5 Awesome XBMC Skins Plus One Bonus Tip

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5 Awesome XBMC Skins Plus One Bonus Tip

Custom skins allow you to change the look of your media center to fit your personality and sense of style. It is probably impossible to identify the best XBMC skin, since it depends on your specific preferences, demands and wishes, but these 5 awesome XBMC skins will make your media center interface look more beautiful than ever before.

You will also learn a useful bonus tip at the end of the article that will help you to discover new unofficial skins and add-ons.

*** This post has been updated on February 22nd 2014 with the latest and greatest skins. ***

Aeon MQ5

Aeon MQ5

Available on the default repository.

Aeon MQ5 is a very stylish skin that is perfect for anyone who enjoys tweaking and customizing their user interface.

You can add new menus and submenus, which is a great way to integrate your favorite addons to the main menu. It also includes PVR support.

While the Aeon MQ5 feels lighter and faster than previous versions, you will still need more powerful custom HTPC to run this skin smoothly.

I like to use this skin with my Windows-based Performance HTPC builds, since it allows me to launch games and other applications smoothly and quickly.

Customization tips for Aeon MQ5

Aeon_MQ5_Furniture2 Move the furniture around
Settings > Skin Settings > Furniture
Click “Main Menu” or “Widgets” to change the
position on the screen.
Aeon_MQ5_Themes Change the look with themes
Settings > Skin Settings > Themes
Select “Get or Update Extrapack” and wait
until download is completed. Then, enable
any other theme such as “Modern Images”.
Aeon_MQ5_Customize_Main_Menu Add favourites to main menu
Settings > Skin Settings > Main Menu >
Customize Main Menu

Select the first empty item and select “Replace
this menu with…” and “Choose Favourite”
from the right hand side.
Aeon_MQ5_Activate_Views Activate 3D wall view (and more)
Movies > Press 2 x “Left Arrow” key >
Press “Up Arrow” key 2 x

Activate the views, such as “3D Wall”, that
you need by clicking the enable button.
Press the “Right Arrow” key to select a view.

 

Aeon Nox

Aeon_Nox

Available on the default repository.

Aeon Nox is quite similar to the MQ5, but has several unique features that its cousin does not. According to my experience, Aeon Nox is a bit more lightweight when compared to the MQ5, so it is more suitable for slower computers.

In addition to the customization and PVR support, Nox stands out because it is eye candy. It has beautiful backdrop images, so your family and friends will definitely be impressed by it. I currently use this skin with the Budget HTPC build and with the OpenELEC Linux operating system.

Customization tips for Aeon Nox

Aeon_NOX_Furniture Move the furniture around
System > Skin > Customizers >
Customize Home window furniture

Click on the furniture and toggle menu position
or change the main menu style.
Aeon_NOX_Customize_Main_Menu Add favourites to main menu
System > Skin > Customizers >
Main menu item customizer

Unselect “Disable”. Select “Show name”
and then “Favourite” and locate
your favorite add-on or folder.
Aeon_NOX_Activate_Views Activate Showcase view (and more)
Movies > Press the “Left Arrow” key 2 x >
Press “Enter” key to activate views

such as the “Showcase” view. Press the
“Right Arrow” key 2 x to return.

 

Bello

Bello

Available on the default repository.

Bello is a fast, unique looking interface that is perfect for lightweight front-end systems such as the Ouya game console or Raspberry Pi.

Bello skin has a very nice background animation in the home menu that you can enable from Settings > Skin > Settings > Home Window > Enable Home Menu Animation.

I currently use this skin with my Ouya game console.

Customization tips for Bello

Bello_Hide_Menu Hide Home Menu Buttons
Settings > Skin > Settings > Home Menu
Click e.g. “Hide Programs Button” to make
Programs menu invisible in the home menu.
Bello_Customize_Main_Menu Add favourites to main menu
Settings > Skin > Settings > Home Menu
Scroll down & click “Custom Button 1″ and
select your favourite add-on or media source.
Bello_Activate_Views Activate VideoWall view (and more)
Settings > Skin > Settings > Views
Disable the views that you don’t need.
Movies > Press “Up Arrow” key >
Press “Enter” key
to change views such as the
“VideoWall Fanart” view.

 

SiO2

SiO2

Available on the default repository.

If you like the Apple TV style screen with easy access to all your favorite content, then SiO2 is the perfect choice for you. Its user interface looks very similar to Apple TV.

Si02 provides a very responsive and Apple-ish user experience.

I like to use this skin with my Raspberry Pi, as I can easily access all of add-ons and favourites from the main screen. This skin is also quite fast on Raspberry Pi.

Customization tips for SiO2

SiO2_Hide_Menu Hide Home Menu Buttons
Settings > Skin Settings > Home Page
Customizer

Click, for example, “Add-ons” to make the Add-ons
menu invisible in the home menu.
SiO2_Customize_Main_Menu Add favourites to main menu
Settings > Skin Settings > Home Page
Customizer

Select first empty +Favorites item and select
your favourite add-on or media folder.
SiO2_Activate_Views Change media views
Movies > Press “Left Arrow” key >
Press “Enter” key
to change the view
to for example “View: Icons”.

 

Xperience 1080

Xperience_1080

Available on the default repository.

Xperience 1080 has quite a different look and feel when compared to the other skins. It started purely as a 1080p modification of the original Xperience skin, but it has evolved over time.

The graphics are high quality and smooth animations make the overall user experience very pleasant.

I am currently testing this skin with my Windows-based Value HTPC build and I really like how stylish it looks and feels.

Customization tips for Xperience 1080

Xperience_Hide_Menu Hide Home Menu Buttons
Settings > Skin > Home >
Manage Categories

Click, for example, “Applications” to make the
applications menu invisible.
Xperience_Customize_Main_Menu Add favourites to main menu
Settings > Skin > Home >
Manage custom home items

To change, for example, the home tile,
select Hometile 1 and change type to
“Favourite”, then locate your favourite
by selecting “Path” at the bottom of
the screen.
Xperience_Activate_Views Change media views
Movies > Press “Left Arrow” key >
Press “Enter” key to select “View”

Select the preferred view such as “Thumbnail”
and confirm by pressing the “Enter” key.

 

Bonus Tip: Repositories Installer

XBMC’s add-ons can be downloaded and installed from places called repositories. The default repository comes built-in to XBMC, but if you want to install more user developed add-ons, you need to install unofficial repos.

The easiest way to find and install unofficial repositories is with the Repositories Installer plugin. Download the plugin here and follow these steps.

1. In XBMC, go to System > Add-Ons > Install from ZIP File
2. Locate the folder for the plugin.program.repo.installer-1.0.5.zip and click OK
3. Go to Programs menu and launch Repositories Installer plugin

Summary

Let’s summarize this post by comparing some of the key features of these 5 awesome skins.

MQ5 NOX Bello SiO2 X1080
Custom home
items
Custom
submenu
items
Custom
themes
Custom menu
colors
Home menu
widgets
Live TV

 

So, which one is the best? It is entirely up to you, because, as always, it really depends on what kind of HTPC you use and how you consume your media files.

If you use Raspberry Pi, then Bello or SiO2 are good choices since they are lightweight enough to run smoothly on RPi.

If you have a custom HTPC and like to customize every detail of your user interface, then Aeon MQ5 might be the best choice.

What’s Next

Now that you have made your media center interface even more beautiful and customized to your preferences, be sure to continue reading about the top 10 XBMC add-ons to get the most out of your HTPC.

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