I posted this on the shut-down thread (it was the last post) and I really wanted people to know about J.River's MC:
I'm late to this thread, but I thought I'd share my experiences with JRiver & XBMC.
I use JRiver v15 to catalog and display the albums, DVDs, and ripped Bulrays located on my server. JRiver seamlessly calls TMT3 for (ripped, unencrypted) Bluray playback. On my remote HTPCs, TMT3 handles actual Bluray disk playback. Beyond TV runs an 8 channel tuner farm on the server for clear QAM & analog TV recording (from Cox Cbale), and TV playback is via BTV's Link client. So far, nothing has come along that's as bullet proof as BTV for a decent PVR solution. Yup, Sage was pretty, and close to BTV in performance, but I was never really tempted after lurking around on Sage's forums. One of my few good decisions it seems...
I started with XBMC about three years ago and loved it. I lived with its inability to reverse a playing DVD and a few other quirks, because I really enjoyed their 10' interface. When the audio became problematic after Dharma was released, I finally gave JRiver a shot.
I've never looked back. You can use the regular windowed views for your tagging work, and when you're happy with it, shift to Theater View and use it with an MCE remote receiver and Harmony remote (I'm still using Event Ghost to translate remote signals to key-stroke output for the three programs I use on my HTPCs).
The tagging options and organization of views is staggering, especially for a user with little database/tagging background that is interested in decent data views with only a few options.
This is easily overcome with a few weekends of serious effort and communication with their (excellent) forum.
Yes, their wikis are typically outdated and the website is pretty sparse. Use the forum; search, ask and you will quickly be taken care of.
Does JRiver have a usable 10' interface for serious HTPC users? Unqualified yes.
Does it have a windowed view (like WMP) to make working with the set-up details easy? Yes, XBMC didn't when I left it, I don't know if does now, but I doubt it.
Does it have all the pretties XBMC had? Nope, but it offers better audio and video performance (hands down, unqualified, it is better than XBMC when I left it).
Of particular interest to me, the typical user will seldom (if ever) need to do anything outside of the menu choices the running program offers. I quit XBMC when the audio broke and steps for copying files here, installing codecs there, and having to do these operations only on even numbered Tuesdays got too complicated...
With JRiver's exceptional audio (ASIO output is supported, for all audio, even for video sound tracks), excellent DVD playback, and now unencrypted Bluray (.ts) playback support, I'm very glad I switched from XBMC.
I've never felt better about spending $50 for a program.
As their PVR support matures, I may be able to drop BTV and have the single app for my HTPC that I've always wanted