Free Media Centre Software for XP

Discussion in 'Software' started by DieselLives, Apr 6, 2008.

Share This Page

  1. DieselLives

    DieselLives Constant Upgrader

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey people.

    I want to build a media centre for my lounge, however I don't have a spare Vista HP install but do have a spare XP Pro OEM.

    I am building the machine this afternoon/evening and have been looking into some media centre front ends, but it seems the good ones are either no longer available, purchasedby Yahoo! or are now chargeable.

    At the moment my options are looking awful.

    Here is what I want from my media centre

    Music - creating playlists, good visulisations, wma & mp3 playback, album art, ratings
    Video - support for the most common formats, but most importantly divx and xvid, Vista has crap handling for these and the various plugins work badly with various crashes, compatability with these is vital.
    Pictures - transitions and configurable intervals between.
    TV - not important as I have no arial in the loft, we just have Sky+ and that has all the TV functions I want.
    Must have support for the Microsoft Remote, as I have a spare one.

    Before anyone uggests it, i'm really not at all interested in any Linux media centre OS's, although they seem very interested, I want something that works, and that I can fix easily and quickly if/when it goes wrong. My knowledge of Linux sucks, so no thank you!
     
  2. LSG501

    LSG501 You can call me Levi

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Messages:
    3,435
    Likes Received:
    0
    have you tried a google, there are plenty of options out there.
     
  3. DieselLives

    DieselLives Constant Upgrader

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have but many of the links are to old and out of date reviews for software thats no longer available.

    I liked the look of myHTPC, put that's gone (thanks Yahoo!). I have downloaded the Yahoo! software, but I don't really want to use it. I find that most Yahoo! software is bloated, slow and unresponsive.

    I have looked into Cyberlink's PowerCinema 5 but i'm not really that keen to pay for it (I want something free).

    ShowShifter has gone, but that was a paid for product too anyway.

    I just want something that works, that my missus and kids can use does what I need.

    Recommendations please!
     
  4. Lomax

    Lomax Deadly Pacifist!

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2004
    Messages:
    1,234
    Likes Received:
    0
  5. DieselLives

    DieselLives Constant Upgrader

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    0
    Did look into MediaPortal, which looks very good but I have read some reviews that point out the same as you have, the requirement for extensive tweaking, and there are many complaints regarding the installer and how it doesn't actually install everything required to get going, apparently once installed you have to run serveral scripts and plugins to get full functionality, which to be honest looks like it could open a whole can of worms when something goes wrong, fault-finding would likely be a bit of a nightmare.

    It's taken many months to convince the missus o let me build this thing and stick it under the telly (she hates computers - maybe i should ditch her?) and I know that the moment something goes wrong she's going to complain to the point of me throwing it out the window!

    Hence the requirement to be as hassle free, simple to use as possible!
     
  6. Chenks

    Chenks Registered Trader

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2002
    Messages:
    3,741
    Likes Received:
    0
    not true.

    i use mediaportal, and have done for quite some time, and it does not require "several scripts" to be run.

    the installer installs everything required to run straight away. obviously it requires standard codecs to run what media you want to pay. the rule is that if window media player can play it, then so can MP.
     
  7. DieselLives

    DieselLives Constant Upgrader

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    0
    Oh right, then I guess i must have read a review that was either out of date, or was just rubbish. I think I'll bite the bullit and give it a go.

    I'll post my findings at some point.
     
  8. six5tring

    six5tring Silent Kristian Konsumer

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2004
    Messages:
    3,251
    Likes Received:
    0
    media portal would be my suggestion... never found it hard to setup. Personally prefer VMC but that's just for swirlyness!

    six
     
  9. Tom

    Tom Merrrrrr

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2002
    Messages:
    4,147
    Likes Received:
    0
    Having done a lot of testing with Mythbuntu recently, I can suggest that it might be worth giving it a go. It really doesn't require any 'Linux knowledge' to get it going.

    And it's free, so you've got nothing to lose. Just my 2p on the comments about Linux media centres, however. ;)
     
  10. DieselLives

    DieselLives Constant Upgrader

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for that, but this is where I stand now.

    Having built the media centre, I decided to discuss software and OS options with the primary end-user (the missus), and concluded that we would just stick to what we both know and understand.

