Media Center or XBMC

Feb 18, 2013
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#1
I have googled this question, but alot of the stuff I read says that Media Center is dead and there are better options out there. I have used XBMC and really dont like it too much. Although it is nice, I just dont have the time to configure it correctly.

SO, is Windows Media Center easier to use than XBMC. Right now, I dont think I need the features that XBMC offers. The HTPC is more of a streaming box with movies stored on it. Not a home theater setup with maximized features to get the most out of movies. Not at this point anyway. Heck, I dont even own a Home Theater Reciever at this time.

Here is what I need Media Center to do:
Stream Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime and any other online streaming content.

Make it as user friendly for a non-power user/computer type person. THIS is the most important part. The family is tired of fighting the old computer.

Able to use a non complicated remote.

Computer will still need to be used for net browsing. I really want to use Mozilla for this. I am sure that WMC will not allow this, and the end users will have to go to a seperate desktop icon. This is ok.

I am on the "I cant stand windows 8 boat" because I like 7. I like the old windows format and dont care to go over to the newer windows 8. BUT I read where Win 7 will loose support in 2015. So if I do go with WMC, should I step up to 8 or stick with 7. Mind you, I would really like to use a tablet with touchscreen to surf the net on the remote while the television has the streaming content playing.

So Should I go with Windows Media Center? And which version of windows.

As a note, I went over to complete internet usage and cut off the land line phone and cable. It sucked anyway, and I save money this way. This is why I need it to be user friendly, so that others can watch TV while I am away at work.

Thanks.
 

crashtestdummy

Platinum Member
Feb 18, 2010
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#2
XBMC won't stream either Amazon or Netflix, so it's probably not a good option for you.
 
Jun 13, 2010
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#3
Check out MediaPortal, has a lot of those features available.
 

XavierMace

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2013
4,307
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#5
I installed XBMC used it once, then uninstalled it and went back to WMC. It didn't seem to do anything that WMC couldn't do, the interface was harder to navigate, and it was much more complicated to setup. My HTPC boots up right into WMC, can't get any easier than that. It's equally easy to navigate with a keyboard or remote.

XBMC does look prettier though, I guess I'll give it that.
 

Binky

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
4,046
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#7
Both! You can easily install Win7/Win8 and use media center and/or XBMC. Play with them, and pick the one "you" (i.e. the wife) like.

I'm not sure that XBMC looks better. Some of the skins look pretty good, but I always found the menu system a little clunky. Have you looked at media browser as a plugin for media center? IMO, this is the killer app for media center.
http://www.mediabrowser.tv/gallery
 

MPearl

Junior Member
Jun 28, 2013
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#8
Here is what I need Media Center to do:
Stream Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime and any other online streaming content.

Make it as user friendly for a non-power user/computer type person. THIS is the most important part. The family is tired of fighting the old computer.

Able to use a non complicated remote.
I know this isn't one of the two options you give, but why not just get a Roku. It would certainly solve all your problems, does everything you require, and is simple enough for anyone to use it and the remote. They are pretty cheap as is, but now with the new Roku3 out, you could probably pick up a used 2 XD for next to nothing. I see a bunch in my area on craigslist for under $50.

I run a WD Live HUB, a WD Live Plus, a Roku 2 XD and an XBMC box. Out of all of them, the Roku is the only one my GF can just pickup the remote, find what she wants and start the channel without any help. Very user friendly and built specifically to stream online content.

Good Luck

-MP
 

Fallen Kell

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
5,276
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#9
Another vote on Media Portal...
 

SheHateMe

Diamond Member
Jul 21, 2012
7,251
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#10
I like XMBC...but I spent a lot of time getting it how I want it. If you don't have patience to learn and spend time config-ing it....don't use it. Use media portal.

Im not sure why someone said a roku is the only thing their GF can just pick up a remote and use....XBMC, is not hard to use at all. I'm not sure how the concept of having arrow buttons and a select button would be lost on a user trying to use XBMC.

idk...maybe its the remote you use...I'm just saying I've had no problems. I'm sure I could coach my 6 year old sister on how to use it and she'd be just fine.
 
