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What is the best HTPC software?

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ivwshane

Lifer
May 15, 2000
28,194
8,034
136
Only one mention of jriver?

Once I get my htpc hardware I'll be trying Xbmc (especially now that they support tuners) and jriver.

Feature wise, jriver seems to be the best with the only thing I'm not aware of it doing is gaming/emulation.

Wmc is nice but is so limited if you want to do anything other than watching movies, tv, pvr.
 

notposting

Diamond Member
Jul 22, 2005
3,483
10
81
Still waiting for the perfect piece of software, whether it runs on a PC or a device.

It would:

Offer a consistent interface for various media;
Have a good, well documented, plugin architecture;
Allow flexibility in metadata sources;
Flexible library options including online, attached, and local network;
Include online options such as Hulu (including standard Hulu if on a PC), Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, ESPN3, etc;
Excellent options available if needed for audio/video configuring and tweaking, though the automagical and basic settings should be simplified and capable enough for most users;
As with plugins, designed from the ground up and documented to allow easy and advanced theming options;
Allow for various input devices (IR, RF, key/ms, etc);
Whether integrated or via plugins, full codec support;
As above, whether an integrated engine or via plugin, transcoding support to send to other devices, and DLNA support for receiving video from devices.

I think that's about it :p ;)
 

WT

Diamond Member
Sep 21, 2000
4,817
57
91
I'll be damned if I'm going to be forced to buy powerdvd again. I bought powerdvd 9 when it came out and bought the upgrade to ultra. Now it wont play anything made in 2012 and cyberlink says they have EOL'd the software.
I was going to pick up PowerDVD 12 Ultra for $20 AR this past week, but read enough negative comments just like yours to hold off for now. Not even sure I want to switch to BD after building a sizable DVD library, but I'm sure I won't have a choice in a few years.
 

notposting

Diamond Member
Jul 22, 2005
3,483
10
81
I was going to pick up PowerDVD 12 Ultra for $20 AR this past week, but read enough negative comments just like yours to hold off for now. Not even sure I want to switch to BD after building a sizable DVD library, but I'm sure I won't have a choice in a few years.
I'm waiting for the holographic discs :p

Besides, I was cheering for HD-DVD during the HD Disc Wars. I'll be danged if I'm going to support Sony now :hmm:
 

thestrangebrew1

Diamond Member
Dec 7, 2011
3,049
175
106
I'm going to be putting together an htpc over the holidays and see a lot of folks suggesting xbmc. For my purposes, the htpc will only be used to watch movies I've ripped and placed on my server. No pvr or dvr recordings at this time (we have Directv hddvr box for that). I'm thinking, for a noob like me, maybe I'll give xbmc a shot.
 

joutlaw

Golden Member
Feb 18, 2008
1,108
2
81
I'm going to be putting together an htpc over the holidays and see a lot of folks suggesting xbmc. For my purposes, the htpc will only be used to watch movies I've ripped and placed on my server. No pvr or dvr recordings at this time (we have Directv hddvr box for that). I'm thinking, for a noob like me, maybe I'll give xbmc a shot.
XBMC will suit your needs well.

It's good for music too.
 

Mfusick

Senior member
Dec 20, 2010
500
0
0
I use all three...

Mostly Mediabrowser. I think it has a longer learning curve... but when you figure it out it's the slickest.

XBMC is not as slick... but it's a bit more simple to get it really nice.

You could install both and try them. Pick which you like.

There is no reason you can not install and try both on the same PC and library.
 

QueBert

Lifer
Jan 6, 2002
21,684
200
106
I'm going to be putting together an htpc over the holidays and see a lot of folks suggesting xbmc. For my purposes, the htpc will only be used to watch movies I've ripped and placed on my server. No pvr or dvr recordings at this time (we have Directv hddvr box for that). I'm thinking, for a noob like me, maybe I'll give xbmc a shot.
XBMC requires a bit of time to really get accustom to if you want to customize it. But out of the box for just a movie library it's solid. I use XBMC and to be the biggest pluses are how many great skins there are, how large the community is and how with the selection of plugins you can add just about any functionality you want. I know you said you'll be using it just for movies. But if you change your mind down the road it's good to have the ability to expand.

