XBMC has a prominent role in my home, and for the last couple of years I’ve been running XBMC on jailbroken 2nd generation Apple TVs. For a while it worked well, but I was really pushing the little black boxes and with each successive Apple and XBMC update they’ve become slower and less stable. Browsing media was sluggish and the Apple TVs could only output 720p. It was time for an upgrade.
What was so great about the Apple TV is that it was small, silent, and power efficient. I wanted to maintain those aspects. My XBMC content is stored on server in a closet, and that server hosts my XBMC MySQL database. Which means I don’t need local storage, but network connectivity is important since everything is streamed from the server. I wanted something that could output 1080p so I could use the full resolution of the Panasonic Viera ST60 in my living room. Finally, I wanted it to cost less than what I could get from selling my jailbroken Apple TVs.
I sold the AppleTVs on Amazon, and after they took their cut I had $320 to buy two new systems. For the living room I decided on an Intel NUC. It’s a small barebones kit quiet and power efficient. The Celeron model costs $165. With 4GB of RAM, a power cord, and a 16GB USB drive the total cost of the Intel NUC was $213. With $107 left I bought a Pivos Xios DS for the bedroom. Pivos is a sponsor of the XBMC project, and from what I’ve read on the XBMC forums, it’s a lot better as an XBMC appliance than the AppleTV 2. Since the Xios DS cost $100, I made $7 from replacing my ATV2s.