Nov 27, 2001
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#11
Keep in mind that to use Windows Media Center in Windows 8, you must have a Professional license and you have to pay $15 extra for the software. It comes for free with Windows 7 Home Premium and above.

Personally, I use both WMC and XBMC. WMC is what I use for live TV (Ceton InfiniTV 4 card) and XBMC for everything else. I have an icon in WMC that automatically loads XBMC for me and then reloads WMC when I quit out of XBMC.
 

SolMiester

Diamond Member
Dec 19, 2004
5,331
0
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#12
Í have used both XBMC & WMC, however WMC doesnt play well with a big collection....I have 600 movies and about 40k songs and music videos....WMC runs like a dog with all that....XBMC didnt have any worry with the amount of data, however as the media library is for the whole house, I now use Plex Media center with the windows client for desktops, DLNA client for TV, and Roid\Apple apps for the tablets.....

I wouldnt go back to WMC..................ever!
 

tential

Diamond Member
May 13, 2008
7,363
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#13
I installed XBMC used it once, then uninstalled it and went back to WMC. It didn't seem to do anything that WMC couldn't do, the interface was harder to navigate, and it was much more complicated to setup. My HTPC boots up right into WMC, can't get any easier than that. It's equally easy to navigate with a keyboard or remote.

XBMC does look prettier though, I guess I'll give it that.
I'm not sure when you used XBMC, but I did the same thing awhile ago.

Now, I EXCLUSIVELY use XBMC. Because XBMC is free, and the guides to set up Media Center well cost cash, I suggest you use XBMC first. It literally takes no more than 15 minutes to setup.

I resetup XBMC again to give it a second shot, and I do NOT use anything else. My suggestion is read a quick start up guide to XBMC, and install a skin, then see if you like it. XBMC has made large strides over the last year.

Here is how my XBMC library looks like using the skin Ace, which is a new "light" skin added from the developer of the most popular skin Aeon. I just took these.












Í have used both XBMC & WMC, however WMC doesnt play well with a big collection....I have 600 movies and about 40k songs and music videos....WMC runs like a dog with all that....XBMC didnt have any worry with the amount of data, however as the media library is for the whole house, I now use Plex Media center with the windows client for desktops, DLNA client for TV, and Roid\Apple apps for the tablets.....

I wouldnt go back to WMC..................ever!
XBMC has been updated so you don't even need to use Plex for the most part. Maybe if you're using your phone to access your library on the go. But you can use UPNP now to access the library as well. So just install XBMC on a device, add the main library using UPNP and boom, you can see and play everything. Works pretty well. I think Gotham update will make this even better apparently. I never used WMC with that large of a library, but it just wouldn't work well at all for me. Then again, while I only have 300 movies, I have about 1TB of TV shows, or 56 full TV series. Now though, I'm up to much larger numbers lol. Getting another 4TB drive to make my total storage 10TB.

I like XMBC...but I spent a lot of time getting it how I want it. If you don't have patience to learn and spend time config-ing it....don't use it. Use media portal.

Im not sure why someone said a roku is the only thing their GF can just pick up a remote and use....XBMC, is not hard to use at all. I'm not sure how the concept of having arrow buttons and a select button would be lost on a user trying to use XBMC.

idk...maybe its the remote you use...I'm just saying I've had no problems. I'm sure I could coach my 6 year old sister on how to use it and she'd be just fine.
Yes, I don't understand this either. Some people say XBMC is hard to navigate but I just don't understand this at all. You literally can navigate with 6 buttons. Up, Down, Left, Right, Back, Select. You can add Info there if you want as well. If you enable KIOSK mode (which makes it so people can't get into the settings), it's almost IMPOSSIBLE to mess up.

XBMC has a way to do just about ANYTHING you want. Most of the problems are usually user related. I know this because I've created a LOT of problems for myself. I'm just amazing at making bad things happen lol. But if I setup XBMC, enable KIOSK mode, and let someone go at it without telling them ANYTHING about my skin setup, I bet they'd learn pretty quickly. Considering those 6 buttons I just mentioned are the only ones you actually need.

