Because my Apple TV 3 is still waiting for a jailbreak so it can run XBMC (without a jailbreak it's useless imho) I decided to order a Raspberry Pi. For those who doesn't know what a Raspberry Pi is;
The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming.
Okay, I'm not interested in programming and not a kid anymore, but this part took my attention;
It also plays high-definition video.
So how can a $35 'pc' play 1080p high-def video? This is achieved by the Broadcom SoC (System on a Chip) which is able to hardware decode h264 media. You can connect your TV set by using the HDMI interface and it has a 100 mbit NIC for the network connections (optional you can use a USB WiFi adapter).
So I ordered the Pi and and few days later it drops at my doorstep;
The Raspberry Pi is shipped without storage or a power supply, for storage you need a SD-card (4GB is more than enough) and the power comes from a 5V 700mA mobile phone charger (with a micro USB connector).
So now we have to install some sort of operation system on the Pi, the main goal for me is to run the XMBC media center. There're 3 different options to chose from;
I've decided to go for RaspBMC, the installation of RaspBMC is really user friendly and the OS is self updating.
At the RaspBMC website you can download an installer (for Windows, Linux or Mac OS X) and install RaspBMC directly on your SD-card. I'm using Windows so here's a screenshot of the installer;
Your SD card should be shown on the list. Simply check the checkbox and click Install to complete the installation. Note, if you have not inserted your card yet, you can do so now and click Refresh to update the devices list.
When the image is downloaded and transferred to you SD card you can put it in your Raspberry Pi, connect all the cables and fire it up. On the first boot RaspBMC will be installed. So take a cup of coffee and when you're back XBMC will be presented to you!
So XMBC is running, lets see how it performs when we playback a 1080p h.264 video (you might seen this video before...)
As you expect the $35 Pi doesn't come with a IR remote, so how do you control it? Well you have 2 options. Option one is to control XBMC with the remote from your TV-set. This is achieved by the integrated CEC software delivered by RaspBMC, this will enable XBMC control with your (compatible) TV-set IR remote. The other option is to control XBMC with the 'Official XBMC Remote' app on your smartphone or tablet. You can download the app from the Apple AppStore or Google Play.