I'm a newbie also, and was not interested in new dashboards etc. Just wanted to play back-ups like you. Here's what I did.
Bought a matrix no solder chip. (would probably go with Chameleon now).
Flashed it with the supplied programmer with evoxd6.blue bios.
Installed in Xbox.
Swhitch to always on mode.
Boot up xbox and verified blue X.
That's it. I have never had a problem playing a back-up copy.
You don't really need a dashboard, emulators etc unless you really want to get involed in the mod scene.
Hope this helps.