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.