How to set up a Raspberry Pi media centre

5. Select wireless

Raspberry Pi XMBC bundle wireless configuration

This is a handy time to mention USB wireless adaptors - the one failing of the instructions. This omission is a shame, because XMBC comes with a configuration tool built in, if you know it's there.

To configure a wireless adaptor you need to select the 'Programs > Raspbmc Settings' tool. It has a 'Networking' section where you can switch from 'Wired' to 'Wireless', then set the SSID name of your wireless network and add the password alongside, selecting the correct encryption.

6. Adding a media source

Raspberry Pi XMBC bundle - adding media source

XMBC works best if it can link to a network share, UPnP device, NAS or attached media drive. If you add this as a source, it'll automatically create a linked library to whatever TV, film, music and images it finds in there. Select 'Video > Files > Add Videos'... and use 'Browse' to choose the source folder. You can add multiple sources from different places.

7. Performance

Raspberry Pi XMBC bundle - testing performance

Our passing play with Raspbmc showed it happily handling HD content when played off USB storage. This included 1080p video with DTS audio, which is impressive for such a device.

Less impressive was wireless performance, which played 720p YouTube streams, but failed any of our HD content - even basic 720p h.264 clips. We'd suspect the actual wireless connection, but this was in an environment where other device happily streamed the same content.

Streaming SD content worked a treat. A VC-1 hardware decoder codec is available for just £1.20, and this supports any Blu-ray-based content.

8. Create your own Raspberry Pi XMBC

XMBC project's compatible Raspberry Pi builds list

You can and may want to create your own SD-booting XMBC OS. The XMBC project maintains a list of compatible Raspberry Pi builds on its wiki. The version bundled with this pack is from Rasbmc and it's supplied as a single download file, which you extract and install to your SD card. It's no more complex than that with installers available for PC and Mac.