Hacking Windows 7 Media Center

Top 10 Windows 7 Media Center Plugins for Summer 2010

by @ 12:30 pm on May 14th, 2010 in plugins with 39 Comments

Media Center Plguins Due to the popularity of our (fairly outdated) top five plugins post here at Hack7MC let’s take a look at some of the new plugins that have come out since then and look at what is available now. Let’s not limit it to purely plugins however instead focusing on the whole range of programs that make your Windows 7 Media Center run more smoothly. The Media Center is supposed to be a hub for the whole family, providing not only the latest entertainment but also information. Getting the latest weather and even the latest YouTube sensation have become critical to the Media Center experience. Let’s take a look at some of the best plug-ins and programs for getting it done.

1. Media Center Master

Media Center MasterMedia Center Master gets the top spot because no matter what movie library plugin you’re running it needs metadata, likely tons of it. The program features automatic metadata retrieval for your entire collection, simply point it in the right direction and Media Center Master does the rest. Under constant development as well as supported by a single man via the MCM forums the program has continued to expand from humble roots to support a number of metadata formats and options.

For users of the native Windows Media Center movie library simply pointing MCM at the same directories and letting it go to work is enough to fill out the complete metadata for most people’s entire collections. For those using alternatives you may want to run the program locally in the background and let it pick up new additions automatically using an incredibly accurate system for selecting the proper movie. Of course, there are a number of advanced options as well, especially for third-party plugin users, allowing users to download backdrops, posters, actor images and more with out raising a finger.

media center master results Though not technically a plugin, Media Center Master goes a long way toward putting a finishing polish on your Windows Media Center setup no matter which movie library used. Nothing makes a Media Center look more unsightly than an incomplete set of metadata in your movie library while showing off to the friends. Make sure you’ve got yours up to date automatically with this handy little program and you wont regret it. The latest downloadable version of Media Center Master is available from mediacentermaster.com. Need help getting started with Media Center Master? We’ve got a couple of short guides to using MCM here at Automatic Metadata Retrieval with Media Center Master and Master Metadata with Media Center Master.


2. My Channel Logos

channel_logos Part program and part plugin, My Channel Logos secures the second spot for it’s ability to sublimely enhance the look of Windows 7 Media Center’s TV Guide listings. Adding white or full color logos to Media Center’s TV lineup greatly improves the usability of the guide itself especially when considering the sometimes cryptic call signs  displayed by default. The anticipation for this program was fairly high during it’s short development and when finally available it met all expectations. What began as simple white logos injected into the TV guide listings to replace those drab call sign codes has blossomed into white and full color logos for not only the US but a slew of countries around the globe.

The newest versions automatically update the available images once a week to ensure that users have the most complete collection of logos available and as always the program has the ability to auto-populate logos. My Channel Logos will look at the assigned guide listings to choose the right logo for each channel thereby bypassing the funky station names and getting the right logo for each channel. This alone make My Channel Logos a good way to improve the scan ability of the TV guide. What where once garbled strings of text are now easy to browse channel logos making perusing the guide much smoother.

Once again, aesthetics plays a large part in the Media Center and that’s why My Channel Logos gets the second spot in the list. Simple fixes to small problems that just work, My Channel Logos tackles the subpar TV guide with a simple solution that improves both the look and usability of the guide at the same time. The program is such a success it’s hard to imagine the TV guide without it. Though the program is pretty simple even for the most novice user, should you need help getting started with My Channel Logos check out our guide to  Add Channel Logos to 7MC with the latest My Channel Logos.

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39 Comments


Stephen Fisher
Comment #11008 from Stephen Fisher [Reply]

Very good list, although I would have put TunerFree MCE in there and somewhere near the top.

Just out of interest, why did you choose MCM and not MetaBrowser? I’ve used both and use and prefer MCM, just wondering your reasons :)

Cheers and keep up the good work :)

Comment left May 14, 2010 at 1:47 pm Permanent Link
@Reply #11020 from Michael Healy [Reply]

I chose Media Center Master for it’s plugin like attitude. It basically runs itself in the background with a great deal of accuracy where as I feel like Metabrowser requires quite a bit of extra user input.

Comment left May 14, 2010 at 4:55 pm Permanent Link
Comment #11011 from Nicoledeuh [Reply]

IMHO, MediaControl (http://damienbt.free.fr/) should be in that list.
It is mandatory for a remote control powered use of 7MC !

