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Sunday, 8 February 2015

Time for Kodi Helix, time for a new skin?–Part3

In part three we will be looking at the TV Shows library, weather area and some of the other areas of the 1080XF skin.

TV Shows main menu

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TV Shows library – Banner View

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TV Show Information Page

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TV Show with only one season, episodes in the Info List view

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TV Show with multiple seasons in Thumbnail view

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TV Shows Library – List view

The default list view also shows banner images which is quite nice.

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TV Shows Library – Info List view

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TV Show Library – Panel view

The titles in the panel view scroll left –> right rather than up / down.

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TV Show Library – Landscape view

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TV Show Library – Poster view

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TV Show Library – Thumbnail view

Titles in the thumbnail view scroll up / down.

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TV Show Library – Fanart view

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TV Shows – Sub-menu (customised).

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TV Guide is driven by the TV Show Next Aired Kodi add-on and displays currently airing episodes based on the TV Shows that are in your library. Pretty useful for seeing when new episodes for your favourite shows will be airing.

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TV Show Library – Genres

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Music main menu

By default the panel widget in the middle shows Featured Albums I believe, I changed mine to display new Albums instead. I also added three custom tiles for Music Videos / Youtube / Vevo.

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The default “Music” tile takes you to this area, where you can then select Music Genres / Artists / Albums etc.

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Music Videos (Concerts) - Titles

By default there didn’t appear to be an easy way to get to this area of the UI so I added a custom tile on the Music main menu to point to it using a favourite.

There are only two basic views you can use for Music Videos which is disappointing, these are List and Thumbnail as you can see in the screen shot below.

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Music Video – Information Page

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Music menu sub-menu (Customised)

I customised the sub-menu and added “Recently Played” and “Recently Added” rather than “Songs” and “Years”.

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Music Library – Genres

I had to manually download the missing genre icons to cover all the genres in my music library. I used this website here as the icons there match the icons the skin is using. I also had to find some missing TV Show genre icons as well.

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Music Library – Artists

I’ve got the Artists in Thumbnail view here.

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Artist Information Page (Biography)

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Artist Information Page (Discography)

This is very nice to be able to see the music artists full discography.

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Music Library – Albums

With a large music library the only sensible choice for the view is the Thumbnail view

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Album Information Page

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Album Tracks – List view

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Music Playback – Fullscreen mode

In the skin settings I am using the Artist SlideShow add-on for the music playback full screen mode. You can’t unfortunately also have the music visualization showing as well, when using the Artist SlideShow add-on option which is a real shame.

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Music Playback - OSD Menu

On the menu you can select: Playlist / Shuffle  /Repeat / Transport Controls / Lyrics Options. Not sure what the three icons on the right hand side are for? as they are greyed out.

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Weather main menu

The weather is driven by the OpenWeatherMap Extended add-on I had to install this add-on from the Kodi repo and add my location in to its settings.

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I also had to download a massive weather image pack from bit-torrent instructions for this and how to enable it can be seen on the first post of this thread here. Once setup if its raining you see images with rain, if its sunny you see images that are sunny etc.

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In the middle section you can scroll through the 10 days of weather forecast. The weather area in this skin looks really nice and is well laid out.

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Other areas of the skin

Settings

In here you can access the Kodi and Skin settings etc.

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Skin Settings

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Applications menu – in this area you have six custom tiles, I have populated mine mainly with shortcuts to my IP security cameras as you can see.
We also have the default tiles of Applications / Games / Pictures / Program Add-ons.

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Power Menu

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Search main menu

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Summary

The 1080XF Skin is certainly a very nice modern clean looking skin. After using Aeon MQ5 for so long, I thought I’d really miss all of its functionality and customization options, but so far after using this skin for a week or so on all of our newly updated Kodi HTPC’s around the house, I am really liking 1080XF. Sure I would like to see more in-built customization features in the skin settings like the ability to change the sub-menus more easily without having to edit XML files but the customization options which are present, like adding the custom tiles to the home menus is simple and easy to do.

The choice of library views is nice and there are some beautiful ones, I’ve had some issues with Video add-ons however like ITV Player and Disclose.tv not keeping the global view I’d like them to have and they are defaulting back to List view each time, not sure if this is a Kodi or skin issue? Also I’d like to see some more views available for the Music Videos area. But overall 1080XF does not disappoint in the main Kodi library areas.

The Artwork Downloader add-on integration I felt was weak and as I rely on that add-on heavily to get all my artwork files this was a bit of a let down, however the developer is said to be improving this so hopefully it won’t be an issue in the future. The panel widgets on the home menus are great and I like that they can show trending movies and shows and when you click on them a trailer plays. One request here would be for the music panel widget to show recently played albums rather than most played albums, I can’t seem to change this?

Overall the 1080XF Skin is well made and well laid out and if you are updating XBMC to Kodi and looking for a fresh new skin then I’d highly recommend 1080XF and I think I will be sticking with it for some time now.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Time for Kodi Helix, time for a new skin?–Part2

Part one can be seen here, which covered the top level menus, in part two we will delve a bit deeper in to the user interface of the 1080XF Kodi skin and have a good look around.

Live TV main menu

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TV Channels

I like the little progress indicators under each channel, so you can get a rough idea how much longer is left for that show to run.

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TV Channel – Information

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One thing I’ve noticed and I am not sure if this is a Kodi or skin issue, is when starting to play a TV Channel its not always automatically brought up to full screen, I have to press the full screen button on the Harmony Universal remote control or press back a few times to put it in to full screen mode.

TV Channel Playback / Guide Overlay

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TV Channel Playback / Information

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TV Channel Playback / OSD Menu

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OSD Menu – Channel schedule

If you select the highlighted button on the OSD menu it the brings up programs that are airing on the channel you are currently watching

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Also on the OSD menu are settings for Audio / Video the Record button and some transport control buttons.

Radio Channels

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EPG (Guide Timeline)

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TV Recordings

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Home main menu

On the home menu there are default tiles for New Movies and New Shows and two widget panels.

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The widgets on the main menus are driven by the ExtendedInfo Script add-on, this is not automatically installed with the skin I don’t think, so you need to ensure its installed.

In the Skin settings under Home –> Manage Custom Home Widgets - you can change what the widgets will display such as:

trending movies / trending shows / playlist / spotlight / upcoming movies / in theatres now / popular movies / top rated movies

When changing the widgets function you may need to exit from Kodi and restart it to get them populating.

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New Movies – Landscape View

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New Shows – Info List View

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Movies main menu

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Movies Library – Thumbnail View

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Movies Library – List View

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Movies Library – Info List View

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Movies Library – Panel View

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Movies Library – Poster View

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Movies Library – Banner View

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Movies Library – Fanart View

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Movie Information Page

There seems to be a bug with missing Aspect Ratio icons / flags as on some titles it does not get displayed, but I believe its on the list to be fixed.

In this screen shot the video format flag is missing, because this particular title is a Blu-ray ISO? I need to check that out.

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Moving left reveals the poster

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The Choose Art option was pretty crippled but I’ve convinced the developer to add more Artwork Downloader add-on options to run it in Solo mode and full GUI mode, these as yet have not been implemented.

In this screen shot you can see I have added myself the option to run Artwork Downloader in Solo mode as I changed the skins code.

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The final release version will look more like this however, where Manual mode is GUI mode and Background mode is SOLO mode in Artwork Downloader.

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Movie Playback - Information

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Movie Playback – OSD Menu

On the OSD menu there are buttons for Audio / Video Settings, Subtitles, transport controls, info and bookmarks.

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In part three we will be looking at the TV Shows and Music libraries and Weather areas.