XBMC + large movie library + random script imho is my favorite. I press a button on my remote and it'll play a random un-watched movie from my library. I ripped all my DVD's & Blurays so I have about 400 total movies, maybe 200 I haven't watched. So it's can be pretty interesting to just watch a total random movie.
 

ivwshane

Lifer
May 15, 2000
28,194
8,034
136
So I got my new hardware for my htpc system and I installed windows 8 (not too impressed). I intended to install, jriver mc, mediaportal, and xbmc. Jriver mc was up first and it went ok but I couldn't figure out how to get my DVD iso collection to show up. I searched their website and found an answer on their forums, after that it was smooth sailing from there. I setup the default view for their theater view and got all my cover art updated (DVDs).

Next up was mediaportal, the install was smooth so next up was getting my DVD iso's to show up. I couldn't find any settings nor did there seem to be any support on their site to tell you how to do it. The best I could find was that you have to manually mount the image. After that and no Netflix support that I could see, I uninstalled it.

Last up was xbmc. Super easy install. It found my iso's (after manually typing the network path). Over all nice experience, very mouse friendly UI. Next up was getting Netflix installed...no go!? Come on!

If I could get the UI of xbmc and the features of jriver I'd be happy. The sound is awesome, I can finally watch a movie on normal volume and the picture quality is great. Having Hulu is also nice. I also like the music app which shows random images of the band you are listening to rather than a static image or a boring visualizer.

Later on I'll test xbmc and jrivers tv tuners capabilities as well as adding things like emulators to the mix.
 

notposting

Diamond Member
Jul 22, 2005
3,483
10
81
That reminded me that my dream version of WMC would include the Zune playback screen, be easily controlled from remote, and have Smart-DJ included.

MS came pretty close but it's obvious that there aren't really users and enthusiasts on their team or guiding their work (plus they get bored with projects not named Windows or Office after a few years and dismantle the teams, drop products, etc).
 

jhansman

Platinum Member
Feb 5, 2004
2,768
29
91
FWIW, I finally got my Sony BD player to stream Plex without whining or choking (it just couldn't/wouldn't deal with Serviio or Tversity after it's crappy Cinavia F/W update). New latest Plex media server is slicker than ever.
 
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aphanson17

Junior Member
Dec 12, 2012
1
0
0
Finding media center software was hard for me. I have tried numerous different ones, XBMC, WMC, WDTV and a few others. I haven't found any that I love as much as Kaleidescape. I decided that I would just build a replica since I couldn't find one I liked or afford Kaleidescape. I am just starting the project and it has been a lot of fun. You can check it out here and let me know what you think of it
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,214
38
91
I asked this same question when I did a HTPC census over at AVS.

Over 50% of the people use some form of WMC +/- Media Browser

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1394442/avs-htpc-census-2012-q1-results
The results of your poll are remarkably close to the HTPC system I'm building at the moment. My demands are pretty simple (no DVR, no TV tuner, no NAS, etc.) so I'm hoping my software setup can be kept very simple.

Reading through this thread has me pretty much scratching my head... software is not my strong point, and I don't want to spend hours trying to cobble together some sort of program that might work. I use WMP on my desktop (where my video HDDs are being loaded up using the faster 2500K processor...) for most of my viewing, but have started to dabble with WMC and XBMC just to see which one will work for us... I won't be the only one using the system so it has to be simple/stupid.

What's the difference between WMP and WMC? Obviously the UI, but are there other bonuses besides that with WMC?

You guys talk about the 'front end' and the 'back end...' I understand the front is the GUI, what purpose does the back end serve?
 

blackangst1

Lifer
Feb 23, 2005
20,178
631
126
WMC does lack a great remote support options....
I guess it depends on your needs. I use my Harmony with WMC and it does everything I need (navigate through music/video files, stop, pause, FF and REW). But my needs are simple.
 

blackangst1

Lifer
Feb 23, 2005
20,178
631
126
The results of your poll are remarkably close to the HTPC system I'm building at the moment. My demands are pretty simple (no DVR, no TV tuner, no NAS, etc.) so I'm hoping my software setup can be kept very simple.

Reading through this thread has me pretty much scratching my head... software is not my strong point, and I don't want to spend hours trying to cobble together some sort of program that might work. I use WMP on my desktop (where my video HDDs are being loaded up using the faster 2500K processor...) for most of my viewing, but have started to dabble with WMC and XBMC just to see which one will work for us... I won't be the only one using the system so it has to be simple/stupid.

What's the difference between WMP and WMC? Obviously the UI, but are there other bonuses besides that with WMC?

