Truely impressive and awesomely easy – xbmc on a raspberry pi (using raspbmc)

Since my old xbmc running media centre pc broke and I had to get a replacement, I recently bought a raspberry pi. For those who haven’t heard of that: It’s a computer as small as a tissue pack that only costs like 30 Euros which – according to many many people on the internet and also my colleagues at work – is capable of playing HD video. Honestly, I didn’t believe it, but for 30 bucks? Let’s try and see …

So this is what you get when you order one:

You will also want some sort of case, an SD memory card (or a USB stick), wired or wireless internet connectivity and a micro USB power supply. Then you can hook the thing up to any HDMI device, plug in a USB keyboard and you’re good to go.

There are a number of possibilities to get xbmc running on your pi, I decided to try raspbmc. And installing it really was as easy as described on that website …

  1. Put the SD card into your computer
  2. Run the python script
  3. Put the SD card into the pi
  4. Connect the pi to a screen
  5. Power on the pi
  6. Wait
  7. Done

The entire process took about 2 hours, most of which due to my slowish old SD card and low bandwidth internet connection.

So the main question is: Can it play 1080p videos? Yep! It truely can and I am honestly impressed by how easy it was, how well everything worked and how seamlessly the thing integrated. It can even take remote control commands from my 5 year old Samsung TV via CEC (which by the way … my expensive panasonic blu ray player failed to …). That’s just truely awesome. It takes less than a minute to boot up, does not make any noise since there are no moving parts, consumes only something around 4 watts and is so small and light. Wow!

Cost break down:

  • 35 for the pi
  • 7 for the case
  • 7 for the power supply
  • 12 for the wifi connector

That’s 61 bucks in total for fully replacing a device for more than 300 (bought in 2011). Nice one!

Here’s a demo of the system (not my video):

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