My review of XBMC on Amazon’s Fire TV can be summed up easily, I’ve moved from my custom built HTPC to using a Fire TV for my day to day TV watching.

Commonly asked question I see about the Fire TV

  • It’s easy to install.
  • You don’t need to root the Fire TV
  • I have it plugged into a 5.1 surround system via HDMI. I didn’t have to go to any trouble to make it work.
  • I have about 3TB of media on an SMB share. My library is shared via MySQL. I had no problems getting this to work with the Fire TV. Navigating the library is just as snappy as my old HTPC.
  • The Fire TV will play a 1080p 5.1 surround sound movie without issue.
  • The Fire TV will play a 1080p MPEG-2 stream from a HDHomerun device without issue.
  • The Fire TV will play anĀ USTVNow stream without issue.
  • The default remote map isn’t good. There are much better keymaps out there.
  • I could not get it to work correctly with a FLIRC and a Harmony remote. (See Cons below)
  • You can side load emulators. Anything up the PS1/N64 generation works. Though you’ll want to root it so you can use storage devices other than the built-in. This is much, much easier than getting emulators to work on other XBMC hardware/operating systems.
  • XBOX 360 and PS3 controllers work.
  • It’s by far the easiest way to get Netflix, Amazon Prime, and XBMC all on the same box.

Pros for the Fire TV

  • It makes no noise
  • It doesn’t produce any heat
  • It’s small. I have it hidden behind a photo 5×6 frame on my entertainment center.
  • It’s cheap! The Fire TV is $100. I spent about $375 on my HTPC less than a year ago. I thought it was cheap at the time.
  • You don’t have to jack with it much to get XBMC going. No custom hardware to put together, no OS install, ect, ect.

Cons for the Fire TV

TL;DR

The Amazon Fire TV is the best hardware to run XBMC on.

I have a shared MySQL database library for the various XBMC installs I have. One of the reasons I purchased an Ouya was as a cheap replacement to an older XBMC box I had. Things got interesting when I tried to edit my advancedsettings.xml file on the Ouya. How to do it? There isn’t a text editor or SSH access. I had to copy the file from the Ouya to another PC, edit it with what I needed, and then copy it back.

Keep in mind that what I’m going to describe below will install XBMC version 13 on the Ouya. If the other installs around your house are not using version 13 this may mess up your database. I had version 12 installs and my DB was fine, good luck!

  1. Backup your XBMC database.
  2. Install XBMC for Ouya. This is a dead simple tutorial that worked for me.
  3. If you don’t have one already, create a shared folder on your PC. This is where we will put the advancedsettings.xml for editing.
  4. On the Ouya, launch XBMC. Go to Settings->Appearance->File Lists and pock mark ‘Show hidden files and directories’.
  5. Go back to the main XBMC menu, go to Settings and then File Manager
  6. Add two sources, one should be the shared folder on your PC, the other should the userdata XBMC folder on the Ouya.
  7. The XBMC folder on the Ouya is /sdcard/Android/data/org.xbmc.xbmc/files/.xbmc/userdata
  8. In the shared folder on your PC, make an advancedsettings.xml file. I just copied one from another XBMC install.
  9. Back on the Ouya, copy the advancedsettings.xml file into the userdata folder. Do this by highlighting the file, then pressing the Ouya button on the controller, then select copy from the menu that pops up.
  10. Exit and then restart the Ouya. You’re done.
Getting to the built in file manager

Getting to the built in file manager

Showing all files

Showing all files

Copying Files

Copying Files

 

 

From time to time, while browsing your XBMC library of files you may get the prompt, “Need to unpack a big file, continue?” This means XBMC has a large rar file it needs to open, so large that it may take a while/affect your system’s performance. Typically you can just answer yes and not have to worry about it again.

In my experience though you get this error when you have a corrupt or password protected rar. Answering yes gets you an endless loop of prompts, answering no will result in the prompt going away only to come back the next time you open your library.

What to do?

Via what ever method you have, go to your <xbmc_dir>/temp directory. In there will be the offending rar file, possibly in a directory called rartemp. Delete any rar files and any directory with rar in the name. Restart XBMC.

The next time you open your library you should be all good.

I use an SQL server for my library, sometimes I have to go an extra step and delete the file’s reference in my xbmc data. Look in myvideos->files and find the recent entry with rar:// in the strFilename column.