The Most Complete and Affordable Multimedia Entertainment Solution for your lounge room is made by Microsoft, but it is not the product that you would expect. Although a PC equipped with Windows Media Center Edition has good features and will play most of the media you would like it to, it is quite expensive to purchase the hardware and the operating system. And the fact still remains that there is a much cheaper and superior alternative that Microsoft would never advertise.
For about the same price as a high quality DVD player you can get yourself the most complete multimedia entertainment solution. With the ease of use and speed of a DVD player, smaller than and with more features than a Windows Media Center PC, the original Microsoft Xbox, mated with a mod chip, is the complete solution. Not only this, but custom software can be employed; in particular, Xbox Media Center, or XBMC. XMBC is open source software that replaces the standard Microsoft launch menu, and is packed with features that you would pay triple the price for in other products.
An Xbox with Xbox Media Center installed will allow playback of basically any media format you can throw at it. With an adapter you have surround sound support, and HDTV support allowing resolutions up to 1080i.
The experience gets even better when you connect the Xbox to your LAN or to the internet. You may share your media files on your PC and watch them directly from the Xbox. XBMC supports the common streaming media formats from the internet, so you may listen to all of the Shoutcast or similar radio stations on the net. And of course there are also the obligatory visualisations available to make the music look as good as it sounds!
The great thing about this product is the continued development of the XBMC software. That is not to say it is not a complete package, because it is. But as we all know, technology is continually improving, and as such, support for new media technologies is always needed, and will long be provided by the XBMC project.
As I am sure you would agree, the huge amount of powerful features make this an extremely complete multimedia solution for any lounge room. If you also take into account the Xbox’s original purpose of playing games and its affordability, the mod chipped Microsoft Xbox running XBMC is the most complete entertainment solution money can buy.