Windows Media Center Thread

I've been running Windows Media Center (WMC) since Vista and have been on W7 for over a year.
In the past I've tried things like My Movies for adding metadata to my DVD directory but have issues with things like the .xml that replaces the .jpg's I've already put in there.
Currently, I use the vanilla WMC interface, other than the Heatwave and WHS add-ins I don't run anything fancy for my tv/movies/media.

What do you use? How is the spouse acceptance factor?

I've used WMC since XP Media Center Edition. At the end of last year I upgraded to a Ceton InfiniTV 4, and I'm currently running 7 tuners total

I've got My Movies running on my Windows Home Server that houses the DVD rips. Not really messed with with the images, but had to do a lot of manual tweaking to make sure it had the right movie, and some manual work to link DVD sets together. I haven't upgraded to 4.0.

On the main HTPC I run MediaBrowser instead of My Movies.

I also run Heatwave, plus Showanalyzer/DVRMSToolbox for automatic commercial skipping, and a Boxee launcher for the handful of things I use Boxee for.

My fiancée and her 8 year old seem fine with working with MC.

Thanks for the Showanalyzer/DVRMSToolbox recommendations, MannishBoy. Works great for the WTV files. I wish it'd work better with MCEBuddy for converting to AVI, but I suppose I can just buy a sh*tload of hard drive space cheaply now.

Hauppauge has finally officially announced it's CableCARD tuner. Dual tuner USB. $129. Supposedly out soon.

Also, the Ceton's have had a price drop/instant rebate, and can now be found well under $300 at times.

I know I've advised on here and other places several times to avoid wireless clients (Xboxes in MC Extender mode) at all costs if you're running HD. I'd had bad luck in the past on wireless, so always had advised CAT5(e). But yesterday I picked up a MS wireless adapter for an older 360 I had sitting around so that I could put it in my step daughter's room. I went with the MS version since it also had 5Ghz so that I could segregate all my video from the other devices in the mixed network (g and n) 2.4Ghz band in the house. So far, it's working flawlessly. I was going to pull a cable, but now I don't think it's necessary.

I did also set up my old Dlink DIR825 in the bedroom on the other end of the house closer to her room to function as another access point on the network just to make sure I had coverage (same SIID/passwords as the main router).

Sad that the 360 S upgrade dumped the 5Ghz band, so if you wanted to do this with a newer Xbox on the 5Ghz frequency you'd have to buy some kind of bridge or the MS adapter anyway.

If anybody is vaguely thinking of going CableCARD WMC, the Ceton 4 tuner card and USB external tuners are both $200 right now. $50 a tuner is a GREAT deal on these.

I have a lot more lost tuners (ie reboots) with the Ceton USB than I did with the Ceton internal. It's gotten a little bit better with the latest driver but I wish our entertainment center (it was new 6 months ago) didn't kill the internal Cetons with the skill of a predator.

Eezy_Bordone wrote:

I have a lot more lost tuners (ie reboots) with the Ceton USB than I did with the Ceton internal. It's gotten a little bit better with the latest driver but I wish our entertainment center (it was new 6 months ago) didn't kill the internal Cetons with the skill of a predator.

The Amazon reviews seem to bear that out, that the PCIe cards are more stable. I've got the internal.

Are you saying you've had PCIe cards die? Knock on wood, I pre-ordered mine and it's still running well.

MannishBoy wrote:

Are you saying you've had PCIe cards die? Knock on wood, I pre-ordered mine and it's still running well.

In my original entertainment center my WMC box (A dell inspiron) stood upright, all was fine with the internal card. However when we got a new entertainment center I had to place the case on its side. Just this change caused enough strain on the cable that the female end of the mini-coax on the Ceton would pop off. Although I could reconnect it it didn't last long enough to get the case back into the center. So I ordered another one thinking maybe it was the physical card, nope it's the design. That mini-coax connector is a fragile beast. The USB version was released a few weeks later, I had reverted to my old internal dual tuner since dropping 700$ wasn't in the budget at the time.

Eezy_Bordone wrote:
MannishBoy wrote:

Are you saying you've had PCIe cards die? Knock on wood, I pre-ordered mine and it's still running well.

