What is the best way to set up a Windows 7 Media Center?
May 19, 2010 6:48 AM   Subscribe

This weekend I'm going to be setting up, installing and configuring Windows 7 Media Center as a DVR. Do you have any recommendations on things to do or not do in order to get the most out of this?

I have an Asus EeeBox PC EB1012, Hauppauge WinTV-Nova-TD dual tuner and the remote control that comes with the latter.

I plan to:

1. Install Windows 7 Home Premium, Microsoft Security Essentials, Hauppage drivers, Eventghost for IR control (if I need this) and CCP for various codecs.
2. Get it connected to the home network
3. Schedule anti-virus and defrag daily at 3am
4. Turn off all aero effects.
5. Set W7MC to start on boot up
6. Install and configure MyChannel Logos, Media Browser, Remote Potato, TuneFree MCE (for BBC iPlayer), MCEBuddy (for reducing the file sizes by converting to H264) and ShowAnalyzer.
7. Use Media Center studio to modify the menus so that you always go to Media Browser to view all the available content.
8. Configure sharing so that the content is accessible on the network.

Is there anything else that you can recommend that I should (or should not) be doing? Bonus points if they Freeview (DVB-T) specific as I'm based in the UK.

Main goals is a girlfriend friendly DVR which can:

a. Watch, record and play back live TV
b. Play video files (mainly DivX/Xvid) both hosted locally and remotely on the home network.
c. Watch catchup TV (BBC iPlayer, 4oD, Demand Five etc)
d. Listen to digital radio.
e. Listen to music hosted remotely on the home network.

In the future I'd like to be able to buy a DVB-T2 USB stick and get Freeview HD recordings as well.

posted by mr_silver to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would get the MCE USB IR receiver so you can use a standard universal remote.
posted by wongcorgi at 6:52 AM on May 19, 2010

Response by poster: Sorry, forgot to add that I have a Harmony 555 remote control so I plan to use that instead of the (rather nasty) Hauppauge one.
posted by mr_silver at 6:58 AM on May 19, 2010

Response by poster: Now I have it set up, couple of things:

1. MCEBuddy is kind of pointless because, once converted, you lose all the meta-data and it disappears from the TV show list. The solution is for it to be shown in Media Browser but then you get two places that shows could be. This isn't GF friendly enough, so I ditched it.

2. Out of the box, MCE doesn't support FFWD and RWD on any formats which aren't WTV or DVR-MS. An utterly dumb decision by Microsoft. I tried using XBMC for these pieces of content and it works but wasn't happy with the way the UI changes. In addition, hitting the "back" button whilst playing content causes XMBC to minimise and you're stuck until you connect to the Media Centre with a keyboard. I'm now going to try the Media Control plugin which claims to solve all these problems.

3. Use TightVNC to access your PC without plugging in a keyboard. If you use LogMeIn or Remote Desktop then MCE exits which is somewhat annoying.

4. I use Yammm to monitor the "Videos" folder. It looks for new files and then adds all the approriate meta-data. I then have a perl script which looks for movies in the "Recorded TV" folder and moves them into there every night. This means that movies don't clutter up the recorded TV section and sit only in Movies. In the future, I can convert them to a smaller format and view them through Media Center.

5. I looked at doing advert filtering using a variety of tools but in the end it was just too complicated. I may re-visit it in the future.
posted by mr_silver at 3:44 AM on June 28, 2010

Response by poster: Following up from point 2:

I managed to get pretty damn near perfect playback of all of the popular formats by uninstalling any codec packs and then installing Media Browser and FFDShow (using the instructions here) to play back non-Microsoft content.

I then installed the Media Control Plugin which enabled FFWD and RWD to work on those non-Microsoft formats.

After that I was able to browse and watch (through Media Browser) DivX, XviD, MP4 and MKV files stored locally on the hard drive or streamed from another PC or NAS across my 802.11n network happily without any stutter.

Following up from point 4:

I found that there is a WTV and DVR-MS plugin for Media Browser which means that you can group all your videos (on the network, stored locally or recorded off the TV) in one place irrespective of format. It's installed as part of the base pack but not enabled so you have to find the plugins section and enable it.

To get it to work best you need to have the Perl script that I have which moves the films from the "Recorded TV" folder into the "Movies" folder - but once it's up and running, it looks rather good.

Hope that helps people.
posted by mr_silver at 8:54 AM on July 1, 2010

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