XBOX 360: The little media center that couldn’t

I’ve had an XBOX 360 “Elite” (the one with the 120 GB hard drive) for a while now. Since the hard drive in my 360 is largely empty, I thought it might be nice to use the 360 as a media center. More specifically, I thought the 360 might be useful as a music center, since it’s got the ability to play mp3 files.

I’ve ripped all of the family’s CDs. It’s nice to be able to listen to anything in the music collection without going to the CD racks and searching. But listening to these music files on the stereo in the living room is a bit awkward. The DVD player will play mp3 files from CD, but that still means I have to shuffle discs around. Plus, the DVD player’s interface for doing this is clunky at best.

So why not use the 360? It’s got plenty of disk space for holding our music collection, and it’s already hooked into the stereo. Unfortunately, the 360 is a typical Microsoft product. By that, I mean it’s been hobbled – either accidentally or by design. How?

  • You can – albeit very slowly – rip audio CDs to the 360’s hard drive.
  • You can play mp3 files from a data CD.
  • You can plug an external hard drive into one of the 360’s USB ports and play the mp3 files on the drive.
  • You cannot transfer mp3 files from the external hard drive or a data CD to the 360’s internal hard drive***. If you put in an audio CD, there’s an option to copy the music to the hard drive. If you hook up an external drive or put in a CD with mp3 files on it, that option disappears. (What the f#%?)

I guess it’s all for the best. It’s rather difficult to hear quiet music over the roar of the 360’s jet-engine-like fans.

***If you can actually copy mp3 files to the 360’s internal hard drive and play them from there, clue me in on the method. In the meantime, there’s always my TVisto

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