My HTPC...a failure

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs' started by HeXen, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. HeXen

    HeXen Diamond Member

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    I have failed.
    I used XBMC as a front end and PowerDVD for BR's/DVD's. I used Advanced Launcher so i can launch Roms directly (console roms for emulators). Xpadder to map it out so i can just push a button and back to XBMC.
    Instant sheller to shell XBMC for a more seamless experience.

    However i ended up with a major problem. The wife said it was "overcomplicated". For one, the interface isn't the most seamless thing in the world, To launch any apps for example i have to click "programs, then "Program Addon's, then Scroll over to Advanced launcher then i can access the files....it's a bit tedious and the wife didn't like it right off the bat.

    Second. With XBMC off, if i put in a BR or DVD disc, it loads up automatically, however when XBMC is open, it will not. That became a major issue cause there is no immediate way to just play the movie without creating a launcher which for whatever reason, wouldn't open PowerDVD.

    Maybe they are fighting for control of full screen? Did i do something wrong?
    What i'd also like is a way to put the "Advanced Launcher app right on the main screen. More than 2 clicks is kinda silly to access something.
    The wife was really mad cause it's just too much and she doesn't want to re learn a bunch of crap..i agree it is tedious and i got this KB/mouse/TV remote that's actually pretty slick, however the Play buttons don't work on PowerDVD..not sure what it's default is, perhaps WMC and its a plug n play device so no way to map it.
    WMC wouldn't be so bad if it weren't so funky to hack in launchers, i used to have many issues using Media ccenter Studio which is now defunct

    Now i'm not sure if i want to bother with it at all. What sucks is i spent many hours getting everything setup, creating batch files..etc. I'd like a better front end more suited to launching stuff...like apps on a tablet.
    I tried other front ends that would be more suitable to do what i want like GameEX..etc but they are very ugly interface and not sleek or professional at all.
     
  2. monkey333

    monkey333 Senior member

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    It's hard to build such a system for the untrained. I feel for you, there has to be some give and take. Fortunately my wife is savvy enough and does not mind going to my computer and opening my media drive. I started a thread on a front end for vlc, but there doesn't to be such a thing. I have powerdvd and anydvd, but the latter seems to win the battle when inserting a blu ray. Consider using that PC a client and the media served from a server, might help.
     
  3. HeXen

    HeXen Diamond Member

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    hmm, seems odd that something like powerdvd couldn't just auto play and go fullscreen like it does on the desktop. I could build a simplistic desktop using stuff like DesktopX, Rocketdock..etc that would be simple and pretty to look at, however no simple way to scroll the apps. Using the little trackball on my remote for the mouse would feel too awkward and fumbly...i should have gotten a Gyro style one, work it kinda like a Wii remote.

    Hate to waste this hardware and buy an actual BR player, But realistically i should have done something else for my console emulators rather than build an HTPC. Live and learn
     
  4. NutBucket

    NutBucket Lifer

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    Or run WMC for media and you take extra steps to run console emulators. My wife has zero complaints with WMC but to be fair we use our PS3 to play anything off a disc.
     
  5. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Diamond Member

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    I stayed with WMC with Media Browser. I have XBMC installed and there is a snap in to go to it straight from WMC... it's a seamless transition, but I don't use it anymore... WMC/MB is just to easy. I have a simple W7 Rosewill remote that works OK (the buttons could be bigger...) and I have it so when the computer boots up, it goes right into WMC.

    Part of the reason I stuck with WMC is for my wife and daughter... I knew it had to be simple-stupid to operate or it would be a major FAIL... With the exception of a few hardware issues that I should have ironed out soon, it's been a big hit. My wife wanted something with all the movies all right there, and access to Netflix. Yes and yes.

    I have not tried to play a DVD (I don't have a BD player in the HTPC) but I expect it to auto play on WMC or I can go through the menu to get to it. (I'll have to try that tomorrow just to see...) We have a stand-alone BD player (that also streams Netflix if need be) that we have on a different TV input. If something goes wrong with the HTPC, they just switch it to HDMI #2 and turn on the BD player.

    Don't give up... someone may be along shortly with some setting to take care of your needs. Another of the reasons I stuck with WMC... keeping it simple-stupid... was for me... 'cause all that settings and permission stuff just make my brains ooose out my ears.
     
  6. HeXen

    HeXen Diamond Member

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    WMC plays Blu Rays?

    I thought about using Steam Big Screen mode as front end, but not sure if Powerdvd would autoplay or not nor if i exit an app if it will go right back into bigscreen mode or be minimized like most others. I had to map out xpadder to do ALT+F4, pause for 1 second then do ALT+Tab to exit the app and go back into XBMC...stupid it's not automatically setup to do it on it's own.

    Just seems wierd that after all these years, no one has made a front end for PC that functions like the ones used on Smart TV's and such. Their just freaking app launchers for crying out loud with large icons, make it key mapable or work with WMC remotes, allow other software to go fullscreen and exit back into itself and be done with it.