    As such I have installed Vista HP after all, and am going to keep an eye out for ways and means of getting MCE to fully recognise and operate divx and xvid files properly (software i've tried so far seems buggy and the Vista Codec Pack sucks ass), in the mean time I have agreed to burn all our divx and xvid content t dvd, then rip it back to the hdd as .vob files (any suggestions how to do this other than the tried and tested divx - DVD via Nero, burn and reimport/rip with DVDFab HD Decrypter 4 - this method works very well, but is rather long winded, was thinking of pointing Nero at my virtual Daemon Tools DVD drive to speed things up and save on media).

    And in the mean time I will try out media portal and such on my main PC.
     
  11. dave-lew99

    dave-lew99 Super Kustomer

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    688
    Likes Received:
    0
    You're having problems with the codec pack?

    I'm surprised i literally just installed Vista + Drivers + Codec pack and the box works flawlessly.

    I can't agree more for ease of use - Vista MCE is pretty, relatively easy to use and far less buggy than XP MCE, i only want to move to Myth/VDR on linux so i can do net booting of clients and single mux recording (where you can watch/record as many channels you like simultaneously as long as they are on the same DVB-T mux)
     
  12. DieselLives

    DieselLives Constant Upgrader

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    0
    Maybe it's due to running only 64bit versions of Vista, I don't know, but what i do know is that only once have I got divx or xvid to play through MCE in Vista, but only if i didn't spend too long browsing through my library, because if i did then it would BSOD, thus requiring a reboot.

    That wasn't with the Codec Pack though, that was with ffdshow and MediaControl64 installed.
    At the moment I have the Codec Pack installed on my Vista Ultimate, and that just can't play divx/xvid's.
     
  13. six5tring

    six5tring Silent Kristian Konsumer

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2004
    Messages:
    3,251
    Likes Received:
    0
    your right... i can play xvid in media player but not VMC on ultimate 64 bit.

    six
     
  14. dave-lew99

    dave-lew99 Super Kustomer

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    688
    Likes Received:
    0
    It must be a 64 bit specific issue then - mines 32 and like i said, it's been flawless. I can't believe 64-bit windows still has trouble, after all they've been around for years now (XP x64 was a nightmare - my boss runs it at work and just has one problem after another)

    Sorry i can't really help, maybe you could try Vista 32?
     
  15. DieselLives

    DieselLives Constant Upgrader

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    0
    Was thinking about it, but i have only 64bit here, Ultimate and Home Prem, the Home Prem isn't doing anything, so thats why i've chosen to use that, i can't justify purchasing another OS!
     
  16. dave-lew99

    dave-lew99 Super Kustomer

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    688
    Likes Received:
    0
    Oh i was under the impression that the 32 and 64 bit versions were on the same disk for Vista (i dont really use Vista, only for the mediacentre which was an install and forget job)
     
  17. Bootup05

    Bootup05 Bootup05

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2005
    Messages:
    2,427
    Likes Received:
    0
    Instead of burning avi to disk and ripping back again you can simply download DVD Flick. This will convert your Avi's to vob & ifo. Just like on disk. Stores on the hardrive in the format of a dvd....and files are still playable from a media player.

    Also about to start using MediaPortal for my new htpc, looking forward to it, looks like a good program! :)

    This might also be interesting for you.
    http://www.onetipaday.com/2007/05/28/how-to-play-xvid-and-avi-files-with-vista-media-center/

    Plus the tip to easier codec support in Media Center is to Disable Auto download codecs in WMP. I know it sounds werid but it's something I heard in another forum..Not sure how well it works
     
  18. DieselLives

    DieselLives Constant Upgrader

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2007
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    0
    I believe you're right to assume that both 32 and 64bit version are on the same disk, however you cannot pick and choose which to install. If you use a license key for 64bit, then 64bit is certainly installed.
    You can use the same cd to install 32bit, when inputting a key for a 32bit version. The installing decides which is which and chooses automatically.

    Tweaker, the FFDshow and media control plugins just don't work on my system. I haven't tried yet on my new HTPC, which being a clean install of Vista Home Prem + SP1 probably stands a better chance of utilising them than my aging Ultimate installation, however as it seems to work for many other people then i shouldn't tar that method with the same brush I suppose.

    Thanks for your help guys.
    When I get a chance to work on it again i will let you know my findings, but any other suggestions in the mean time are much appreciated as ever.