XBMC has been a popular free media center since the days of the modded first generation XBox. Enthusiasts would purchase a mod chip and whip out their soldering iron and unlock the full capabilities of their precious XBox. XBMC has come along way in the past 10 years and is now much more accessible to the average Joe and these days you don't even need an XBox. The moderately experienced do-it-yourselfer can have fully functional XBMC server running in a few hours, check out the guide here. The allure to having a Media Center is the ability to access all of your media from your TV, however, the setback was always the remote. Until now. As of yesterday the XBMC remote is now available for download from the Market and you can fully control your media content on your TV from your phone.
Media servers are growing in popularity coming pre-installed on certain flavors Windows 7 as well as being available with Windows MediaPlayer. TVersity is another popular server that runs on any windows machine. The difference between Windows MediaPlayer, Tversity and a stand alone Media Server such as XBMC, is that you need to have a DNLA compliant console like the PS3 or XBox in order to stream your media. XBMC can run on a cheep nettop like the Acer AspireRevo and sit quietly with the rest of your A/V components. XBMC hobbyists treat their installations as a labor of love. If you would prefer to unpackage a device, plug it in and press play, you'd better wait for googleTV or AppleTV to be released in the coming months. For those of you with a stronger stomach and a little know how, XBMC is the way to go and will not disappoint.