    Only thing i hate about WMC player is mostly that it's not customizable and kinda a pain to find proper plugins. It has quite a lot of scrolling with stuff i wouldn't use but i may give it another shot. It's not like i have anything to lose other than more time.
     
    #6 HeXen, Feb 16, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2013
  7. HeXen

    HeXen Diamond Member

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    I don't suppose anyone has a copy of Windows Media Studio do they? it's impossible to find anymore since the author removed his site.
     
  8. notposting

    notposting Diamond Member

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    I had to dig it up recently. Check Assasin's site, hack7mc, or maybe the new greenbutton.tv forums. Somewhere in there it should be around. If I remember I will try to see if I have an install file on our laptop...WMC on the laptop is all hosed up because it's my testbed for crap like that.

    And thankfully even with the testbed...nightly backups of the HTPC has saved my butt.
     
  9. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Diamond Member

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    Not BDs natively... I use AnyDVD/Handbrake on my main rig to rip them and then drop them on the HTPC. That's why I didn't bother with a BD player... we already have the stand-alone player and, honestly, we aren't going to mess with BD anymore.

    WMC isn't that bad, really. I think I added 3 easy plugins (Media Browser, the Media Browser service (to update and provide metadata,) and the plugin that takes it to XBMC. I actually don't use the 'movie' section on WMC, I use Media Browser... it's very user friendly and somewhat customizable... if not appearance-wise.

    I used Assassin's guide (the paid one) to help me set mine up and find the correct plugins. His guide really helped me getting the whole thing set up correctly. There is far more info in that guide... much of it I don't or won't understand... than what I used to square my HTPC away. :biggrin:
     
  10. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Diamond Member

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    You know... I haven't even thought about that. :confused: I need to pull my head out on that and find a solution. The OS is on an Agility3...
     
  11. notposting

    notposting Diamond Member

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    Probably an external drive and W7 built in backup is the easiest method. I have a WHS v1 for backup duties...worth it's primitive weight in gold ;)

    It also stores all of our music and DVD rips...duplicated...uncompressed :p :D

    I use MyMovies and then have Hulu and Netflix plugins on a menu strip. Should add the Amazon instant video plugin this weekend...

    As for MCS...I have an Assassin MCS directory zip, an Install_MCS zip, MCS Installer exe, and an MCSFix zip. Now I think at least one of them is the broken original one (tries to download online) but somehow I have it working...so if you find out what is needed and if links are broken for any of those, let me know.
     
  12. HeXen

    HeXen Diamond Member

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    I decided to get the remote control for the PS3 and use it instead. Haven't played it in ages anyway, Installed Netflix and Crackle, gives me a reason to play my old games again and room to bust out my G27 Wheel and Wheelstand pro. Previously i always had my PS3 at my computer desk, was always a pain to use the wheel. I just won't beable to play it as often but i realize now i rarely did before.

    So after some time updating and seeing what's changed, it's not that bad, i just wont' have streaming internet TV, Emulators, custom screens, and music but it's stupid considering we have Netflix and Comcast digital anyway. I have a converter to make my video's so the PS3 can read them.
    I will say the remote has way, way too many buttons on it, some not functional for TV or PS3, other's near useless, Like frame by frame step..who uses that crap? and no info on what the Yellow,blue,green..etc buttons are for, lol, actually this remote kinda pisses me off, but i guess we can't have it all.

    With my Roms i decided to just build a mini arcade cabinet since i basically have everything including hAPP joysticks and buttons. Cutting the wood to fit will be the pain. Not sure what i'll do with the BR drive, burn some BR's i guess.

    I came across that site before, frankly imo, it's b.s. to hold information hostage like that. That's like me hanging on to everything i've gathered and learned about something specific and charge you guys $$ for me to share that info. Though others may see it differently. Though i now realize it's just a crazy amount of time and effort to get one setup for personal taste, i just wish either more XBMC users would share their scripts or if the developers would implement some options for a more WMC like experience
     
    #12 HeXen, Feb 17, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  13. AnitaPeterson

    AnitaPeterson Diamond Member

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    For the life of me, I cannot understand this XBMC fad... or any media-center interface, for that matter. My HTPC works flawlessly with "regular" Win 7... everyone knows to operate that interface by now, so why use another? What does XBMC offer that you can't have through VLC, Winamp and whatever tuner/PVR program comes bundled with your capture card (if you need TV, I don't...)
    Strange...
     
  14. Binky

    Binky Diamond Member

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    It doesn't really "play" them, but PDVD and TMT are integrated into WMC and it is mostly transparent to the user.

    You should really try WMC and mediabrowser. Assassin has a good basic setup guide. The wife just might like it. Find some other way to integrate the emulators.
     
  15. HeXen

    HeXen Diamond Member

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    Flexibility mostly and secondary it's dependent on what you're doing. Not everyone wants to just use it for capture cards and Winamp. Windows 7 is not really a big screen friendly shell nor pretty for such but if it works for you then great.

