I used three PCs for this article, one is an Intel 960 @ 3.6Ghz based dual core with 4GB (3 usable) RAM, a Nvidia 8500 GT video card with the output resolution set to 1920×1080 and Windows 7 operating system. The other is an Intel based Celeron 530 @ 1.73Ghz laptop with onboard Intel Mobile 965 Express Chipset Family video and Vista Home Basic. Finally, the third is a HP z560 intel 945 @ 3.0Ghz based dual core with 3GB RAM, a Nvidia 7600 GS video card with the output resolution set to 1920×1080 and Windows XP MCE 2005 SP3. I didn’t want to use too powerful of a computer so I could give the software a good minimum platform check out. The 960 and the HP both will play Blu-ray discs fine in PowerDVD, so it should be more than enough for XBMC.
This article is primarily based on the installation on the Windows 7 and XP operating systems. The Vista laptop seems to apply the same as windows 7 except if noted.
Download the software here: Download XBMC and run the installer. This article is based on the standard Dharma build and skin for simplicity, but there are other skins available. I would wait until you are familiar with the basic version before experimenting with the other skins. For those not familiar with the term skins, it is the look and feel of the user interface. Different skins will use different background graphics, menu looks and other user interface attributes. In some cases the order of the instructions on some skins could vary from this text, so that is why I recommend starting with the standard download.
Here are some video tutorials covering the installation:
[insert youtube videos here]
Now in tutorial three the instructions were for when you have a folder named for each movie and the movie is located in the folder such as would be the case if you ripped your DVDs. In my case I have separate files for each movie using the movie name as the file name. I set the “Run automated scan” option rather than the “Use folder names for lookups” and with the location added being the root directory of all my folders that contain movies, XBMC scanned all of the folders on the drive including sub-folders. I also used the default themoviedb.org.
To set a network location in you use the add and manually type the location in. The Browse won’t work for network locations.
Set the “Allow hardware acceleration (dxva2)” manually. Default is off which makes the CPU do all of the work. Located here: SYSTEM>Video>Playback
If your video playback has the interlace lines you will want to use the video settings in the player to set the interlace to on. You must be playing a video to gain access to the video settings located in the transport bar at the top of the screen. On the line that is titled “Interlace Handling” set it to De-interlace.
I experienced some audio sync issues with some .m2ts files that play fine in Media Player Classic. I had to put a 3.063 second delay in to get sync. Easy enough by using the transport menu audio settings, but it is not a very good solution. So after some digging in the XBMC.org wiki I found where they allow a user to link in another player based on various criteria. Since most of the files that were problematic had a .m2ts extension, I had XBMC play all of those file types in Media Player Classic Home Cinema. All other file types still play in the XBMC player. The instructions for doing this is located here: How to use an external player.
The wiki instructions are a bit cryptic as to where the log files and, if needed, playercorefactory.xml file. The easiest way to find where XBMC locates these files is to set the debugger on. The file location for the log will be at the top of the screen. The location for the special playercorefactory.xml will also be here for Vista and W7, but will be in the userdata subfolder of this location for XP.
I used the remote that is shown to the left. It is mostly just plug and play. I used the remote to teach my URC MX-900 so that when I selected the HTPC it would also have control over the software. What is very nice about this remote is it is also compatible with Windows Media Player, PowerDVD, Media Center Classic HC and other Windows programs in addition to XBMC right out of the box.
A couple of nice things about this remote as opposed to using one of the standard media center remotes, like the HP MCE remote, is this remote has a mouse function and some special buttons that can be mapped to provide extra functions. I used one to launch XBMC for example. Another I used to close the current window whic allows me to exit XBMC or PowerDVD (or any external player) to return to XBMC. This make the entire HTPC operation very wife frendly.