For this week’s Feature Friday, we decided to go a bit different in our theme. Rather than focusing on one setup, we decided to pull together as many setups as we could under a common theme, where the winning entries would receive a Pulse Eight USB CEC Adapter or a TotalMount. (Once again, thanks to Pulse Eight for sponsoring the contest.) With more than three dozen submissions, I believe we fairly successfully accomplished our goal. And with hardly any repeated methods for hiding htpcs and otherwise displaying them in an elegant manner, it has been incredibly difficult to choose a winner. Next time we do something like this, we may need to come up with a better way to narrow entries.

Nevertheless, rules are rules, and a winner must be selected. First, I’d like to toss up some honorable mentions, who almost certainly would win on any other given day.

First up: The XBMC Table by Oscar. Here we have a table that totally folds up so that you might assume it was nothing more than your traditional living room coffee table. But then, when it unfolds, BOOM: XBMC. Inside the table are a projector, a subwoofer, and a screen. An additional screen pulls down from across the room.  (Note: This table was absolutely awesome, but somewhat unqualified for either award. The ATV2 can’t accept the HDMI-CEC Adapter, and the ATV2 is built into the table (and no TV exists), so there’s be no real use for a TotalMount. Nevertheless, we wanted to highlight the amount of craftmanship and ingenuity involved in designing so awesome a table.)

Next, the XBMC Subwoofer. One of these subwoofers doesn’t put out any sound, but it does have a tiny HTPC surprise for those willing to check it out! Continue reading

Thanks to some unexpected freeing up of time (and more news unrelated to Feature Friday), we are happy to announce that Feature Fridays are back on the menu. As always, if you have a setup you’d like featured, feel free to send it in to natethomas AT xbmc DOT org (also, see the end of this article for a new contest).

This week, we turn to Matt, who successfully managed to buy his massive collection of harddrives before hard drive prices went crazy. Like all good enthusiasts should, he’s hidden his server running Ubuntu in a back closet, where his 12 TB of harddrive space can spin quietly, away from earshot.

When Matt designed his entertainment center, he decided that visible wires were for crazy folk. The problem was, he didn’t have an entirely new room to work with when building, and he didn’t want ugly speakers hanging out of the walls. So, he did this: Continue reading

Let’s talk about brilliant user Jon from Florida. Jon has two things going for him. First of all, he started using XBMC back in the glory days when “XBMC” wasn’t a recursive name for XBMC Media Center. Second, he doesn’t do things half way. When he decided to install XBMC into his home, he decided to install XBMC into his entire home. It is running through his walls. It has wrapped its adamantium tendrils around the thick bones of Jon’s Ft. Lauderdale house, and it is going to do its very best never to let go.

Network Switch and Drobo

Network Switch and Drobo

The Brains of the Operation

Less poetically, Jon has fully wired his home with Cat5 ethernet, installing four ethernet drops in every room in the house. All of this ethernet ends up attached to a switch in a tucked away closet, as you can see in the picture to the right.

On the other end of this switch is Jon’s server, a 5 drive Drobo, holding five 2 terabyte harddrives, for a total storage of about 9 terabytes of space. This Drobo provides all the storage Jon needs for the setup of his entire home. Speaking of which… Continue reading

If you’re looking for clean lines and an elegant use of color and lighting, one need look no further than the living room of Nik from Sweden.

Nik's Place

Nik's Place

Nik was one of the very first people to post his setup on the XBMC Facebook Fanpage. Ever since then, after convincing him to let us crash at his place whenever we happen to be passing through Sweden (i.e. possibly never), we’ve been trying to get him to agree to a Feature Friday.

This week, we finally succeeded!

Next week, we plan on asking him to loan us 20 kronor for the bus.

Nik’s place looks like it could easily be used as a set for a show like the West Wing. There is no overhead lighting to speak of, and the resulting colors are beautiful to behold. All of the light sources in the room come from specific items, like the windows, and the fish tank, and the hallway, and, of course, the hidden light behind the miniature pirate ship.

Continue reading

This is Micah’s gaming PC.

Gaming PC

Gaming PC says hi

Often, Micah will play a few quick hours of Star Trek Online with his gaming PC. Naturally, this means he needs some serious processor power, which is why the PC is equipped with a Core i7 3.06GHz quad-core processor and a GTX 470 video card, along with 12 gigs (soon to be 24 gigs) of RAM. It’s also got some extensive fans and a serious gamer case.

None of that is particularly interesting to an XBMC head. What might be slightly more interesting are these: Continue reading

This is Jonathan Marshall. He’s a New Zealander and the president of the XBMC Foundation, and right now he’s standing in his crawl space. You may note the lack of a floor in his house.