Comment left May 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm Permanent Link
@Reply #11019 from Michael Healy [Reply]

Media Control is a very handy plugin for those who need it but for those who don’t they never even think about it. For those who’ve encoded all their media in a single format specifically for their own media center for instance would never really need media control. It is a very good program to have for those who need it though no doubt.

Comment left May 14, 2010 at 4:54 pm Permanent Link
Comment #11016 from Rix480 [Reply]

If you use a wireless keyboard w/touchpad or trackball, you can take advantage of Mozilla Prism and Media Center Studio to open up a whole new level of Media Center hacking…here is a short video of my setup and how to do it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQJhklk98GU

Comment left May 14, 2010 at 4:03 pm Permanent Link

Eddie
@Reply #11203 from Eddie [Reply]

Whoa! SWEET! What happens when you open PlayOn?

I’d love to see a post about how you got all of those apps working with Prism…

Comment left May 18, 2010 at 4:20 pm Permanent Link

Lithium630
Comment #11051 from Lithium630 [Reply]

Pretty good list. I still can’t get Remote Potato to work. I don’t think it’s for the lay mens. I would add PlayOn and Tubecore (or VMCPlayit). Very helpful for those who use extenders and want some online content.

Comment left May 15, 2010 at 9:12 am Permanent Link
Comment #11074 from Scott Kingery [Reply]

If you have an HTPC and not an extender, I recommend the Kylo web browser. You can even use Media Center Studio to make an entry point.
Kylo is a Mozilla based web browser that was designed with a 10-foot interface. I did a video overview here: http://www.techlifeweb.com/2010/03/23/video-first-look-kylo-browser-for-tv/

Comment left May 15, 2010 at 5:34 pm Permanent Link
Comment #11088 from Allinone [Reply]

I like RadioTime if MC its interface not bad but once setup its much easier to use than the other radio recommendation which I find overwhelming. It also has a DVR that you can import to your IPOD which is good along with traffic cam videos. It doesnt support AAC format yet its only drawback. You setup your preferences then change your setup to go right to it and with two clicks your listening to your favorite broadcasts.

Comment left May 15, 2010 at 10:25 pm Permanent Link

Josh
Comment #11118 from Josh [Reply]

Is it possible to use MediaBrowser and My Movies 3 in the same Media Center? I currently use My Movies 3, but wouldn’t want to lose all the work I’ve put into the movie database just to try Media Browser. I’d like to do a side-by-side comparison so that I can choose one.

Thanks for the list, I’ve already installed most of them after reading it.

Comment left May 16, 2010 at 4:43 pm Permanent Link
@Reply #11125 from Michael Healy [Reply]

Certainly, you can use as many different movie library or other plugins as you like at the same time

Comment left May 16, 2010 at 8:03 pm Permanent Link

Anonymous
Comment #11163 from Anonymous [Reply]

What? Two plugins per page? Need page views that desperately that you scare away readers?

Comment left May 17, 2010 at 3:22 pm Permanent Link
@Reply #11185 from Michael Healy [Reply]

There is actually no benefit to the additional page views as there is no per view advertising on the site. It was done to break up the content for easier reading instead of constructing a huge wall of information.

Comment left May 18, 2010 at 8:04 am Permanent Link

Anonymous
Comment #11169 from Anonymous [Reply]

Media Center Master gets the top spot because no matter what movie library plugin you’re running it needs metadata, likely tons of it.

What good is it without an actual plugin? Regardless, an external utility has no place on a top 10 Media Center plugin list. There are plenty of actual plugins, whether you like them or not, that are much more deserving of being on any plugin list.

Comment left May 17, 2010 at 7:56 pm Permanent Link
@Reply #11186 from Michael Healy [Reply]

No examples? Also, I disagree, Media Center Master may not have a movie library plugin of it’s own (and it certainly doesn’t need one) and may not have a front end inside Media Center but it’s ability to enhance the operation of other movie library plugins and run in the background manipulating Media Center data (like a plugin) make it more than worthy of the list.

Comment left May 18, 2010 at 8:07 am Permanent Link

Ralph
@Reply #21865 from Ralph [Reply]

I’m a complete newb to HTPC & MC. I use Media Centre Master & Media Browser… & that’s all. So easy, so simple.. my 5yr old & the wife drive it from the remote.

