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Windows Media Center vs Media Portal


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Old 30-07-2013, 13:47
justjax
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 851

Hi all, been using Windows Media Center for several years now and genreally love it, but MS seem to have pretty much given up developing it so I was thinking of perhaps switching to one of the alternative Open source programs. I remember briefly using Media Portal what must have been more than 5 years ago and it was a bit clunky compared to WMC so quickly went back to WMC.

Having looked at the MP site today, the current version looks pretty slick. I'm temped to give it a whirl. Anyone currently using it? Anyone able to comment on how it feels today in comparison to WMC? In terms of use, I need to be able to record TV (got a dual HD freeview card), play DVD's (and ideally Blu Rays), playback avi files, etc and I want to be able to use the Windows remote to control things.
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Old 30-07-2013, 15:23
PsychoTherapist
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Liverpool, UK
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First, I'll begin with 1 important thing - MediaPortal can be a pain to configure it's many options, plus additional plugins & skins etc, but once you have it all set up, it's well worth it.

I still use Windows Media Center for TV. It's been a few years now, but like yourself - last time I tried MediaPortal for TV, it was quite poor, with slow channel changing, difficulty generating the EPG, audio/video sync issues etc etc. Things may very well have changed nowadays though, but I'm still not a big fan of the TV Server configuration and opted to stay with Media Center.

As for everything else though, MediaPortal is miles better than Media Center. I use the StreamedMP skin & it's included plugins, which nicely provides almost everything you need to get MediaPortal going, with a nice looking frontend GUI.

There is a plugin available to allow you to automatically launch Arcsoft TotalMedia Theatre or Cyberlink PowerDVD, for playback of Blu-Ray, much like how it works in Media Center. DVD playback is built-in. They have included partial Blu-Ray playback in the later versions of MediaPortal, but I wouldn't recommend it, stick to the aforementioned plugin.

As for other media, .avi etc playback, you can do it either via the built-in Videos function, browsing folders, or via the MP-TV Series & Moving Pictures plugins/databases - which will scan your folders and download relevant titles, synopsis, fan artwork etc.

For me also, one of the best improvements over Media Center is the Dynamic Refresh changer (has to be enabled in settings), which will change your output refresh rate automatically, to match the content that you are playing, for smoother playback.

You should have no problem using your Windows remote either, there is an option to disable Media Center & it's associated services and have the Green Button open MediaPortal instead. You can further tweak your remote if you desire, with the EventGhost software + Message Plugin for MediaPortal.

I've got my setup also to launch Windows Media Center from within MediaPortal, launching straight to either Live or Recorded TV. Requires the MultiShortcut plugin and manual creation of custom .xml files, for inclusion on the BasicHome screen. Not exactly easy to setup, but works well.
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