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Windows Media Center

Discussion in 'Windows & Other Software' started by alex24, 6 Jun 2010.

  1. alex24

    Capodecina

    Joined: 1 Jan 2008

    Posts: 10,847

    Who else uses this software on their HTPC?

    I'm running Windows 7 Home Premium and find it by far the best HTPC interface for TV, recording, movies, music and photos.

    There are numerous ways to improve WMC, from adding on-demand TV, to customising the interface.

    Since there's no particular main large thread for this at the present time, I thought I could start one for all the add-ons and customisations that are possible, updating the OP as it grows.

    I also have a question that prompted me to begin this thread: Is it possible to improve the picture quality? Live and recorded TV look quite bad in comparison to my TVs built in tuner, and the Microsoft video codec seems to receive absolutely no praise after having looked over the internet. I'm aware you can change the default codec to others, such as the Avivo codec for ATI cards, which does improve the picture significantly, but certain functions are lost, such as FF/RW, skipping and even the ability to watch Live TV, depending on how it's configured.

    There are a large amount of people here who have a HTPC, so I'm sure there's a vast amount of knowledge amongst all members.

    PS - Please no 'use mediaportal instead' posts, this thread is solely for WMC.

    Thanks guys for any input! Let me know what tools/programs/enhancements/customisations/hacks you're using!


    Customisation

    Media Browser - Browse films and TV shows using a variety of attractive interfaces (including the popular 'cover flow'). Freeware, Highly recommended.

    Media Center Studio - Completely customise the media center menu, add new items, reorder, change background and buttons etc. Recommended if you want to change the look of WMC, freeware. See here for some themes from OcUK members, many more available on the web too.

    My Channel Logos - A nice enhancement to the guide, picked up almost all the freeview channels automatically for me. More logos available here (freesat etc).

    My Movies 3 - A new interface for movies and also contains collection management abilities, including network based collections. Good software, lacks the visuals of media browser, but packs awesome functionality. Freeware with some advanced features unlocked using a points system.

    Movie Collector MCE - Manage your movie catalogue automatically with cover art, descriptions etc. Much like the above plugins, free trial available.



    Metadata management

    Metabrowser - Retrieve data for films and TV shows automatically, ideal partner to mediabrowser. v2 now paid for, older versions are free.

    Media Center Master - metadata collection and management, also suited to mediabrowser, but can be used for normal WMC too. Freeware.

    My movies collection management - Included with My Movies 3 (above) or available as a standalone package, visit the site for more info.

    Images By Name - Get actor images in Media browser. Go here for a quick guide of how to set it up.

    MediaInfo - Set up media info inside Media Broswer. Simple installation, read here.


    Playback

    DVBLink - Watch TV using networked TV tuners, ideal if you have more than one PC around the house.

    Shark007 Codec Pack - Allows a variety of formats to be played through WMC that weren't previously possible. Any input on configurations people have used with this pack would be appreciated, I'll update the info here for everyone's benefit.

    On demand TV

    Tuner-free MCE - Add on-demand TV to media center. Includes popular UK channels - iplayer, 4OD, ITVPlayer, DemandFive. Freeware, integration not always perfect, may need keyboard and mouse.

    NeverMiss.TV - add iplayer ITVPlayer, 4OD and DemandFive to WMC. Currently in beta, reported to integrate better than Tunerfree MCE.



    Other Plugins

    Heatwave - A slick weather plugin for MCE.

    MacroTube - View Youtube, Dailymotion and more videos in media center.

    My Trailers 2.0 - View movie trailers for new and upcoming movies in WMC, includes HD trailers. Small cost of $5.99. To download, click 'plugins' and scroll to the bottom.

    Twitter MCE - Ever wanted to tweet from your HTPC? Me neither, but you can now.

    Remind Me for MCE - Set up reminders to display in media center. Potentially quite useful if you're the type that gets lost in a good movie.

    MC7 Sleep timer - set your HTPC to go to sleep after a defined period.

    Refresh rate changer - possibly quite useful if you want to move between 24Hz and 50/60Hz on your HTPC.



    Useful Programs

    Remote Potato - Manage your recordings (series or otherwise) through a web interface. With a static IP, you can access and set recordings for your HTPC from anywhere! One of my favourite plugins, freeware. There is also limited support for streaming of your recorded TV over the net.
     
    Last edited: 3 Aug 2010
  2. Wossi

    Mobster

    Joined: 27 Oct 2003

    Posts: 4,996

    Location: East Mids.

    I've got mediabrowser installed on my W7 htpc and love it. Although I'm having a slight problem with it not decoding to 5.1 over optical for some reason. Yet if I play the file straight from explorer it's fine.
     
  3. vanandjuanunited

    Soldato

    Joined: 20 Oct 2005

    Posts: 5,724

    wmc with media portal here. Various plugins added. Does everything i need it to do

    Took a bit of fiddling to get all the images for my movies etc but its nearly there.
     
