Modding The Xbox Into The Ultimate Multimedia Center

System Information

General system information can also be gleaned from the corresponding submenu in the XBMC.

HDTV Capability Included?

As expected, a playback of a HDTV version of the "Van Helsing" trailer at 1280x720 quickly brought the 740 MHz CPU to its limit. This is where the Turbo mode comes into play: At 1,480 MHz it was actually possible to run most trailers virtually flicker-free. It's a shame that the high picture quality is greatly diminished even when using the S-Video output.


While a top-of-the-range DVD player's performance may be good, the range of functions most models offer are limited to say the least. No solution we are aware of comes close to the capabilities of the Xbox Media Center. Fortunately, the developers offer the XBMC free of charge and a suitably modded Xbox, such as the one we tested, with remote control and A/V cable, is readily affordable.

It's also comforting to note that the developers are currently working feverishly on a conventional version of the XBMC, which would give Windows the same functionality. Here, since a single program supports playback of all media formats, it would also make sense to use an infrared remote control via IrDA or a USB receiver. The buttons of the remote control could then be programmed with simple key commands.

Meanwhile, the inevitable onslaught of future systems that will support numerous multimedia file types will still have a tough time to beat the price/performance ratio a modded Xbox offers.