HTPC Media browsing software - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 2008-01-04, 03:37 PM Thread Starter
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HTPC Media browsing software

Hi All

I have a quick question. I have an htpc setup but I am lacking any true htpc software. Everything runs great however I was wondering if there was any specific software that provides an interface to browse and play media and sort them by their album cover and movie box cover. (to give the effect as if I was picking movies off a shelf)

I figure this would substantially enhance my htpc media experience.

Any suggestions?

thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 2008-01-05, 10:24 AM
 
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Free? MediaPortal or XLobby comes to my mind...
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 2008-01-05, 10:41 AM
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Much of the HTPC software is more built around PVR applications. What OS are you running? You can browse albums by covers in iTunes but that won't help for videos. The best thing I have seen for DVDs is MyMovies which is an add in for MCE but that means you either need XP MCE or Vista Home Premium/Ultimate.
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 2008-01-05, 10:42 AM Thread Starter
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thanks ice.. ive been playing with media portal a tiny bit and ive seen some screen where it displays movie cases as the icons.. i havent gotten that far yet though..

have you had a chance to compare it with XLobby ?

i havent looked into that one yet..

thanks for the reply !
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 2008-01-05, 10:50 AM
 
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Its been too long for me to give any impressions on xLobby but people keep recommanding it lately so they must be doing something decent :P
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 2008-01-05, 10:57 AM Thread Starter
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thanks.. running xp pro 32bit here.

by the looks of media portal.. it seems to be a well rounded peice of software not solely focused on pvr functionality. it has most, if not all of the same features as XBMC which i am really used to..

and by the looks of what i have seen with the spinsafe revolve skin, you can brosw any media by retail cover.

can anyone confirm this ?
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 2008-01-05, 02:41 PM
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I recently bought an HD tuner card and it came with Total Media 3. It looks nice imo (kinda like WMC), but I didn't see anything about the DVD cover thing you are wanting.

If you take a look at ArcSoft's website there is more info.
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 2008-01-07, 10:44 AM
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I have looked and played with most of the stuff out there and there is only one conclusion I have come to.

SageTV is the best overall option. Even though it costs money.

It is
  • a total media solution and not just for PVRing.
  • highly customizable.
  • easy to install.
  • backed up by a selection of hardware extender devices (Only Windows MCE has this too).
  • constantly being updated.
  • the best product to get support on.
  • available for Windows, Linux and Mac

Sage has a 14 day demo you can try but my personal experience with the demo was that in less than 3 days, I paid for a copy of SageTV Media center and SageTV client.
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 2008-01-07, 11:02 AM
 
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You make a good case for me to try out Sage. Does it have an open plugin with the community contributing? I've always thought this was pretty important for my HTPC front end. For now I'm really happy with Media Portal, it's worth the time investment to get it going on your new HTPC.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 2008-01-07, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaseme
Does it have an open plugin with the community contributing?
Yes it does and it is a very active community. Complete with skin packs, plug-ins and all...
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 2008-01-07, 02:59 PM
 
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From testing last fall, the main issue I had with SageTV was the way it would handle the pre/post padding.

It would only removes padding on consecutive favourite recordings on the same channel (ex: ch4 from 7-8 and 8 to 9, removes the padding). Different channel? Conflict. 1 favourite then 1 manual? Conflict. 2 manuals? Conflict. Different channels? Conflict. «Favourites» are how the named regular shows (weekly/daily).

Since I didnt want to invest in extra tuners just to circumvent this and my #1 goal is reliable recordings, I went with BeyondTV with MediaPortal as my frontend to play everything. I can launch BTV from within MediaPortal using the "My Programs" pluggin so its a decent solution.

I do agree though. SageTV community is very active and so are its developers. Its light and day compared to BeyondTV (kinda slow/dead).
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 2008-01-07, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by TheIceMaster View Post
I do agree though. SageTV community is very active and so are its developers. Its light and day compared to BeyondTV (kinda slow/dead).
Has anyone done a pros & cons comparison of Sage, BTV and MCE recently?