  4. alex24

    Capodecina

    Joined: 1 Jan 2008

    Posts: 10,847

    Updated the OP with a couple of bits, keep the recommendations flowing!
     
  5. Snow-Munki

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 10,054

    Location: At home

    Do you happen to have 64-bit OS ?

    As WMC will play using 64-bit codecs. Wheereas most likely explorer is just standard 32-bit
     
  6. swanseajack

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 24 Nov 2002

    Posts: 1,633

    Location: Abertawe, Cymru.

    http://www.hack7mc.com/hey-there

    Good site for WMC.

    Also WMC7 uses built in codecs called microsoft framework to stream live tv so you can't change them without breaking it.

    When you record freeview it is saved uncompressed, whilst 3rd party apps compress the recording, hence the different sizes in recordings.
     
  7. Columbo

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 26 Mar 2007

    Posts: 8,613

    Location: Nottinghamshire

    Excellent thread alex.

    I'm using WMC with Media Browser but I'll deffo check other options you've posted.

    Thanks.
     
  8. Participant

    Caporegime

    Joined: 13 May 2003

    Posts: 32,045

    Location: Warwickshire

    Until there's a way to stop the muting of WMC also muting your entire ****ing PC, then it can whistle for it :D.
     
  9. swanseajack

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 24 Nov 2002

    Posts: 1,633

    Location: Abertawe, Cymru.

    Oh and I use....

    Boxee

    Macrotube

    Nevermiss TV

    Heatwave

    :)
     
  10. jellybeard999

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 7 Feb 2004

    Posts: 7,800

    Location: NE

  11. Wossi

    Mobster

    Joined: 27 Oct 2003

    Posts: 4,996

    Location: East Mids.

    Yup, win7 64bit. Puzzling the hell out of me as everything I try doesn't work :(
     
  12. alex24

    Capodecina

    Joined: 1 Jan 2008

    Posts: 10,847

    Thanks, that is a good resource I've used in the past, and will probably link to here for certain customisations as I go through.

    It's a shame MS can't open up the codec choice a little, theirs is really poor. I've seen some guides to change default codecs, I'll add these soon to the OP.

    No problem, media browser is probably the best all round addition in my opinion, but I'll be adding a lot more to the OP, so there's plenty more to check out.

    As far as I know, you can't as it's tied into the system volume. Can I ask why this presents a problem for you?

    Thanks for all the suggestions, I've updated the OP again with most of them, I'll continue adding stuff as I come across it and receive more recommendations, so keep them coming guys!
     
  13. Beans on toast Dave

    Mobster

    Joined: 27 Mar 2004

    Posts: 4,325

    Location: Telford

    i would like that feature too

    i use the media center and other apps at the same time when i mute media center it mutes everthing
     
  14. Participant

    Caporegime

    Joined: 13 May 2003

    Posts: 32,045

    Location: Warwickshire

    Because if I am watching live TV on WMC but want to listen to a YouTube clip in IE, I have to pause or quit the live tv if I want to hear YouTube. I'd rather flick WMC to mute. There are a million and one other scenarios that make this a bad idea.
     
  15. alex24

    Capodecina

    Joined: 1 Jan 2008

    Posts: 10,847

    OK, I understand. I use WMC on a dedicated HTPC so this has never been a problem, and indeed I believe the purpose MS intended, albeit a little short sighted of them to implement separate volume. It was probably for simplicity, but it'd be nice to have the option.
     
  16. alex24

    Capodecina

    Joined: 1 Jan 2008

    Posts: 10,847

    Added a whole bunch more plugins to the OP.

    Please feel free to suggest any more, or even other useful programs to use with WMC.
     
  17. alex24

    Capodecina

    Joined: 1 Jan 2008

    Posts: 10,847

    Just a bump to let you guys know I'm still open to any suggestions of useful plugins or apps.
     
  18. Thrash

    Hitman

    Joined: 2 Aug 2004

    Posts: 564

    Location: Adelaide

    I have Windows 7 running on a Asrock ION 330, with dual digital tuners, connected to LCD tv. This streams content to a Linksys media extender attached to another LCD tv and in another room i have an xbox acting as a media extender and connected to a Panasonic projector. Also not media centre as such but I also have streaming of music from the Asrock to a Soundbridge.

    In the past had Tivo and Sky+ and neither offer the functionality and flexibility of my current setup.

    Only added to it with media browser. The main selling point for me is the central storage of recorded tv, the distribution of media through the house and the fact that it all just works.
     
  19. dante6491

    Soldato

    Joined: 30 Jun 2006

    Posts: 6,047

    Location: London

    There is a way to mute WMC without muting the entire pc, requires a mouse though. Go to the sound icon on the bottom right of the desktop, select mixer and mute accordingly. Voila.

    I have got in the habit of leaving it open most of the time and just muting things as I go along.
     
  20. alex24

    Capodecina

    Joined: 1 Jan 2008

    Posts: 10,847

    Good tip, forgot that you could do that in Windows 7. It also works for Windows Media Player.