Alternatives to MCE?

PaulP1966

Standard Member
Hi, newbie to this forum

I currently have a home built PC that I store all the usual multi media stuff on. Photo's, Movies, music etc. I'm getting a plasma TV and want to either use it, or my old laptop as an AV jukebox.

I have sky+ so all my recording needs are ok (and I have a hardware mpeg2 encoder on the odd occasion that I want to record to disc).

What I'm after is some software that will scan the local discs for multi media files, including any shared or external drives, which I can then control from a remote. Efectively I'm looking for MCE without having to have a specific spec pc, and without the need for tuners for recording.

Anything come to mind or is MCE the way forward
 

GarryF

Well-known Member
the best feature of mce is the epg and the ability to get close to sky+ functionalty, doesn't sound like that's what your doing anways.

A few free alternatives are GB-PVR and media portal.
 

Slinkoff

Novice Member
As much as I like MCE for it's PVR functionality, playing downloaded video and its picture slideshow features, I think its music library sucks. The library is slow, the search from entering the first letter or two is often inaccurate and the interface is cumbersome. I often find myself dropping out of the MCE frontend and using the much improved WMP11 Beta for controlling music, but then I need to use my mouse so it defeats the object of having a media centre controlled by a remote. I'm hoping that Vista's MCE music library implementation has a lot more in common with WMP11.
 

Slinkoff

Novice Member
Slinkoff said:
the search from entering the first letter or two is often inaccurate
HiZ said:
Can you explain this more as I have no issues at all.
I know you probably haven't, it only affects smaller collections. If I add a couple of hundred albums the search works perfectly. 1200+ albums though and it's next to useless, press "F" and it will jump to albums beginning with T or something random, press "VER" and it will jump to halfway through albums beginning with J or B or anywhere! It's very bizarre and seemingly random.
 

andrew1810

Novice Member
I use SageTV as a PVR only at the moment and it works well.

I'm on an old version so it doesn't look as good as MCE, but runs on my lowly Epia M1000 without problems.

As a PVR it does everything I want, record TV, built in guide, pause, ff, rew etc. and has an add-on web interface.

The only drawbacks so far I've found:

1) No direct freeview support on my version (haven't checked the new one)
2) Recordings aren't saved in their own sub-folders, just all in one large folder
3) Favourites can't be told only to record within certain times (not sure if any can do this though)


Overall, I've been using it for a while now and have no intention of changing, except possibly to upgrade to a newer version.
 

herbs

Novice Member
andrew1810 said:
I use SageTV as a PVR only at the moment and it works well.

I'm on an old version so it doesn't look as good as MCE, but runs on my lowly Epia M1000 without problems.

As a PVR it does everything I want, record TV, built in guide, pause, ff, rew etc. and has an add-on web interface.

The only drawbacks so far I've found:

1) No direct freeview support on my version (haven't checked the new one)
2) Recordings aren't saved in their own sub-folders, just all in one large folder
3) Favourites can't be told only to record within certain times (not sure if any can do this though)


Overall, I've been using it for a while now and have no intention of changing, except possibly to upgrade to a newer version.
I suggest taking alook at gbpvr which sorts all these problems.
Also to the orignal question look at gbpvr with the myvideos and my music plugins.
 

chris555r

Novice Member
Another vote here for MediaPortal - free - actively being developed and improved by a strong community. However only works on an MS platform with .Net2.

I use mine on an MCE machine and prefer it, especially its ability to cope with video files of all types. Response to remote commands (I use an MS remote) is slightly slower.

Cheers - Chris
 

mikeaitch

Active Member
You might want to take a look at Xlobby. It's free, highly customisable and is used as the front end for the Uvem htpc

:smashin:
 

springtide

Distinguished Member
mikeaitch said:
You might want to take a look at Xlobby. It's free, highly customisable and is used as the front end for the Uvem htpc

:smashin:
Just had a quick look at Xlobby.
Is there DVB-T tuner support? I can't seem to find it anywhere!
 

MarkSS

Novice Member
andrew1810 said:
I use SageTV as a PVR only at the moment and it works well.
....

The only drawbacks so far I've found:

1) No direct freeview support on my version (haven't checked the new one)
2) Recordings aren't saved in their own sub-folders, just all in one large folder
3) Favourites can't be told only to record within certain times (not sure if any can do this though)
I'm a SageTV user and would agree the PVR functionality is excellent but the media features are a bit lacking so far. That said, there's a major update due to hit public beta next week which should address this. Currently have 4 freeview tuners + sky via SDI in an HTPC running Sage, client running on an old laptop in the bedroom and the Placeshifter on my work laptop so I can watch TV while I'm working away from home (god send for someone that spends far too much time in hotels!). Following up your points:

1) DVB-T support has been beta for sometime and many users have it working successfully. Wasn't stable for me so I still use SBDARecorder (user add-on) for freeview. Fingers crossed DVB-T will be finished in next weeks release

2) Lots of people have requested this so it may crop up but as Sage would probably prefer everyone to buy their client application to access files, perhaps not.

3) Favourites can be restricted by day and/or time in the current release, its under advanced options on the favourite menu. The time is however a 1 hour window, you can't specify between 1pm-5pm as one favorite for example. You could of course create 4 favourites for that example, 1 for each hour.
 

jameson_uk

Novice Member
ejp998 said:
Hi, newbie to this forum

I currently have a home built PC that I store all the usual multi media stuff on. Photo's, Movies, music etc. I'm getting a plasma TV and want to either use it, or my old laptop as an AV jukebox.

I have sky+ so all my recording needs are ok (and I have a hardware mpeg2 encoder on the odd occasion that I want to record to disc).