    Though after all these years i don't really think its a fad, it's actually a niche. Most people just buy a Blu ray player from Walmart and call it a day. They have nice interfaces but of course limited to those specific media apps, most of which cost monthly subscriptions. I was trying to use XBMC to mimic them and function via remote control which would provide far more possibilities for consuming content, however you see as i have that it's a bit over complicated to get setup properly.

    PS3 has an ideal interface, Simple and designed for gamepad or remote use, but they are too restrictive, can't even remove the Amazon Prime App they force onto it and it's not very customizable.

    Mediabrowser looks interesting but is it seperate from WMC or does it require it? Does it include a web browser built in, Netflix, can you launch and close apps seamlessly? I didn't see any specific mentions, looks like another MythTV with a theme from just glancing.
    *oh i see now it's a WMC plugin basically. If i can customize it and launch apps seamlessly i'd give it a go. Looks more like it's something for those who store a lot of movies on their hard drives, which i don't, i only have a few videos.
     
    #15 HeXen, Feb 18, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
  16. poofyhairguy

    poofyhairguy Lifer

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    Personally OP I ran into the same problem in 2010 and my solution was to get a dedicated Blu Ray player to go alongside the XBMC box. The bonus of that is I use the Blu Ray players built in Netflix functionality which has higher WAF than any HTPC Netflix player.
     
  17. crashtech

    crashtech Diamond Member

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    Like AnitaPeterson opines, we just use the standard Win7 Home shell with Power DVD handling the playback chores. Honestly no one spends a lot of time looking at the interface, its disc playback, Netflix, YouTube, etc. in full screen over 90% of the time. We have a wireless keyboard with an integrated trackball, the only complaint is I can't find one with a trackball that works good and holds up over time. No one has complained that it is overly complicated. The most complicated thing that needs doing is browsing and mounting disk images with Daemon Tools Pro, but browsing for files is something even my 8 year-old can do.
     
  18. Binky

    Binky Diamond Member

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    Yes, MB is an interface primarily for launching movies and TV. There are plugins such as gamebrowser, but I can't comment on them.
    http://gamebrowser.tv/about.html

    It sounds like you want a full computer with a 10 foot interface. I'm not sure that XBMC or WMC are the answer to that. Maybe the default Win8 interface is what you're looking for...?
     
    #18 Binky, Feb 18, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
  19. assassin24

    assassin24 HTPC Moderator

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    That's an interesting opinion.

    I bet I have gotten more people into HTPC than most. Unfortunately, it takes money and time to test, compile, create, update and host this information.

    I understand that you don't see the value. Thankfully, most everyone that has used my guides disagrees with you which has allowed me to keep them updated and active.

    Good luck with your project.
     
  20. HeXen

    HeXen Diamond Member

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    Took me time and money to do lots of things i enjoy doing, but i still readily share the information. That's what hobbiests and enthusiasts do, the money and time is irrelevant for something you enjoy doing anyway.
    So obviously you must have hated to do it and chose to make a job of it for the sake of making money, but whatever, like i said, others may see it differently. I'd rather just go another route and the PS3 works out for the most part, i'll do the arcade build for the emulation.
     
  21. assassin24

    assassin24 HTPC Moderator

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    I have compiled and shared more information than many on this board and others combined. Some free. Some not.

    Good luck with your PS3.
     
  22. el-Capitan

    el-Capitan Senior member

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    I need to agree with most of you and I don't have an easy to use HTPC.

    I need to use WMC for my network tuner. Which is easy and fairly nice to navigate. However :
    a. Media Browser is struggling to play some of my content (either no sound, or playing at 1-2fps),
    b. The Netflix app sucks when occasionally loosing focus or having me trawl through several seasons of episodes just to play the next one,
    c. No Amazon Prime app,
    d. No Pandora app,
    e. Will not play DRM mp3 although machine is authorized and not an issue with WMP or Zune.

    So I have to use the Plex launcher for my content. Added bonus that it works with all our other PC/Macs and devices. But here my remote will not work.

    I launch a web browser for Prime, Netflix or Pandora.

    I run Zune for music.

    Playing BDR means launching PowerDVD which has recently decided not to be able to play my discs without me upgrading to the latest version.

    Everything works, but it is messy and cumbersome getting things to run. I was hoping Windows 8 would simplify things, however that does not work with my network cable tuners.

    *sigh*
     
    #22 el-Capitan, Feb 20, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
  23. Binky

    Binky Diamond Member

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    Point a above is easily solved by setting MB to open certain content in MPHC.

    Power DVD should be able to open mostly seamlessly from within WMC. Older version maybe?
     
    #23 Binky, Feb 20, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
  24. NutBucket

    NutBucket Lifer

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    I blame codecs for your crappy video playback. Integrated i5 graphics has no trouble playing back anything I throw at it. The only thing I had to setup in MB was daemon tools for ISOs.

    Also don't have any problems with the Netflix app besides sharing your displeasure with navigation. Minor quibble.
     
  25. nk215

    nk215 Senior member

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    I find that the key for my better half to use XBMC is to use an iPad as a remote control. Movie selections is done on the iPad (she doesn't use the remote control-mode of the app very often - Selections are done w/o looking up to the TV/projector screen).
     
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