When we get to addons... XBMC is just extremely superior. I've used Media Portal I'm pretty sure, it was alright, I used XBMC back a year or two ago and it was meh, WMC just wasn't appealing without the additional paid addons and I wasn't willing to do that (only 15 dollars lol), but XBMC was just amazing now.

IF I was OP, I'd setup XBMC, play with it for 2 weeks and see how you like it. The customization features in XBMC, and within skins you DL will take awhile to get used to. There is just SO MUCH you can customize. I still stumble across new settings and ways to use them. If you don't like it then try Media Portal. The only thing with XBMC I dislike, is that if something doesn't add to your library, it can be hard to find it. But I literally add hundreds of movies sometimes, and have ZERO CLUE what the movie is, what it's about, or well anything about what I'm adding as I really don't pay attention sometimes to the media I accumulate. If you aren't like me, who will get 100+ movies at a time, have no clue what they are, and add them, then you probably won't have a problem. I only have a problem with a couple movies adding, and thats because the folder/file name isn't correct. Once you get used to adding media, you'll realize that the file name (TDKR.avi) isn't really descriptive and you'll just make it (The Dark Knight Rises (year)) and be done with it.

My Setup:
XBMC
VPN (May add CouchPotato or Sickbeard or whatever as I learn more)
Plugins (Dunno if I'm allowed to list my plugins)

I have more content than I'll ever watch. Sometimes, I think I just add content because I'm a hoarder and like to see my collection grow and like to scroll through menus lol.
 
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Nov 27, 2001
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#14
Here is how my XBMC library looks like using the skin Ace, which is a new "light" skin added from the developer of the most popular skin Aeon. I just took these.
Hmm I like the way that skin looks. I'll have to check it out. The only negative is that I don't really use the whole Movies and TV Shows sections. I just go to Videos - Files every time. I still get the pictures and junk because I have separate scrapers that run on my server that grab all the data.

I also really need to get around to fixing my MySQL database that I use with XBMC. The annoying thing is that if you ever update XBMC, chances are that they changed database formats yet again, and you have another database in MySQL. I shudder at the thought of using SHOW DATABASES. :p

Yes, I don't understand this either. Some people say XBMC is hard to navigate but I just don't understand this at all. You literally can navigate with 6 buttons. Up, Down, Left, Right, Back, Select. You can add Info there if you want as well. If you enable KIOSK mode (which makes it so people can't get into the settings), it's almost IMPOSSIBLE to mess up.
I've had people complain to me about disabling subtitles, which honestly isn't that easy to do in most front-ends.
 

MPearl

Junior Member
Jun 28, 2013
4
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#16
Im not sure why someone said a roku is the only thing their GF can just pick up a remote and use....XBMC, is not hard to use at all. I'm not sure how the concept of having arrow buttons and a select button would be lost on a user trying to use XBMC.

idk...maybe its the remote you use...I'm just saying I've had no problems. I'm sure I could coach my 6 year old sister on how to use it and she'd be just fine.
Let's call it empirical evidence. She had the choice of learning to use and watch the same streaming video on two different WD devices, a Roku or a media server running XBMC (all using the same Harmony remote) and chose Roku finding it the easiest to understand and use. Made no difference to me. I am sure had their only been one option, she would have learned to use any of them.

OP stated specifically for streaming media. Roku would not be my last choice for local media for obvious reasons.

-MP
 

Zxian

Senior member
May 26, 2011
579
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#17
I've had people complain to me about disabling subtitles, which honestly isn't that easy to do in most front-ends.
Depending on what remote you have, you can change the mapping of a button to cycle through the subtitles, or turn subtitles on and off.

http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Keyboard_controls

I'm in the process of getting my Harmony remote setup to control everything in kiosk mode. Haven't found anything that I can't do yet with XBMC (in terms of basic someone-picks-it-up-and-uses-it functionality).
 
Nov 20, 2005
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#18
Sounds like you need media center.

You go for XBMC when you want multiple entertainment systems in multiple rooms with the same library (so stop in one room, finish in another), the same interface, and a unified library composed of many different network sources.