Things have changed a lot in the last few months so this may change the analysis - it does seem that Sage has gained a lot of momentum - even some of the folks that have been longtime users of MCE have switched.
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 2008-01-07, 03:16 PM
 
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My last comparison of BeyondTV/SageTV was last november. I never really looked at MCE since there doesnt seem to be a way for me to try it before I buy it nor find if I can run 3 different EPG guides/sources without any issues.

SageTV has gained quite a bit of momentum. There are even individuals in the BTV forums admitting switching/trying SageTV because they would like a fully integrated product and not just a PVR (like combining their BeyondMedia & BeyondTV).

If you add the HD Extender SageTV introduced recently, it has become a very interesting solution. ~200$ to extend SageTV to any TV with a silent and compact device. The main gripe I've seen about it is the absence of a DVD drive to play them locally but that can be solved with just about any players or playing the DVDs from a server.

If it would always remove the padding regardless of favourites/manuals and same/different channels, I would probably be using SageTV instead of my MediaPortal/BeyondTV combo.
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 2008-01-07, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by TheIceMaster View Post
My last comparison of BeyondTV/SageTV was last november. I never really looked at MCE since there doesnt seem to be a way for me to try it before I buy it nor find if I can run 3 different EPG guides/sources without any issues.
I am currently using XP MCE on my HTPC and I am also running Vista MC on my office PC, mainly to just try it out. Assuming that you go to Vista you will be able to try MCE risk free as it now comes with the OS, assuming you buy Home Premium or higher. I know a lot of people dis Vista but I like it as a desktop OS but I am not yet ready to install it on my HTPC as I don't want to spend the time to get all the drivers, etc. working correctly as well as dealing with WAF issues caused by the change. I did buy a license for BTV but I don't really use it anymore.

I don't know about three guides but I am using 2 guides/sources - Rogers Digital cable and OTA. I found MCE much more flexible at assigning channels - with BTV I could not get it to download guide data for OTA channels if I told it I lived in Canada.

Once you apply a very easy hack this was quite simple to do in MCE. MCE does not have any guide info for OTA channels available for Canadians but you can even tell it to use data for a channel from a different source. For example - my Rogers Digital Cable has the local Buffalo NBC affiliate in HD as channel 528. For the Buffalo OTA channel which it calls 1021 I just tell it to use guide data for Rogers channel 528. My MCE system can't actually receive channel 528 from the digital box in HD as I am just using an S-video cable to connect the cable STB to the PC but it does receive the guide data for this channel. This allows me to load guide data for all OTA channels with the exception of sub-channel 3 on PBS.

And I quite like MCE for other functions such as a front end for movies using the MyMovies addin, plus photos and music
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 2008-01-07, 05:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
I don't know about three guides but I am using 2 guides/sources - Rogers Digital cable and OTA. I found MCE much more flexible at assigning channels - with BTV I could not get it to download guide data for OTA channels if I told it I lived in Canada.
Using BTV, you simply have to use «CustomLineups» if you want Canadian OTA ATSC EPG which allows you to pick your channel from any providers or any locations. That allows me to use the US OTA market next to me (Burlington/Plattburgh) which includes all the channels and subchannels from which I remove the 1-2 stations too far from me for reception (cleaner EPG) then add the Montreal stations that are broadcasting in ATSC to make 1 complete lineup (if you get all your channels through 1 antenna).

BTV = PVR only. Want more all included in 1 package? Better look at STV/MCE.

Regarding Vista, I haven't had the chance to mess around with it. At this time, everything I need, WinXP can do it. My only real motivation to go with Vista in the future will be 64bit support that allows more than 3-4GB of RAM. Hopefully, when I make the switch, Vista64 will have resolved most of its issues regarding driver/software.
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