XBMC Media Server Review

Completely Free

This week TopNetTricks looks at the XBMC media server. XBMC is great at what it does and since it has been around for a long time there are many plugins for it. Another great thing about XBMC is that it is open source code which makes it completely free, including all the enhanced features. Since it has so many plugins and features it has a lot of configuration options and may be a bit challenging for those who want a simple no-fuss media server. XBMC can be downloaded here.

More Free DLNA Media Servers

For a complete list of free media server software for Windows and reviews see Top Free Windows DLNA Media Server Downloads.

XBMC Media Server Review

It can be used as a media server but XBMC has limited DLNA/UPnP support. My DLNA player had no problem finding the XBMC media server, browsing, and playing its content. Where it falls short is on the transcoding side. Transcoding occurs when your media file is of a type that the player cannot play. The server will transcode the streaming media to a format that the player supports. This is very useful when the player has limited support for different file types such as an Android tablet. The following was found on their website about transcoding:

  • XBMC has some support for this, and more is planned for the future. Normally XBMC is meant to be run on a computer/supported-device that is directly connected to the TV by a video cable.
  • Some files can be shared from XBMC using the built-in UPnP server and files scanned into the Video library. XBMC will not currently transcode any files, so only file formats that your TV/device can natively playback will work. This will only work with video (so you won’t see XBMC’s GUI) and currently does not work with add-on content.

Note that the rating given here is for XBMC as DLNA/UPnP media server. Its score as a home theater device would be much higher.

XBMC was originally developed for the XBox

It was designed as a Media Center. Later it was ported to other operating systems such as Windows. Like all Media Centers, it is meant to be used on a PC that is directly attached to a TV through an HDMI cable, or VGA, or component video. When using the XBMC media center the operating system is hidden; Windows is not seen. The menus are big and can easily read on a TV at quite a distance. It makes for an ideal home theater. But it means that you need to have a PC permanently attached to a TV and it can’t really be used for anything else. This article is an XBMC media server review.


Installation is straight forward. Like all other media servers the most complicated part is configuring the media folders.

TopNetTricks XBMC media server review installation screen


When the installation is completed the XBMC screen looks like this:
TopNetTricks XBMC media server review home theater screen
The installation options can get a bit complex:
TopNetTricks XBMC Media Server review Options

Learn more about how video file types and how much bandwidth you need to support them: Video File Formats for Media Servers and Players.

Free DLNA Media Server Downloads

For a complete list of free media server software for Windows and reviews see  How to Use Windows Media Player as a DLNA Media Server and Top Free Windows DLNA Media Server Downloads.

To know if your home network is media ready read these posts: How to build a high-speed media network and How to test the speed of your home network.

Andre Roberge
Review Date
Reviewed Item
XBMC media server
Author Rating
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  1. says

    XBMC is a great program. I use a SkystreamX Android Box that came preloaded with all of the good XBMC Add Ons. It was simply plug and play. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to cut there cable and start watching free TV.

    Android TV Box

    • Andre Roberge says

      It is great. The reason I docked it is because its really a media center that doubles as a media server. You pretty well need a dedicated PC for it.

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