for making add-ons for just about everything I’d need and more…

Platform support. XBMC runs on Windows, Linux, OS X, iOS, Apple TV, Android, and Raspberry Pi. They even have their own linux flavor built on Ubuntu: XBMCbuntu. I mainly use XBMC on Windows and iOS. The media center in my second bedroom/mini gym consists of a 5th generation iPod touch running XBMC, a bluetooth speaker, and a pico projector. The only drawback about running it on iOS is the device must be jailbroken to install XBMC which means it’s perpetually behind in software updates. Having such a compact and powerful media center capable of rendering all the remote and local media I’d want is quite incredible though.

Airplay. Being able to throw videos, pictures, and music up to the screen or room speakers from my plethora of iDevices is pretty convenient and a great party tool for any attendees with Airplay capable devices to share media with everyone. Chromecast is another great option that offers the same functionality for less investment of both time and money; Considering I already had XMBC setup and I do occasionally enjoy playing full-fledged games on the PC + projector, I’ll stick with XBMC.

Remote control. The Official XBMC Remote for iOS is absolutely brilliant on mobile or tablet. The meta info it brings in for artists, TV shows, and movies is everything you’d expect from a “smart” device. What’s almost more impressive is that most of the meta is being piped in and parsed by the remote from XBMC’s web interface.

Native hardware controller support. Considering XBMC’s roots on the XBox it’s no surprise it has built in support for game controllers. You’d think that using two hands to navigate and manage the interface might be more of a hassle than picking up a plastic brick that could be used with one hand but I actually prefer it. The responsiveness of the controls on the game controller (XBox controllers) and the interface provide a solid, pleasing experience and is as fast if not faster than any other option. That said, any option for controlling a device from your couch that lets you sit more on your couch and blankly stare at the screen for hours can’t be that bad. Whatever your pleasure though, XBMC supports hundreds of remote controllers.

Skins. The appropriate skin can make the difference between controlling XBMC first-hand or not. Many skins are simply not useable on a touch device while others may be less than optimal on a non-touch device. Several skins offer more than just a visual modification of XBMC, they sometimes come bundled with add-ons that enhance the behavior or other visual aspects of XBMC.