Comment left October 29, 2010 at 2:34 am Permanent Link
Comment #11221 from David Mark Bowen [Reply]

I’m with Michael on this one, MCM doesn’t need a plug in or to be accessed from MC, thats what makes it so great. you just point it in the direction of your video files and let it run and run delivering the best metadata for free from any product that I have seen.

Also Michael I love the site, its been so helpful in finding the most effective utilities for MC. Thanks!

Comment left May 19, 2010 at 4:46 am Permanent Link

Stephen Fisher
Comment #11296 from Stephen Fisher [Reply]

Yeah, sorry, I agree too, it is a chicken and egg situation, both the metadata collecting software and the browsing plug in need each other really to make each other useful, whats the point of one without the other? BUT MCM does have a use without MediaBrowser, it can collect the data for the videos tab in media centre, so I think that knocks it slightly above MediaBrowser.

Comment left May 21, 2010 at 7:51 am Permanent Link
Comment #11392 from Ben10 games [Reply]

I love the My Channel logos. great idea.

Comment left May 23, 2010 at 4:36 am Permanent Link

kinshin
Comment #11538 from kinshin [Reply]

gr8 compilation. thanks for the work :)

Comment left May 25, 2010 at 6:03 pm Permanent Link

PeTa
Comment #11680 from PeTa [Reply]

Hi,

not sure if this is a common error,
i got two setup that i tested this on w7 RTM build 7600 32bit and 64bit same error.

When i install the heatwave plugin or
=========================================
Invalid Application
unable to launch “program name” application
check box to click to disable application -
=========================================

This happens to all apps, e.g I’ve installed
Heatwave,
Macrotube,
Media Control,

When i try to do something they all appear with same error message,

Am i missing something out that i need to install in order to get the applications and plugins to work?

Comment left May 27, 2010 at 4:11 pm Permanent Link
@Reply #11731 from Michael Healy [Reply]

The only thing I can think of off the top of my head that might affect all plugins like that is perhaps the .Net Framework.

Comment left May 28, 2010 at 8:04 am Permanent Link

lachape1
Comment #11859 from lachape1 [Reply]

I like my Channel Logos, when will it be available in french with french channels logos?

Comment left May 30, 2010 at 6:04 am Permanent Link

Rob Ingenthron
Comment #13429 from Rob Ingenthron [Reply]

To be technically correct, Remote Potato was not the first tool to provide remote access and streaming to your WIndows MCE: Doug Barrett of ascii express should get his props for the great Web Guide 4.1 plug-in. It’s a great plug-in, and I have never had a problem with it. I use it at home and at work to connect into my MCE system. Unfortunately, he’s now working for Microsoft and he’s not able to update it to work with Windows 7. So, Remote Potato may be the first remote guide and streamer for Windows 7, but Web Guide has been available for XP MCE 2005, Vista MCE, and Windows Home Server.

Comment left July 3, 2010 at 3:02 am Permanent Link

Rob Ingenthron
Comment #13430 from Rob Ingenthron [Reply]

Summary: HandBrake over DVRMSToolbox.

I wanted to comment on DVRMSToolbox: while I was in love with it at first, over a period of a couple of months, the love was gone. If people are like me, you want to find ONE format to convert to in order to save space and get the best quality compromise, and for me that’s MKV. DVRMSToolbox is a powerful, but very unfriendly tool, and if you don’t have the days and days of research time it takes to figure it all out and weeks to do conversion testings, HandBrake is a tremendous free tool. Also, for MKV, using DVRMSToolbox on two different systems left me re-re-re-re-encoding with different settings to try to overcome the audio-to-video sync issues, while HandBrake just works. I hate the file selection method that HandBrake uses (because it’s old school), but it saves me hours and days over DVRMSToolbox. (I also tried cutting commercials with DVRMSToolbox, and it worked on some, and failed miserably on others, but it takes hours to see the results for one file.)

Comment left July 3, 2010 at 3:12 am Permanent Link

Steven
Comment #13644 from Steven [Reply]

Hey, look out for the mcshout plugin! I just downloaded the 64bit version, scanned it with Norton and found the Heuristic Virus inside!

Comment left July 9, 2010 at 12:26 pm Permanent Link
Comment #15114 from Eric [Reply]

I actually use WMC with an nmedia keyboard (which includes trackball, scoll & click buttons) and the keyboard uses one USB RF antenna which also works with a remote control. The remote control will control WMC to its fullest and when I need the keyboard for searches, it’s a very quick switch. The trackball is very difficult to be quick & accurate, so the remote works better as you can use UP, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT functions instead.

