Yesterday the Raspberry Pi arrived and I didn't have a chance to play with it. That means today that's all I'm going to do.
The first project I have in mind for this little credit card size computer is to turn it into a media center. I'm not saying this is a permanent thing, but it's certainly the easiest and most obvious first use. 
So I downloaded the popular Xbox Media Center (XBMC) flavor for the Raspberry Pi (called Raspbmc) and loaded it onto an SD card (which is the small black thing sticking out to the left in all of the photos).
The actual setup of the Raspberry Pi is pretty easy - just plug it in. So I hooked up everything (HDMI, ethernet, keyboard, mouse, power) and let it do it's thing.
The first step after powering the board on was to update the software through the network. After about 15 minutes or so the update and install completed and I was looking at Raspbmc.
Now, it's been several years since I've used any version of XBMC (not since playing with my original Xbox, actually) and it has only gotten better. Some awesome features right off the bat are

Networking with Windows (SMB) - Good ole Samba! This is more or less a given but it's still wonderful when the network setup goes easier than expected. Windows 7 isn't the friendliest when networking with non-windows 7 devices, but after a quick tweak I was able to stream music and video across the network. 

NOTE: I did run into a buffering issue with some video files. I'm guessing a settings tweak will resolve the issue but I haven't tried it yet. 

USB Drives - another given but wonderful nonetheless. I popped in a flash drive and it played files seamlessly. 

Airplay - This is really nice. I can mirror photos, music and videos from my iPad to my TV

Note: this is as long nothing is being streamed from the Google Youtube app. The web browser and iOS 5 YouTube app work just fine. 

So, a $35 device that does what I just use the Apple TV for? I'm cool with that. 

Add-Ons - Or what some people would now think of as "apps" or "channels." Essentially you can download things like an Al Jazeera channel, CBS news, YouTube, etc. There are a host of options in both audio and video to download, however your most popular items (Pandora, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Video) are nowhere to be seen. There are a host of reasons for why they are not available which range from the ability of the actual Raspberry Pi (x86 processor vs ARM which is what the Raspberry Pi is) to the fact that Linux is just not as heavily supported by those developers as other environments. 

Since I have both a Roku and an Apple TV, I'm pretty well covered for streaming services. So while it would be nice if the Raspbmc had Neflix/Hulu/Amazon Video capabilties, it's not a deal breaker. But if someone was looking to use a Raspberry Pi to stream these services, they'd be out of luck. I'd recommend a cheap Roku.

PVR/DVR - admittedly this isn't something I've messed with, but the potential is now there and that's a big deal. I'm definitely going to pursue this and see what can be accomplished, just to have tried it. 
These are just a few of the features that Rasbmc has to offer. I didn't even scratch the surface while I was messing around today. I barely even used the web browser remote you can log in to and control the device with (ex if you were sitting across the room with an iPad or smart phone). 

I'll have to spend some time tweaking this and getting everything set just the way I want it.


Post a Comment