XBMC is a spaceship. You need a hang glider.
 

tential

Diamond Member
May 13, 2008
7,363
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#19
Hmm I like the way that skin looks. I'll have to check it out. The only negative is that I don't really use the whole Movies and TV Shows sections. I just go to Videos - Files every time. I still get the pictures and junk because I have separate scrapers that run on my server that grab all the data.

I also really need to get around to fixing my MySQL database that I use with XBMC. The annoying thing is that if you ever update XBMC, chances are that they changed database formats yet again, and you have another database in MySQL. I shudder at the thought of using SHOW DATABASES. :p



I've had people complain to me about disabling subtitles, which honestly isn't that easy to do in most front-ends.
Hit T. Disables it instantly.
http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Keyboard_controls
I only know of this stuff because trust me, I complained about everything you guys said and more haha. I agree with the MySQL database stuff. It's frustrating. I can't wait for a server side XBMC. It's in the works apparently. I think you can use upnp to basically emulate it, but I'm just waiting for it to be fully done.

Surprised you always go through Videos though. I like having it separated into Movies and TVShows but that's my personal preference. Other skins do exactly how you want it. Aeon Nox for example has that option, I just disable it though as it distracts me. To each his own though! Second I get my LTC running and I have extra cash I plan on donating to some of the skin developers. They put in a lot of work to make XBMC features actually accessible.

Edit: Seems Xzian got me on it lol. Ya, I really don't think I've found something I can't simply do in XBMC. XBMC just takes more work to setup I think but the work is more than worth the reward. I can see why some people wouldn't want to do it, similar to how some people get macbooks because they simply work (good balance of parts usually) while some laptops are just a horrific balance of parts.
I personally prefer the older Apple TV-inspired Quartz theme: http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=115993
On my 70 inch TV, it's just too much black space. I like colors. Pretty colors. But that's the beauty of XBMC. It's whatever you want it to be.
 
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Nov 27, 2001
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#20
Hit T. Disables it instantly.
http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Keyboard_controls
I only know of this stuff because trust me, I complained about everything you guys said and more haha.
Hmm that might be handy. I normally just use HippoRemote's XBMC profile to handle that abnormal stuff.

I agree with the MySQL database stuff. It's frustrating. I can't wait for a server side XBMC. It's in the works apparently. I think you can use upnp to basically emulate it, but I'm just waiting for it to be fully done.
I don't know if we even need to go that far. Some sort of automated process upon install that could check your advanced settings file for a SQL server path, and ask if you want to migrate or something like that.

Surprised you always go through Videos though. I like having it separated into Movies and TVShows but that's my personal preference. Other skins do exactly how you want it. Aeon Nox for example has that option, I just disable it though as it distracts me. To each his own though! Second I get my LTC running and I have extra cash I plan on donating to some of the skin developers. They put in a lot of work to make XBMC features actually accessible.
I think it's because my original scrapers only ever grabbed the artwork for titles, so because I lacked metadata, nothing ever showed up in Movies or TV Shows. Also, it's really not that hard to use the other way either, because my movies, TV shows and anime are all on separate drives anyway.
 

tential

Diamond Member
May 13, 2008
7,363
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#21
I see. I like the setup the way mine is and the way XBMC defaults. But then again, if you want to keep your Movies, TVShows, And Anime separate then I can see where that'd be handy. Right now all my TVShows/Anime show up under TV, but if my family is browsing it, they most likely aren't watching Bleach, Blue Gender, TriGun, or every Gundam series I've watched so far. That kind of clutters the TVShows section. So I can see where you'd definitely like your setup.

Then again, I can easily just use XBMC to exclude anime genre from TVShows and put it in its own section probably.

Really just an amazing program. Now that I think of it, I got my 1.5 TB drive sitting in my old PC that I don't even have hooked up with tons of media. Going to slot that into my brand new HTPC now =D.

Edit: Gosh, seeing it full made me so sad. I hope a 4TB Seagate backup plus goes on sale quick so I can retrieve my data off of the current one I got and add some more content! You can never have too much content! I can't wait to setup Psuedo TV now.
 
