22 Feb 2012, 07:48

XBMC + Windows Media Center make surprisingly great bedfellows


#“XBMC + Windows Media Center make surprisingly great bedfellows”

Our main TV PC spends most of its time running the awesome XBMC software. It has everything you need in a media player except one - recording. Whilst there are forks of it out there which work with the MythTV or Media Portal recording software, I’ve never had much success configuring either reliably.

As I mentioned before, I accidentally discovered late last year that Windows Media Center is fantastic at handling TV. It detected both my PCI Satellite card and USB Saorview stick, scanned all the tv stations and then gave me a full integrated multi-week TV guide for both. Not only does it show TV beautifully but it records it too. And does series-link perfectly.

However, I don’t use it as the main media player because it is rubbish for playing AVIs. Between AV sync problems, the lack of a simple directory browser and the lack of codecs, it’s not worth the hassle.

Then last night I had a brainwave. Could XBMC play the WMC recordings? The signs weren’t good as the recordings were in some format I’d never heard off. But I added the directory as a source on XBMC and kaboom, it worked perfectly!

You don’t need to leave WMC running to do this as it has background processes taking care of recording. So I only have to start it up to configure new recordings or watch live TV.

If your media PC runs Windows, give this a try, it works so well. Apart from the “why did they bother” hamstrung versions of Windows Vista and 7, I think WMC comes with all Win PCs.

If I ever revert that PC to Ubuntu, I may try the XBMC-PVR plus MythTV again since it’d be ever better to be able to watch live TV inside XBMC.

Speaking of which. Two projects which may be of interest:

  1. XBMC Live USB - Put Ubuntu + XBMC on a USB stick and try it out on your PC. Great way to see if it works with your hardware without having to install anything.
  2. Ubuntu TV - Not content with pushing that Unity rubbish onto your Desktop, now they want to destroy your TV viewing experience too. I’ll still give it a try when it’s released.

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