Jonathan Marshall in his basement

Jonathan Marshall in his 2 feet deep basement

Jonathan has been with the XBMC  Team longer than almost anybody currently on the team, so when he and his wife (and, of course, their two cats, Chilli and Thyme, and dog Jet) bought a house back in 2006, it was a given that they were going to have a pretty nifty little entertainment system. Continue reading

Hold your breath

Make a wish

Count to three

Where the Magic Happens

Where the Magic Happens

Come with me to the home of Lutz, one of our Germany XBMC users. Lutz’s home doesn’t have a bat cave or any other kind of man cave. There are no super creative touch screens or repurposed upstairs bedrooms.  In fact, the intro to this post aside, Lutz doesn’t even proudly display any delicious Milka chocolate or Haribo.  What Lutz does have is oodles and oodles of candy.

Tech candy, to be specific.

As a rule, I try to be as jealous as possible of everyone who submits a Feature Friday.  Lutz may just take the cake for most assorted things I want.

Sure, he’s got the basic things. For example, he’s got an AMD dual core computer with 5tb of storage running Win7 Pro 64 and XBMC, and he’s outputting his sound using an ASUS Xonar DS, for one of the cleanest consumer analog outputs on the market, and certainly one of the best cards out there for receivers that don’t accept HDMI in. Continue reading

For this week’s Feature Friday, we turn to AJ Perkins of the UK. AJ has a pretty awesome living room XBMC, easy as 1-2-3setup, but this week we’d like to take a break from just telling you about how awesome the various homes of users are. Instead, I’d like to ask you to bring a loved one over to the computer. That’s right, we’re going interactive!  This week, we’d like to take a minute or two to show the friends and family members of our XBMC users just how cool XBMC can be.

So XBMC user, please stand up, go grab somebody you like (and, more importantly, somebody who likes you enough to put up with reading the blog you follow religiously), and pull them over to the computer.  We’ll wait.

Hello wife, girlfriend, mother, father, partner, boyfriend, husband, or other statistically likely significant individual! The person who just dragged you over here would like to show you some things about his recent/long-standing obsession with XBMC. I promise to try make this as painless as possible, but can make no guarantees. Continue reading

Jon Barrow is married with four children. An average trip to the movie theater for a family of that size would require two $10 tickets, plus four $8 tickets. That’s $42 $52 before the candy, popcorn, and soda.  Most times, they have to leave the youngest with a sitter, as the little one is still too young to really appreciate movies.  Needless to say, for a family of movie buffs, all of that can really start biting into the pocketbook.

Let the demolition begin!

Let the demolition begin!

Fortunately for Jon, the family had been using XBMC since 2004, when he installed it on an old Xbox.  About two years ago, Jon and his wife bought their first home.  A top priority in this search was space for a DIY home theater.  After some time, the family settled on a really delightful home that, most importantly, had a spare basement room that measured 9 feet by 13 feet and might have been the inspiration for the basement of That 70s Show.

The plan was relatively simple. Demolish the old room. Rip out the fake wood and cabinets, and then make use of the resulting space as efficiently and inexpensively as possible.

Goal #1 was to make the room as movie theater-like as possible. This meant a massive screen was necessary.  But a massive screen was simply not going to fit in the relatively small room and still leave space for all the necessary front speakers for 5.1 sound. Continue reading

Perhaps the single most popular picture ever posted to the XBMC Facebook Fanpage (‘like’ us, if you haven’t already) had almost nothing at all to do with XBMC. Palle Olsen was tired of trying to hide his cords. All the usual methods didn’t work or ended up even more cluttery than just letting the cords dangle. So, rather than accept messy cords as part of life, Palle got creative.

Awesome Wiring

Palle's Wiring Works

His old school Xbox running XBMC had relatively few cords. Likewise, the wiring for his speaker system and television weren’t presenting very many problems, and those few problems that did exist had previously been solved. The major issues were the four cords sticking out of the PS3.

Palle, being a creative guy, had an idea. To deal with the problem, he was going to hang his PS3 on the wall and then prominently display his cords for all the world to see.  Now most people would say that’s a terrible solution to a cord problem.

Most people aren’t Palle Olsen.

He bought some cheap super glue and – to protect the walls from the glue – some equally inexpensive double-sided adhesive mounting tape.  He hung the PS3 on the wall.  Then Palle snapped a photo of his television, PS3, and wall, threw that photo onto Adobe Illustrator, and got to designing. Continue reading