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Windows 7 HTPC set up


steev

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Does anyone here have a Windows based home theatre PC? I'm wondering what software people are using, & how well it works.

 

Before anyone says anything about Linux/MythTV, I'd love to use that, but as I didn't look into it properly beforehand I'm stuck with a TV card that doesn't have Linux support, & onboard AMD/ATI graphics (their Linux performance sucks, I know, I should've gone for nVidia).

 

So far on Windows I've tried...

 

Windows Media Centre (current set up) - Interface seems OK for TV, for video & music library it leaves a lot to be desired. TV guide interface, tweaking, channel re-ordering etc very clunky. Video/music support that poor that I'm using other programs for those.

 

Mediaportal TV Server & client - TV server seems OK, but stability varies, channel switching slower than Windows Media Centre, nasty interlacing on fast moving TV pictures, de-interlacing options don't seem to do anything. Mediaportal client interface is nasty, media centre remote only partially works & re-mapping keys is a major ballache. All in all the client kills this option by being ugly, un-intuitive, & a right pain in the arse to customise.

 

Mediaportal TV server & XBMC (re-build with PVR support) - same stability issues with TV server, but if anything slightly worse. XBMC front-end is the nicest of the three options, media centre remote works perfectly, UI is best, TV interlacing still present but slightly better than above. Unfortunately TV support not native to XBMC, stuck with re-builds that have serious stability problems, EPG will randomly re-order itself back to default, PVR plugin will randomly not load on start, & other problems.

 

Has anyone got any other suggestions of software (both TV server & client software) that is any better?

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I was using Mediabrowser which is a plugin for W7 Media Center that provides a nice interface with various coverart, backdrops and metadata.

 

I have now moved to Plex Media Centre which pulls movies, TV and music from Plex Media Server that runs locally on the same machine. It automatically adds images and metadata and also allows you to stream to iPad, iPhone and ATV. I would highly recommend it http://www.plexapp.com

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Windows Media Centre doesn't have interlacing problems, but the others do regardless of what I try...

 

Codec packs aside do you have the video & music parts pointed at folders with decent amounts of content? When I pointed Media Centre to those it was about the ugliest UI I've ever seen.

 

**edit - just seen gatecrasher's post, that partially answers that then. I may have to look at Plex, hadn't seen that before, thanks.

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Windows Media Centre doesn't have interlacing problems, but the others do regardless of what I try...

 

Codec packs aside do you have the video & music parts pointed at folders with decent amounts of content? When I pointed Media Centre to those it was about the ugliest UI I've ever seen.

 

**edit - just seen gatecrasher's post, that partially answers that then. I may have to look at Plex, hadn't seen that before, thanks.

 

I do have the folders set, but I don't know what you mean by the UI being ugly?

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My HTPC boots to win 7 mc, this is only used as a DVR utilising freesat and freeview, for downloaded movies, tv, iplayer, 4od and other services media center has a 'plex' button, I press this and it fires up plex media center, this is by far better than anything else I have ever used (Boxee, various linux/xbmc, media portal etc. etc.). All this is controlled via either win remote if i'm using my phone or tablet or via a Emprex 3009URF remote - http://www.play.com/PC/PCs/4-/13628507/Emprex-3009URF-Wireless-MCE-Remote-Control/Product.html .

 

Using plex offer great flexability, I can switch between watching stuff on the big tv, the bedroom tv the tablet and even my phone.

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I do have the folders set, but I don't know what you mean by the UI being ugly?

 

I mean that I point it at my video directory, & it shows up absolutely everything on one screen in crappy looking thumbnails, all randomly, no context, partial file names (it only leaves space for the first few characters so it's like being back on old Windows, ie MICROS~1 days), no layers for different content or folders, & when coming from something nice looking like XBMC makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a fork.

 

Same with the music directory, except it's not quite to fork-gouging levels, maybe light harassment with a spork...

 

Good enough explanation? :hihi:

 

That plex looks very nice & sounds nicer, think I'll be checking that out tonight, thank you for the suggestion.

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Hi steev, What TV tuner is it?

 

It's a Hauppauge HVR4400, a hybrid Freeview & Freesat HD card.

 

I've had a look at Plex, it's like XBMC, only it uses more resources, doesn't look as nice & just installs a link from Media Centre. Pity, I was hoping to be able to use the TV tuner from within Plex :(

 

In the end I've re-installed XBMC (stable, without TV card support), & installed the tvcatchup.com plugin, so I've at least got streaming Freeview & all media through a single UI, just not HD.

 

XBMC's the nicest one I've used so far, it's just a pity they've not actually included any kind of stable TV card support.

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