As we've covered already, the Xbox 360 is a powerhouse media machine
. But its dependency on Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center doesn't provide a clear path to one of the most popular trends online today: How do you listen to your favorite podcasts on your Xbox 360? There is nothing better than slaughtering your pals online while you catch up with NPR's Story of the Day. And kicking off the week with an episode of TWiT to accompany your Monday night XBL football league is a welcome replacement for repetitive announcers. Of course, we'd be very happy if you started out your weekend of Xbox devotion while listening to the latest gaming news, reviews and previews from the GamesFirst! Weekly Wrap-Up. So for all these reasons and more, let's figure out how to get those podcasts on the Xbox 360.
We're taking this from a non-Windows Media Center Edition point of view. If you don't know the difference, then go read our article about getting the full Xbox 360 media Experience
. This method should work just fine for users with a Windows Media Center Edition PC in the house as well. These steps should happen on your media serving PC.Step One: Get a Podcatcher
Are you asking yourself, "What's a Podcast?" Then you should back up and start out at a good, general podcast resource, such as this handy Wikipedia page
Since version 4.9, iTunes has supported podcasts. You can sign up to the podcasts through the iTunes Music Store, and iTunes will help you sync podcasts to your iPod as well as manage podcasts and automatically check for updates. If you already use iTunes, then go ahead and keep using it. If you have read our article about setting up your Xbox 360 for an optimal media experience
, then you should be good to go.
If you don't have iTunes already, then there's no reason to "switch" right now. Just hop over to iPodder.org and grab a copy of the latest version of iPodder
. This is a handy little program known as a "podcatcher." A podcatcher program grabs podcasts from the Web, and iPodder is one of the originals and one of the best (screen
). It's a little, tiny program that offers even more useful features than iTunes. Configure iPodder to place your podcasts in a directory within your music library for ultimate ease. If you prefer to keep your podcasts segregated from your regular music library, just make a folder anywhere you will remember.
If using iPodder, you'll definitely want to schedule (screen
) when the program checks for updates, and for ease of use and maintenances, you might also want to configure how long to keep each episode around before deleting. Some podcasts (such as This Week in Tech, aka TWiT) are quite large files and will build up after awhile. Especially daily hour-long programs.Step Two: Subscribe to a Podcast
For the sake of example, we'll use our podcast, the GamesFirst! Weekly Wrap-Up. If you notice, on every episode, there is a "Subscribe to the Podcast" link, which points to http://gamefirst.com/gfPodcast.php
. This is the address you would enter into iPodder to subscribe to our podcast. If you are using iTunes, you can find podcasts by browsing to the Podcasts section of iTunes Music Store. Or you can just do a search for GamesFirst and we'll show up in your results. There is also a handy podcast directory in iPodder, which is one of the largest listings of podcasts out there. It pulls listings from many different podcast directories. Browse through the subjects to find something that sounds good, but be aware that randomly picking podcasts is not necessarily the best way to find the good ones. Check out sites like PodcastAlley
, or Odeo
for plenty of good recommendations and user reviews. Step Three: Add your podcast directory to Windows Media Connect
Don't have Windows Media Connect? Then you didn't read this
. But assuming you do have Windows Media Connect installed on your PC, be sure the directory where you're adding your podcasts is being shared (screen
). If you placed your podcasts in a subdirectory within your already-shared music directory, then you probably don't have to do this step. And if you are running a Windows Media Center Edition PC, then you should just be sure to put your podcast directory within your existing media library directories.
If you are running iTunes, then you have probably already added your iTunes Music Library directory to Windows Media Connect. Your podcasts will be stored in your iTunes Music Library, so you don't have to add another directory to Windows Media Connect.Step Four: Enjoy your podcasts on your Xbox.
Now that your podcasts are available through Windows Media Connect, and now that you have set up an automated management system for your podcasts, you just need to make sure your media serving PC is booted and running every day. Your podcatching program will do the work for you, keeping your podcast directory tidy and organized, and preventing it from taking up too much space. Of course, your PC will need to be running to serve media to your Xbox 360 anyway, so that shouldn't be much of an issue.
You can access your podcasts with the rest of the music on your media serving computer. Many podcast creators, including GamesFirst!, label their podcasts with the "podcast" genre, so try looking through your Genres list to find "podcast." That should provide a list of the latest podcasts received by your podcatcher program. Other podcasts (such as the many NPR podcasts) do not use this genre tag, so you'll have to look for them by their Titles. Here's hoping Xbox 360 will evenutally be updated to allow us to browse music by directory!
We hope this how-to gets you thinking about what else you might be able to do with the new media features of your Xbox 360. Drop us a line if you come up with any fun ideas: mailbag[AT]gamesfirst.com