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Building A Media Center


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I am working on building a media center PC and I am currently reviewing software for it such as: XMBC, MS Media Center & Boxee.

Although I do like XMBC it does not seem to be supported very well and allot of the plugins just don't work. MS Media Center does not seem to do a very good job of indexing Audio with pictures very well and the live TV is a feature I would like however, it does not seem that I can eliminate CLIPS of shows and only show FULL shows. Boxee if I am correct is built on XBMC and sometimes crashes.

What I am looking to do is have hopefully a single piece of software that would index my local Audio/Video and show related CD or DVD cover pictures, be able to see podcasts live and archived and also have the ability to show regular big media shows on the networks. Additionally I am hoping to also have Netflix and Hulu+ built in.

One other thing I would like is if the application does not have a plugin or application for a media source I would like I need a way to add it in.

Does anyone have suggestions on how to build a system that could do all that with one software application vs. jumping from MS Media Center for Netflix, Hulu Desktop and then XBMC. Is there a best of all worlds?

I am not concerned if it is MS or Linux based.

Edited by DaBeach
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mythtv and media portal are two others you could have a look at. I tried them both, but my hardware caused some problems for them. In the end I went with Windows 7 media center, which is working great.

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After a short bit of online research and further playing with XBMC software for Windows I think I have swayed towards XBMC vs. Windows Media Center although I also will continue to use Hulu Desktop and should be able to integrate it into XBMC. I felt initially that XBMC was unsupported after installing several plugins that when run did not work. Anyone who has installed Drupal (Content Management) or PFSense (Firewall/Router) will feel in a similar environment related to installing plug-ins and tweaking text files.

Here is a few likes for XBMC

After it scans your audio and video files it imports from the net associated CD/DVD cover media including detailed descriptions of movies that include directors and actors (With Photos!). You can pull up a list of actors and when selected it will show all your movies with them in it.

Fanart can be included in audio which will go out and show pictures of singers and or bands when the song is being played (Fun with a large media collection).

The interface is skin-able however, not all skins offer in depth information on the system and or files. Some skins lack basic functions.

The Weather information can be updated to show background pictures that relate to the weather in your location and can be updated with animated icons showing weather activity.

The ability to set user profiles and passwords (good for the kids).

With further exploration I think I should be able to integrate Hulu and possibly netflix and also other audio/video sources on the net. I am running this on a laptop and 46" LCD now but I will go an purchase a tower system soon and move it into the living room.

P.S. Tips on Tweaks for XBMC are welcome.

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