A US service member was living in Great Falls, MT. When the military reassigned him to a base in Turkey, he was met with the unenviable task of trying to squeeze all of the home theater equipment that easily fit is his old house into a much smaller military home halfway across the world.


XBMC in Turkey

The old house had a living room, plenty of bedrooms and a basement. Sean had read enough on AVSForum to know what to do with a basement that nobody was using. He tricked it out, home theater style.

The new house had a living room and a… well, a kitchen and some bedrooms. The bedrooms were being occupied by Sean, his wife, his son and his daughter. Sticking a projector into a kitchen is a risky proposition for any married man who wants to stay married. And that left the already occupied living room.

Sean could have given up, put the projector, screen, and audio system into storage, and just waited for a better assignment next go around, but what kind of XBMC geek would Sean be to give up so easily? Instead, he did what every self-respecting nerd would do in a similar situation. He stuck both setups in the same room!

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For this week’s Feature Friday, we’re going to move from the kitchen to a tiny, spare bedroom.  I’m sure many of you are familiar with the massive home theaters with moving parts, star-lit skies, curved screens, and more insulation than an average person could shake a stick at. You may also know that you can only make that kind of thing happen if you have several thousand dollars and an entire year to devote to the project.

Now Showing

Now Showing: A Large Screen

Most of us have neither that kind of money, nor that kind of time, which is why I like this week’s Feature Friday so much. Rather than dealing with the hassle of going all out, brilliant user João Lima of Brazil decided to cut ALL the unnecessaries out. No stars. No specially ordered screen cloth. No moving parts. A simpler home theater for a more civilized age in your living room.

Unfortunately, the wife vetoed this idea immediately. João was forbidden from touching the TV in the living room and was doubly forbidden from interfering with the wife’s shows (many of which were still being broadcast in 4:3 format, a still-common broadcast standard in Brazil).

So João did the next best thing. He wanted an XBMC home theater; he had a small, extra bedroom. The mission was on.

The room started with a TV and an old a bed/ converted couch. The plan was to eliminate the bed, get a real couch, rip out anything that could be ripped out, install the hardware, and do it all as simply, easily, space-savingly, and cheaply as possible. Continue reading

In this first edition of Feature Friday, we are going to forego the boring old bat cave and million dollar living room in favor of a wee bit of creativity. Brilliant user Oliver Owen, of the UK, has been using various versions of XBMC since 2003. He has had XBMC installed on at least one box in nearly every room in his flat.  Recently, he decided to add another room to the XBMC fold by building a custom touchscreen version of XBMC in his kitchen, primarily for music playback and easy access to the weather application.

XBMC Touch Screen

The XBMC Touchscreen... that ISN'T an iPad

XBMC on the iPad, of course, would not do, because Oli’s twin goals were minimal expenses and girlfriend approval.  As such, portability wasn’t a major concern, but cost was.

Cost is the biggest problem for nearly all modern tablets. They look nice. You can attach them to a refrigerator. You can create a kitchen stand out of chopsticks. You can even equip them with meat thermometers!

But you can’t get a tablet cheap. XBMC is free and can run on relatively simple minimal equipment. There’s really no reason to get fancy on the hardware, when XBMC can handle fancy all on its own. And that’s doubly true when you have no need or interest in playing HD content.

So Mr. Owen picked up an Acer Travelmate C110 off of ebay for 40 pounds sterling and a touchscreen kit for another £35.  If you’re counting at home, that’s £75, a savings of about £325 off the £399 price of the cheapest iPad.

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