Windows-based media player with limited interface?
April 27, 2005 2:03 PM   Subscribe

Recommendations on a free, lightweight media player (video, audio) that can run on a very slow PC running WinXP attached to a TV?

The PC has a VIA chipset and TV-out @ 640x480; there's no monitor or keyboard (I'm controlling it via remote). WMP is too complicated at such a low resolution; so is iTunes.

What I'm really looking for is something with an interface as simple as Windows Media Center that will allow me to select and play songs and videos (from a server in another room, across a wireless network) with as few remote actions as possible.

The solutions I've found are either too graphics-intensive (no DX9 here; it's a 4 MB video chip) or not simple enough. Tivo-like functionality is not needed; I just need to play mp3s and videos that are stored on a server and shared to this box across a network.

Oh, and it should be free. :)
posted by aberrant to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
When you access the computer remotely, I assume you are controlling via a laptop? VNC? 640x480 windowed shouldn't be too bad to see. Why not use winamp and look for a "minimal" simple skin? You may rescale the winamp player, in lieu of the resolution issue; I'm confused regarding the problem with resolution / mention of the graphic card.
posted by AllesKlar at 2:22 PM on April 27, 2005

VLC is pretty lightweight and comes with a host of codecs;
posted by AllesKlar at 2:25 PM on April 27, 2005

AllesKlar: everything's done via remote control (Keyspan USB remote) wherever possible - not a laptop. There's no need to VNC to it or to hook up monitor/keyboard/mouse now that all the settings are tested and things (except for the main interface) are working.

640x480x16 on a 31" screen looks lousy when you're dealing with anything less than, say 12pt fonts. That's why a limited interface is good.

VLC doesn't really do what I need. I've got approximately 20 gigs worth of music and about the same of video. I'm looking for something that will index the music (based on ID3 tag), allow me to select an artist, genre, or album, and play selections (down to selecting specific songs).
posted by aberrant at 2:37 PM on April 27, 2005

How about foobar? You can customize the interface to meet your requirements, and it's pretty lightweight.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:40 PM on April 27, 2005

I dig it; Winamp can handle all of those tags; I understand what you're saying about the resolution, I have a similar setup, but use a wireless mouse (gets really "squinty" at times.) Something like this with big buttons is what I was getting at as far as skinning winamp. I'm not sure how you would search by genre, in absence of alpha keys. Is the remote only being used for this (ie buttons assigned just for this app?)
posted by AllesKlar at 2:54 PM on April 27, 2005

Monju: looked at foobar, but didn't see an interface I liked and the docs suggested that I need to code in order to customize, which I don't really want to do.

AllesKlar: Winamp skins might be just the thing, though I'd like something a bit more polished-looking than the simple skin there :) The remote will ONLY be used for this - this app will be the only UI-thing running on the box. I can assign the buttons as necessary.

I'm not sure winamp is going to work, on second thought. The music/media selection interface is just too kludgy on all the skins I've seen. I don't want to have to buy Media Center just to get a nice, clean, menu-driven, useable interface for my library, but this is frustrating. SOMEBODY's gotta have a product that works.
posted by aberrant at 3:13 PM on April 27, 2005

I know I'm going to sound like a broken record here, but you can get an X-BOX for about $125, a dead-simple-to-install mod-chip for $35, and have a dick-hardening media center at your fingertips. Or just get one pre-modded.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:47 PM on April 27, 2005

But it's (sadly) not free.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:47 PM on April 27, 2005

aberrant: myhtpc sounds like it might be perfect for your needs - it's a free Media Centre-style front-end for windows. All controllable via remote, skinnable and with loads of community plugins - weather, movies, email, web browser etc.

Trouble is, I can't find it anymore. It used to be hosted at but now that redirects to a commercial version of the product.

... searches ...

Gotit. Download from here.

You might also want to try MediaPortal but I've not used it.
posted by blag at 6:17 AM on April 28, 2005

blag gets closest to the mark. Mediaportal, unfortunately, requires DX9, which I can't do on this crappy video card. I found OpenHTPC last night, installed it, and it rocks. Exactly what I needed.

For other suggestions, I also found this link.

Thanks, all!.
posted by aberrant at 9:20 AM on April 28, 2005

C_D - now there's an idea for a Googlebomb.

dick-hardening media center
posted by blag at 11:16 AM on April 28, 2005

« Older What's a good way to make friends when moving to a...   |   Temporary engagement ring ideas? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.