5 Great Media Center Extenders
Windows Media Center really is quite a decent application to use for media management and Microsoft doesnâ€™t get enough credit for the steps itâ€™s taken to establish the PC as the home entertainment hub.
One of the lesser known features of WMC is that quite a large number of third party plugins are available, and Iâ€™ve made up a list of a few good ones. I intent to start using Media Center a lot more in future to manage my media.
Can remove all the annoying advertisements from TV shows you have recorded with Media Center. Considering the average half hour show will be reduced to 22 minutes Lifextender will save you a significant amount of hard drive space. Works only with Vista Media Center.
Update: The developer website is dead and while you find the program listed on third party download sites, I suggest you useÂ WtvWatcher instead which is compatible with all recent versions of the Windows operating system.
3) My Movies 2
The best free movie indexing service available for WMC. Once you add media to the library My Movies indexes it and automatically downloads data such as DVD covers, actor and director details and genres. Also has a separate Management program for fixing details.
An extension so you can watch YouTube videos from your TV. Discontinued for XP Media Center but a Vista version is available.
4) MCE Outlook
Gives handy access to full Outlook functionality including browsing and replying to mail, using the calendar, taking notes and creating contacts. Not sure if it works for Vista MCE.
5) Web Guide 4
Compatible with all Media Centersâ€™ and provides powerful remote viewing and control of your Media Center PC. This means you can watch TV from your mobile device and control recording functions of your WMC.
Update: Web Guide is no longer available.Advertisement
I recently installed an extender for a 2005 version of a MS Media Center PC. The MC PC is located in one area of the house and the extender and large plasma in another area of the house. The extender is CAT5 connected to the PC.
What surprised me about the extender was that it would not allow for DVD replay from the PC using the Extender remote and GUI on the plasma screen. DVD replay on the media center PCs interface is available but not “extended” to the Extender. All other functions are available via the Extender. (I assumed that DVD playback would be available via the Extender, which would have been a nice advantage for this type of equipment.)
The plasma TV also has a TIVO III connected to it and the Tivo is also networked to the media center PC. (The same PC also has Tivo Desktop installed on it allowing to play stored Tivo recordings from the PC.)
Comparing the Tivo versus Media Center output on the plasma screen coming from the PC, it’s no contest. The Tivo recordings played from the PC using Tivo Desktop are superior to the same Media Center recordings being piped through the Extender from the same PC. If one allows the Tivo to download for several minutes to the actual Tivo hard drive before playing, the Tivo remote controls the output a lot better than the Extender remote does for its playback.
My guess is that the recording capability is superior on the actual TIVO box verus the recording on the Media Center PC. (When the TV gets too full with content, I transfer the recordings to the networked Media Center PC. When it’s time to watch the stored Tivo content, I play it from the PC folder that shows up on the Tivo box GUI.)
If one has a choice in the matter and Tivo is available, I would recommend the Tivo solution. Although, if the Extender allowed for DVD playback from the PC, that might be for some the key factor in choosing between the two content delivery solutions.