What I'm after is some software that will scan the local discs for multi media files, including any shared or external drives, which I can then control from a remote. Efectively I'm looking for MCE without having to have a specific spec pc, and without the need for tuners for recording.

Anything come to mind or is MCE the way forward
I use Meedio for pics, vids and music as this has the most slick interface for these parts. The TV side is a little flaky but if (as I do) you have sky+ then it is not really an issue. Highly recommended

Also check out http://www.mythtv.org/ it is a linux based HTPC app which is quite nice and removes your dependancy on Windows alltogether
 

mikeaitch

Active Member
springtide said:
Just had a quick look at Xlobby.
Is there DVB-T tuner support? I can't seem to find it anywhere!
Not sure, but try looking at the Uvem specs , as I said, it uses Xlobby . the dragon skin I use has a page for TV with epg, schedules, recordings etc, is that what you mean?. Xlobby should be able to run any ext app with the right command line

I think the plugin you need is XLTV do a search on the Xlobby forum for more details
 

sean.pittaway

Standard Member
The whole point of xlobby is that you can make it do anything that you want...

The only problem is that its a bit of a bitch untill you get to greps with the skin editor and plugns...

I now have music/dvd/weather setup the way that I WANT IT, so i am now looking at the tv side. There is EPG functionallity built into xlobby, so its simply (an understatement :)) a case of linking it to you tv player of choice (nebula digitv for me).

The xltv plugin supports a few tv players, so if you are happy with that it should be easy to get it working.


Personally, i wouldent use anything else, MCE/MediaPortail et-al all have to many little things that anoy me, in xlobby at least i can make it do what i want (and use the software that i want eg thertertek for dvd playback) and steve (the auther) is very helpfull if you want a feature adding.
 

springtide

Distinguished Member
sean.pittaway said:
The whole point of xlobby is that you can make it do anything that you want...

The only problem is that its a bit of a bitch untill you get to greps with the skin editor and plugns...

I now have music/dvd/weather setup the way that I WANT IT, so i am now looking at the tv side. There is EPG functionallity built into xlobby, so its simply (an understatement :)) a case of linking it to you tv player of choice (nebula digitv for me).

The xltv plugin supports a few tv players, so if you are happy with that it should be easy to get it working.


Personally, i wouldent use anything else, MCE/MediaPortail et-al all have to many little things that anoy me, in xlobby at least i can make it do what i want (and use the software that i want eg thertertek for dvd playback) and steve (the auther) is very helpfull if you want a feature adding.
Doesn't sound the right product for me!

I just want it to work reliably - I spend enough time in front of computers at work, so tinkering to get stuff working at home is a bit like a busmans holiday!
 

originalbadboy

Novice Member
Personally I have not found a single peice of software that works better than MCE....

I have tried pretty much all the alternatives, and they either had issues with my hardware, or had an interface that was rubbish, or had silly bugs that made them unusable...

Saying that Media Portal would be my alternative to MCE if I HAD to use one. The interface is good, and if you use it as a music portal it works pretty well. I just couldnt get it to work properly with my tuner card, to the point where it would blue screen windows, which has never happened with MCE.

MCE is expensive, but it does what its designed to do, so unless something comes out that betters it, I will continue to use it.
 

springtide

Distinguished Member
originalbadboy said:
Personally I have not found a single peice of software that works better than MCE....

I have tried pretty much all the alternatives, and they either had issues with my hardware, or had an interface that was rubbish, or had silly bugs that made them unusable...

Saying that Media Portal would be my alternative to MCE if I HAD to use one. The interface is good, and if you use it as a music portal it works pretty well. I just couldnt get it to work properly with my tuner card, to the point where it would blue screen windows, which has never happened with MCE.

MCE is expensive, but it does what its designed to do, so unless something comes out that betters it, I will continue to use it.

I've found exactly the same. MCE is so much further ahead than the others in terms of usability and reliability. I'm not sure I'd say MCE is expensive - £80 is pretty good for an OS + Media Centre. Just a shame MS don't just sell the MCE port to add onto your existing OS. Also a big shame there is no way to run MCE on full XP Pro. If the was an addon to WinXP, I would have bought it by now even if it was £150.

I run MCE in my HTPC, and various other Media apps on my desktop (which needs to run XP Pro - so can't swap over to MCE). The only other application I have found to be considered "good" is the Black Gold Media Centre software. It's not MCE by any streatch of the imagination, but is reliable. The older version also works well with the Nova-T cards, but the application isn't designed for use using anything other than BG tuner cards.

MP is a big CPU and memory hog, thats apart from the stability issues. Maybe it's just me who sees MP taking 250-300MB RAM, before I try and change channel too fast and get the whole thing locking up and having to kill off the application.
Shame - its a great project and I do usually try every release.

Maybe I'm not giving the other applications a chance.... but most of the apps (including trial versions of pay products) have been uninstalled within 2 days - generally due to the application crashing (multiple times during the trial) for some reason or another.
 

jameson_uk

Novice Member
Maybe I'm not giving the other applications a chance.... but most of the apps (including trial versions of pay products) have been uninstalled within 2 days - generally due to the application crashing (multiple times during the trial) for some reason or another.
I found it was not so much crashing that was a problem but general usability and lack of features.

MCE gives you a nice polished interface and it "works" with TV which IMHO is a big plus over MP but you do loose some flexibility with this. I personally use Meedio as I have a Sky+ box for TV so only use it for music / pics / DVDs. In this respect Meedio is far more powerful than MCE and the ability for me to get all sorts of music (I understand that MCE will only stream WMA) via my favourite music player and ASIO.
 

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