I Love You Mac Media Center

I’m now 6 weeks into the Mac Media Center experiment and I’m still in love. I watched the entire first season of The Wire over the Memorial Day weekend (yes my girlfriend was annoyed) but that’s just business as usual. I’ve also downloaded several movies from P2P sites and watched those as well. Anything Quicktime can view, your Mac Media Center can view via Front Row with a few caveats. First, to view WMV files, you’ll need to download the Flip2Mac plug-in for Quicktime. Again, preview it in QT first to see if it works. To watch AVI files, you’ll want to download Perian. Second, iTunes won’t recognize these files as it only supports Apple-blessed formats such as mp4 and m4v. However, Front Row has a built-in work-around : anything placed in Mac OS X’s “Movies” folder is accessible from Front Row. So, throw your AVI files in there, change the names to something sensible (because the only way they show up in Front Row is by file-name) and you’re ready to rock.

In addition to using Front Row as the engine of your Mac Media Center, remember that because you have a full-fledged computer hooked up to your TV, you can also take advantage of media websites like Hulu.com. Battlestar Galactica looks just dandy in full-screen mode on my 32″ LCD flat screen and the best news is, it’s free. One last note: you have a second, unlikely option if you want to turn your Mac into a Media Center: Xbox Media Center for Mac. I haven’t checked it out myself, but I’ve heard good things. XMCM may not be as smooth around the edges, but it’s full-featured, open-source, and treats AVI, DIVX, MP4 and MOV files all as equal citizens.

3 thoughts on “I Love You Mac Media Center

  1. It seems like having to maintain different apps for viewing the many different format movies would be a pain. I use an old XBOX that I purchased at a pawn shop for 60.00 to run XBMC. I did the softmod using the Slayer’s CD for the hack. I had to try several differnet types of DVD media before I found one the drive would read.

    The Xbox has many things you may like including HD output (1080i) and Dolby Digital 5.1 via optical. There are many, many skins for XBMC but I prefer the Project Mayhem III that comes with T3Ch’s compile. It accesses all media on my Windows Home Server via a wireless bridge. One of the coolest features is it’s abiity to download the Album / DVD cover from IMDB. This allows you to browse your movies visually.

    It’s definitely worth the 60.00! One other neat feature is that XBMC has it’s own webserver built in that will allow you to access the interfac via your wireless laptop, iphone, or Windows Mobile device….

    Let me know and I’ll send you one of these. I happen to have a few of them.


  2. Joe, Flip2Mac and Perian are just plug-ins for Quicktime. Downloading them just means that Front Row (the interface for the Mac Media Center) can support more movie formats. You still browse and watch your movies through the same easy-to-use interface.

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