In my original entertainment center my WMC box (A dell inspiron) stood upright, all was fine with the internal card. However when we got a new entertainment center I had to place the case on its side. Just this change caused enough strain on the cable that the female end of the mini-coax on the Ceton would pop off. Although I could reconnect it it didn't last long enough to get the case back into the center. So I ordered another one thinking maybe it was the physical card, nope it's the design. That mini-coax connector is a fragile beast. The USB version was released a few weeks later, I had reverted to my old internal dual tuner since dropping 700$ wasn't in the budget at the time.

Ah, that makes sense. I have mine horizontal, but there's no tension on the cable.

Alright, I'm thinking of building my own HTPC and ditching TiVo for good, but I have a big 'ol noob question right out of the gate:

I know I can watch live and recorded tv from an extender, but I can also set recordings from the extender as well?

I plan on going four-tuner and leaving the box out of the way upstairs in my office and was wondering if all the recordings have to be set locally on the HTPC itself.

PaladinTom wrote:

Alright, I'm thinking of building my own HTPC and ditching TiVo for good, but I have a big 'ol noob question right out of the gate:

I know I can watch live and recorded tv from an extender, but I can also set recordings from the extender as well?

Yes. You can do about anything from the extender with TV content. The only thing there's a difference on is that it's pickier on non-TV file types that will play on the extenders, either native or even transcoded, which will generally have worse quality than native. So if you've got a lot of content like that (ripped movies, etc), you might need to do some reencoding if you're planning on watching them on extenders.

As MB said, TV-wise the extender is just an extension of WMC.
I use the default Movies interface for WMC and it works great on the box itself in the living room. On my extenders though I have to add the share that stores the movies to the video library and then go to Pictures & Video to play them. I rip my movies in native .vob format and the extender has no problem with them but since they are multi-part I have to do this to play a movie on my extender:
WMC > Pictures & Video > Movies Share Name > Movie Name Folder > Video_TS Folder > Scroll up to the top and click Play All.
The movie will then play in it's entirety w/o chapters and there is a 2-4 second interrupt between vob files (about every 40 minutes).

It's not ideal but my kids aren't getting grubby hands all over the discs and my six year old has been able to play movies since he was four. I use the old Linksys extenders (no noise) though Ceton just released the Echo which is an extender with other streaming stuff ala roku but I don't know if you can access the streaming w/o exiting the extender portion like you have to with an xbox.

Thanks for the tips! Another silly question: I'm assuming other Win7 pcs in the house will also act as extenders. For instance, my laptop could stream recorded tv from the main WMC? But wouldn't all the Win7 pcs in the house also see every other pc as a Media Center? I'm sure it's just something I have to set up. Now I'm getting excited. This is going to be fun...

I don't really rip much video anymore as we watch so much online nowadays. In fact, the reason I want to ditch TiVo is because we watch so little broadcast television that DVRs (at least for my family) aren't a necessity anymore and I hate paying monthly fees. I have FIOS and their monthly whole-home DVR fees plus boxes on every tv is ridiculous.

I didn't know the Ceton extenders do more than than just extend WMC. I was thinking of picking one up anyway. Of course, the moment I do Microsoft will announce their Xbox STB. I would actually grab another Xbox 4gb if you didn't need a gold membership for streaming apps. Hope that dies if they come out with a STB. Of course, knowing Microsoft it will probably ditch WMC extender capability given how they've treated it in Win8.

PaladinTom wrote:

Thanks for the tips! Another silly question: I'm assuming other Win7 pcs in the house will also act as extenders. For instance, my laptop could stream recorded tv from the main WMC? But wouldn't all the Win7 pcs in the house also see every other pc as a Media Center? I'm sure it's just something I have to set up. Now I'm getting excited. This is going to be fun...

Sorry, that's just not true. In the WMC communities, what you're wanting to do has been asked for forever, but MS never implemented it and the MC team has pretty much been disbanded at this point, so it will never be there in MC as it currently stands. This functionality is referred to as "soft sled".

You CAN watch non-"copy once" content on other Win 7 PCs by just joining the same homegroup or sharing the Recorded TV folder, but you can't stream live TV unless you're tuner is directly shared. If you're using a CableCard, specifically the Ceton, you can share the tuner over the network with one specific PC, but then it's unavailable permanently to the host PC, so it would be down to 3 tuners. This is a DRM thing mainly, and part of the CableLab requirements on how these tuners work.

I didn't know the Ceton extenders do more than than just extend WMC. I was thinking of picking one up anyway. Of course, the moment I do Microsoft will announce their Xbox STB. I would actually grab another Xbox 4gb if you didn't need a gold membership for streaming apps. Hope that dies if they come out with a STB. Of course, knowing Microsoft it will probably ditch WMC extender capability given how they've treated it in Win8.

