Due to the popularity of our (fairly outdated) top five plugins post here at Hack7MC let’s take a look at some of the new plugins that have come out since then and look at what is available now.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 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.
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
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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