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Nov 27, 2001
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#22
Then again, I can easily just use XBMC to exclude anime genre from TVShows and put it in its own section probably.
I was actually going to come in here and ask how to do this, because I switched to using that Ace skin, set the content for the sections, but there isn't an anime category and I don't want anime mixed with TV. Anime is separate to me because it also includes anime movies as well as ones broadcast on TV.

Edit: Gosh, seeing it full made me so sad. I hope a 4TB Seagate backup plus goes on sale quick so I can retrieve my data off of the current one I got and add some more content! You can never have too much content! I can't wait to setup Psuedo TV now.
I ripped the 4TB drive out of one of those externals, and it's working pretty well for me so far! Although, I'm not sure what to do with the casing now. :p I can keep the USB part as a USB 3 adapter, but I already have a few of those anyway!
 

SheHateMe

Diamond Member
Jul 21, 2012
7,251
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#23
Yea, if you want 4TB right now, I'd go external. You can find some dude on YT cracking it open. Its the same drive as the one that cost $20 extra as an internal. So, I am sitting on 12TB right now in an unraid server thats serving up all my stuff to XMBC.

The good thing about XMBC is that you can also launch other programs with it. Right now, I am figuring out how to launch Hulu Desktop so I can watch Hulu in XBMC and also how to launch emulators. I also would like to set up custom home menu buttons for all of these operations.

XBMC has a wonderful community where you can figure out how to do all of these things.

It can be fun and a pain in the ass at the same time. But trust me, OP...once you get XBMC tweaked and running how you want it to....it will be amazing.
 

Edgy

Senior member
Sep 21, 2000
357
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#24
...I have used XBMC and really dont like it too much. Although it is nice, I just dont have the time to configure it correctly.
...
.
Simple fact is that for your requirements (and probably for unique requirements applying to many people) there are no media center front end that would meet all individual needs without fairly significant investments in time and effort to customize. And that's the bottom line - either give up things you want or invest the time to make them work with your chosen media center front end.

Having experience with XBMC - I am fairly certain it can do everything u want (even Mozilla browsing in limited fashion) but the time and effort to setup would not be insignificant.

Other media center front end may meet your requirements but I HIGHLY doubt if they require any less amount of time and effort to set it up the way you want it.
 

tential

Diamond Member
May 13, 2008
7,363
0
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#25
I was actually going to come in here and ask how to do this, because I switched to using that Ace skin, set the content for the sections, but there isn't an anime category and I don't want anime mixed with TV. Anime is separate to me because it also includes anime movies as well as ones broadcast on TV.



I ripped the 4TB drive out of one of those externals, and it's working pretty well for me so far! Although, I'm not sure what to do with the casing now. :p I can keep the USB part as a USB 3 adapter, but I already have a few of those anyway!
Wow, I almost told you it wasn't possible lol. Stupid me, the guy who codes this skin is pretty damn good so I should have known it would be.

Hit left twice.
Customize Main Menu.
Video Node
Then you can create 2 new nodes. Since you separate your Anime and TVShows into two separate folders already, just create 2 new Nodes one for Anime and one for TVShows and add those both. Then disable the current TVShows and you're done.

Edit: Tested this to ensure it works and it does. Ace uses all caps for the menu names so just use that to keep it looking the same as everything else. He really never ceases to amaze me with the customization things he has hidden in the skin. To think this is skin is a "lite" skin for him and Aeon MQ4 is the "full featured" lol. I was even dumb enough to think the Game Launcher addon didn't work on this skin. Nope, I just had it configured wrong so it didn't show up.
Edit2: After looking at my current library, and my old library, merging the two puts me at over 100 television shows. I think I'll split my TVShows and Anime up as well.
Edit3: So you don't troll yourself like I did and think that you lost parts of your library. If certain titles don't show up, ensure that the new Node is sorting by Title. I was experimenting with Video Playlists (Adding new sections for HD Movies and SD Movies) and it doesn't default to Title sorting. I thought I had lost a bunch of titles but nope, I hadn't!
 
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