You guys talk about the 'front end' and the 'back end...' I understand the front is the GUI, what purpose does the back end serve?
WMP and WMC are integrated. Think of it as WMC lays on top of WMP. Youre right...WMC is a GUI or front end. You can use WMP independantly of WMC. Unless you integrate something like TotalMedia Theater 5, it will use WMP for playback. Just with the WMC GUI.
 

Jammor

Member
Sep 1, 2012
45
0
0
You guys talk about the 'front end' and the 'back end...' I understand the front is the GUI, what purpose does the back end serve?
Back end - the server where the processing is done and sometimes where recorded shows or ripped movies are stored. For PVR, the tuners are located in the server. Often times headless like an appliance in the corner but could also be doubling as a desktop somewhere in the home or office. Can use VM to multi purpose a desktop as an htpc / tv server AND other functions too. 'Back' meaning you don't necessarily have to see them; they might be hidden away somewhere.

Front end - the client with the display hardware / software that connects to the server on the network. Its where the codecs and renderers are located for decoding /displaying the videos, pics, music. Front ends can be small little devices about the size of a sandwich all the way up to a full size computer. 'Front' meaning they are commonly in close proximity to the TV where you're viewing or in the palm of your hand if streaming to mobile.

Some have one computer acting as both. Setting the htpc next to the TV or in the same room as the TV and then putting a video card in it and using it as both a server and client (back end and front end).

Not uncommon to store media on an NAS with shares mapped to the server (back end) allowing the client (front end) to play media from the NAS via the server.
 

thestrangebrew1

Diamond Member
Dec 7, 2011
3,049
175
106
One thing to note, I was checking out totalmedia theater and it says that TMT5 now includes Cinavia which is a big downer for me. I'm still looking into a few other software, probably going to try jriver next and maybe media browser.
 

WT

Diamond Member
Sep 21, 2000
4,817
57
91
One thing to note, I was checking out totalmedia theater and it says that TMT5 now includes Cinavia which is a big downer for me.
They are contractually obligated to add it. It wasn't by choice, it was forced by Sony. I still haven't found anything that integrates more cleanly in WMC than TMT5, so I may just buy it simply because I can't find a better solution.

Slyce continues to be vaporware, so for now just ignore Sony BD releases.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,587
469
126
So, I've normally been a bit of an advocate for XBMC, but I only used normal, file-based media. Yesterday, I added two tuners to my HTPC (1x ATSC, 4x CableCard). WMC just seems to work a lot better and be a lot cleaner, but it only supports up to 4 tuners. Although, to get a CableCard from Comcast, I had to upgrade to the HD package, which sort of negates even needing an ATSC tuner in the same machine. It only gives me ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS and CW, which I should get now. So, I might just move the ATSC tuner to a different PC for kicks!

Anyway, is it true that WMC will lock the tuner once it's set to use it? I wanted to try both WMC and XBMC, but neither XBMC nor the NPVR program would ever work. I also noticed that WMC wouldn't output Dolby Digital with PBS even when the program said it had Dolby Digital. I didn't have this issue when watching any major network, but I did with CW as well. Is that some weird issue with WMC?

I might stay with XBMC for networked media, but use WMC for TV. It sounds a bit convoluted, so I'm not sure if the Media Browser add-on mentioned earlier might help.
 

snoturtle

Golden Member
Apr 28, 2001
1,609
1
81
Try this to get around the 4 tuner limit
http://www.mychannellogos.com/Pages/TunserSalad.aspx



So, I've normally been a bit of an advocate for XBMC, but I only used normal, file-based media. Yesterday, I added two tuners to my HTPC (1x ATSC, 4x CableCard). WMC just seems to work a lot better and be a lot cleaner, but it only supports up to 4 tuners. Although, to get a CableCard from Comcast, I had to upgrade to the HD package, which sort of negates even needing an ATSC tuner in the same machine. It only gives me ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS and CW, which I should get now. So, I might just move the ATSC tuner to a different PC for kicks!

Anyway, is it true that WMC will lock the tuner once it's set to use it? I wanted to try both WMC and XBMC, but neither XBMC nor the NPVR program would ever work. I also noticed that WMC wouldn't output Dolby Digital with PBS even when the program said it had Dolby Digital. I didn't have this issue when watching any major network, but I did with CW as well. Is that some weird issue with WMC?

I might stay with XBMC for networked media, but use WMC for TV. It sounds a bit convoluted, so I'm not sure if the Media Browser add-on mentioned earlier might help.
 

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