The Best Free Plug-Ins To Extend The Functionality Of Windows 7 Media Center
Windows 7 has finally bought the functionality and satiability to bring Windows Media Center from hobby status to the epicentre of the living room. Included in the Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows 7, Media Center has now found its way into thousands of home theatres and living rooms across the country, hooked up to big plasma and LCD TV's to create a great entertainment experience. But even with all of the additional functionality in the Windows 7 version in comparision to Vista, there is still basic functionality that is not included as standard. Thankfully, these plug-ins will rev up your Media Center to make it the digital hub of your house.
Media Browser-> http://www.mediabrowser.tv/
Undoubtedly the most useful addition to Windows Media Center, this free plug-in takes any media collection to a whole new level. Visually stunning, Media Browser will allow you to display all of your movies, tv shows and music in a professional looking and heavily customizable interface. Powered by a very active developer community, Media Browser is the best movie and TV show collection software available for Windows 7 Media Center.
Not only does Media Browser display your digital media collection, it also allows users to set things like parental controls and maintains a watched status indicator, perfect to show exactly what episode you are up to while watching those old West Wing series. It pulls movie and show metadata from the Internet, to show episode wallpapers, screenshots, episode and movie synopsis and actor profiles.
Beyond your main TV, Media Browser contains extender transcoding to stream content to another Television that is connected with an Xbox 360. A blooming developer community has created a range of different themes that leverage Media Browser's own plugin system, which allows almost unlimited customization.
This plugin was the final piece in bringing the Windows 7 Media Center in our house from my personal hobby to the center piece of our media puzzle. My wife loves this program and it was only after I showed her how beautiful and easy it was to use that she consented to the media center being moved into the main lounge room, where she uses this plugin every day. Neither of us could imagine our viewing experience without the combination of Media Center and Media Browser.
Macrotube - http://thegreenbutton.com/forums/t/86771.aspx
Youtube has rapidly become an enormous source of video entertainment but its biggest problem with its integration into the living room has been the inability to watch and interact with the Youtube website through the family television set. Trying to view the standard Youtube website on a television is a lesson in futility, no matter how large the television is, it is difficult to see the video footage, and with only a remote in the users hand, navigating is almost impossible. The Macrotube plugin helps to solve this problem by reformatting the normal Youtube website into a format more suited for a TV and also re-maps the controls to be remote control friendly. This is a sleek, professional looking package that is not only free, but supported by an active development community. The plugin is further enhanced by being capable of showing content from MSN Soapbox and Daily Motion and is a must have addition to every media center.
Remote Potato â http://ww2.fatattitude.com/site_fatattitude/software/software-about-remotepotato.aspx
Remote Potato brings Windows Media Center up to par with other DVR's on the market, giving the ability to schedule and record programs from any computer, ensuring you never miss a show when you are away from home. Under continuous development, with the ability to stream recorded TV from your media center to a pc or smart phone, this plugin is already a must have addition to Windows 7 Media Center, and will only get better.
Heatwave - http://thegreenbutton.com/forums/t/59564.aspx?PageIndex=1
Media Center's are not only useful for storing and playing media files but as central information displays. Out of the many weather utility plugins that have been created for Windows 7 Media Center, Heatwave is the best looking, giving all the information on local and national weather in one stylish package.
These free plugins, coupled with the perfect full function media center remote will extend the already excellent functionality available within Microsoft Media Center for Windows 7 to a whole new level, creating a customizable and beautiful interface that puts other DVR's on the market to shame.
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