Comment left August 12, 2010 at 5:23 pm Permanent Link

Mags
Comment #17241 from Mags [Reply]

MCEBuddy has to be one of the best hassle free setups for TV Advert removal and recording compression tools.

Comment left September 13, 2010 at 11:47 pm Permanent Link

Peter
Comment #19607 from Peter [Reply]

Hey, great list there. Just wondering if you’re using a pre-built theme or if you found that nice background image somewhere. A link would be nice. Thanks.

Comment left October 7, 2010 at 1:26 am Permanent Link

Karl
Comment #25406 from Karl [Reply]

I would definitely have TunerfreeMCE to this list. Just installed it the other day – works like a dream – has built in VPN support too. Most importantly passes the wife test.

Comment left December 8, 2010 at 11:59 am Permanent Link

Robert
Comment #34542 from Robert [Reply]

Why does this list not include OrbLive? Do people generally not like Orb? I love it!
http://new.orb.com/en/orb-live/

Comment left March 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm Permanent Link
Comment #36416 from Brian [Reply]

Mr. Expert,

Are you going to have a follow up post or article about this anytime soon? :)

_______
“Providing you with great tips on Lawyer reviews” …
( http://www.QSLaw.com )

Comment left March 21, 2011 at 3:19 pm Permanent Link

stavros theologides
Comment #37454 from stavros theologides [Reply]

I have a new computer with windows 7 professional.
something went wrong with my media player set up and i can not receive rik sat alive from Cyprus. I am 74 years old and 48 years in South Africa and still love listening to my country’s tv station . Please help me with advise.
May God pay you back in ten-fold if you help me in this minor problem. Regards Stavros Theologides
P.S When you the world going to-wards destruction come to South Africa

Comment left March 31, 2011 at 3:00 am Permanent Link

Deano
Comment #39246 from Deano [Reply]

Hey. I think that you have given some good choices here, but rather than using different addons for new menu styles, you might want to teach people how to use Media Center Studio from Advent Media to customise their start menu. I have even made my own theme for 7mc that matches my Logon screen, my theme for Windows, My mobile phone (Nokia 6120c) and my Rainmeter skin (Enigma). It is really simple to make your experience better, you simply fail to look at what you have been given and go on hunts for the “10 best addons for 7mc” and stuff like that. Give my method a shot and see if you like it. It worked for me! :)

Comment left April 20, 2011 at 11:12 am Permanent Link

Daemon
Comment #44092 from Daemon [Reply]

Top 10 Windows 7 Media Center Plugins for Summer 2010

Now Summer 2011 has rolled around, don’t you think its time for Hack7WMC to run some updates thru the mill. Particularly Canadian based, since the USA has long since completed their switch to digital from analog; and Canada will have also done so by August 31, 2011, even though the majority of major broadcasters by now have mostly allready done so.

It might also be a good opportunity to update Over The Air HDTV reception articles while we’re at it?

Comment left June 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm Permanent Link
Comment #46774 from jp2code [Reply]

Is there any way to plug-in Crackle to Media Center 7?

Comment left August 19, 2011 at 10:31 pm Permanent Link

Mark
Comment #48034 from Mark [Reply]

I think the frustrating thing about Media Center Logo is that it has a “required” donation for download. It’s nicer to try a program and make sure it works before paying. And, unfortunately, in this case I wouldn’t buy it because it crashes every time I try to populate the logos!

Uninstalled and out the money.

Comment left September 27, 2011 at 4:39 am Permanent Link

Joe
Comment #55180 from Joe [Reply]

Well it looks like heatwave and advent media center studios are both now defunct. Anyone have any additional information on these projects?

Comment left December 22, 2011 at 11:39 am Permanent Link
Comment #135353 from http://www.w7callerid.com [Reply]

W7 Caller ID – phone application that allows you to log phone calls and show them on Computers in your home network (PC and Mac), Windows Media Center, MediaPortal and XBMC. Now with Bluetooth support of smartphones!

Version 3.0 released. Core Application Runs As a Windows Service!

– W7 Caller ID application has been split to Windows Service and Tray Application.
– Tray Application can be run on the remote PC.
– Configurable popup size – standard/small.
– Resume Media Center/Mediaportal play after call end (supported for Smartphones only).
– Ability to run VB Script on call end event.
– Support drop call and blocked number for Asterisk.

Comment left July 6, 2013 at 1:11 am Permanent Link

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