They will even run Android in the latest beta. Not sure what that gets you.

The cost is nearly what a 360 costs, so I didn't opt to buy into the beta (I was selected). They're interesting, but to me, they need to be sub $130 to make them worth it over the 360. Adding functionality might change that for me, though, and they may get more interesting over time.

MannishBoy wrote:

If anybody is vaguely thinking of going CableCARD WMC, the Ceton 4 tuner card and USB external tuners are both $200 right now. $50 a tuner is a GREAT deal on these.

I have the USB tuner on my dell zino and it rules.

MannishBoy wrote:

You CAN watch non-"copy once" content on other Win 7 PCs by just joining the same homegroup or sharing the Recorded TV folder

That's all I'd need. Wouldn't need live tv on a pc. Just thinking it would be nice to fire up the Daily Show occasionally when I'm working.

Some more (hopefully not too) annoying questions:

1. Can any DLNA streaming device (like a PS3) stream recorded tv? The Google is inconclusive...mostly outdated articles.

2. I'm probably putting a Ceton InfiniTV 4 card in a 64 bit Core2 Duo with 8gb RAM. Should that suffice if all tuners are cranking with either recording or watching live tv on extenders? Also, would there be a network bottleneck as well?

3. Lastly, what about storage for just television? How big are the file sizes of recorded high def-tv files? Is 1TB enough to start?

PaladinTom wrote:
MannishBoy wrote:

You CAN watch non-"copy once" content on other Win 7 PCs by just joining the same homegroup or sharing the Recorded TV folder

That's all I'd need. Wouldn't need live tv on a pc. Just thinking it would be nice to fire up the Daily Show occasionally when I'm working.

Some more (hopefully not too) annoying questions:

1. Can any DLNA streaming device (like a PS3) stream recorded tv? The Google is inconclusive...mostly outdated articles.

Probably not without transcoding them or swapping their container. However, SiliconDust just announced that they're upgrading their stuff to support DLNA streaming. I wouldn't be surprised if Ceton didn't follow suit for at least live TV. Not sure if you would have to assign the tuner to the DLNA streaming or not.

2. I'm probably putting a Ceton InfiniTV 4 card in a 64 bit Core2 Duo with 8gb RAM. Should that suffice if all tuners are cranking with either recording or watching live tv on extenders? Also, would there be a network bottleneck as well?

I'd think it's fine unless it's transcoding at the same time, which it doesn't sound like you'll be doing. I'm running an e8600 I think. With 7 tuners and 4 extenders.

3. Lastly, what about storage for just television? How big are the file sizes of recorded high def-tv files? Is 1TB enough to start?

Expect 4-6 GB per hour of HD content.

Depends on how many shows you like to record, but I'm running a 2TB drive with some of our archived stuff over on the server. I've got a 3TB I'm going to switch to to move some of the series I'm keeping on there for my daughter back to the HTPC itself off the server.

With the way the price curve on HD's work, I'd probably look at at least 1.5TB. They aren't that much more than 1 TB. I've got a 5400 RPM drive, but some recommend faster.

EDIT: Just want to explain something about content that I mentioned is "Copy Once". Copy Once flags are set by the content producer or cable company. Generally stuff like HBO is Copy Once on Comcast, but not much else. Some cable companies flag much more stuff Copy Once. That's not a problem for the host PC or extenders, but it will keep you from watching on any other PC, transcoding the content, or even replaying at all if you have to rebuild the OS on the same HTPC.

Most likely won't be a problem, but it can be if you plan to watch files on other PCs.

I have a 2TB drive in mine for RecordedTV and I don't even have it half filled. 426 episodes 802GB. 60 min in HD is around 4-6GB like MB said.

Arise thread!
I got this little gem yesterday going into Netflix on my MCE machine

IMAGE(http://www.bordone.com/temp/2015-07-31_nf-mce.png)

And they had finally fixed the 'it takes a random amount of times clicking play on a Netflix movie/show to get it to play in MCE' 2 months ago.

I'm actually surprised that still works. I haven't tried it in forever.

Yeah, I thought Netflix support for WMC had ended several years ago -- at least, it stopped working for me, and that pretty much led to my not using WMC any more.

I guess I missed out on it being fixed.