XBox 360 and Mac – in harmony.

I have an XBox 360 I was given a couple of years ago on my birthday. Well strictly speaking that’s not true – my first XBox 360 suffered the dreaded ‘red ring of death’ so this is a replacement. Anyway, the main thing is that as a gamer I’m hopeless, so the XBox’s main duty is as a media extender. Previously I used Windows Media Player so I could listen to my mp3’s on the stereo in the lounge via the XBox and that was pretty much it. Now that I’m using the Mac more and more, the inevitable question was “Can I hook the XBox up with the Mac”?

Absolutely you can, and my choice was Connect360 from Nullriver. Now if you’ve ever set up sharing using Windows Media Player on the PC, you’re about to find out that yet again it’s easier on the Mac. No running around typing codes from the XBox into the PC because getting Connect360 working is simplicity itself. Connect360 installs as a ‘prefpane’ meaning that you access it’s controls via System Preferences undert the ‘Other’ section.

On opening it you’re greeted with a Status page from where you can stop and start the sharing service, and see what’s being shared. Clicking the settings button will provide you with five tabs where you can change setting for general stuff, iTunes, Movies and iPhoto as well as restricting access to certain IP addresses or ranges. All nicely laid out and all very intuitive. Of course for music and photos it does require that you actually use iTunes and iPhoto, but that’s a given for so may Mac users these days. For movies you just place your movie files in your Documents/Movies folder and Connect360 shares them.

The type of movie files supported is actually down to the XBox Team and what codecs are built-in or available for the XBox (you can find a list here). I’m no expert on video codecs but I had some TV shows in .avi format and they played perfectly. Access from the XBox is also really easy, just chose the type of media you want to play, press the ‘X’ button to change the media source, then choose your Mac from the list.

Another really nice feature is the ability to redirect Internet radio to your XBox via Connect360. I listen to a variety of Internet radio stations including the Buzzoutroom, DI.FM and Soma Radio. I have all three in iTunes grouped together under a playlist called Chill Radio. All I do on the XBox is choose to play music then browse to my playlists where I can see Chill Radio. I open the playlist, pick the station I want to listen to and there I am – falling asleep on the sofa to the soothing sounds of the web.

I hadn’t even got round to showing off photos on the XBox, before I’d decided to divvy up the $20 registration fee (the only limitation around the un-registered version is the number of songs you can load up).

Back on the subject of music and iTunes, I still haven’t found the ideal replacement(s) for managing and playing music on the Mac, but for now iTunes gets the job done so it’s no real problem having it there to support stuff like Connect360. Obviously the same caveats apply when tagging your music to play on the XBox, which reminds me – I’m about due to have another look at Jaikoz as there’s a newer version out (released July 14th 2008). No rest for the wicked!

One Response

  1. Good posting, thanks a lot!

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