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Converting PC to HTPC w/ Media Browser

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone! I've grown tired of wireless streaming through the three floors of my 100 year old home, so I'm moving my PC down into the basement theater. Now when I say theater, I mean I have a screen, a projector I got for free, and a surround sound system. This is by no means going to be awe-inspiring, but I'm tired of the buffering of wireless streams, and I can't really think of fishing wires through 100 year old plaster walls. I have an HP dc5850 microtower with an EVGA 1GB 9500GT card in it. I also have two 500GB HDDs, and another 808.88GB HDD (long story). The PC already has Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit along with some other ripping, processing, and burning programs. I just downloaded Media Browser yesterday and am looking to move everything this weekend. I already have the quick start guide from the Media Browser site and will follow that to at least get going. My questions are mainly involving what comes after that.

1. I already have k-lite codecs installed on the machine, would I do better to remove them and install the "Shark" pack I have read about?

2. As far as playback goes, I assume that it's done through WMC, so I have no use for VLC any more?

3. Themes, man do some of them look sweet! Is there a list of the most popular/updated themes with screenshots for perusal? Any that are preferred to others from personal experience?

That is what I can think of off-hand. Again, my equipment is beyond modest more towards mediocre: 1024 x 768 projector, hand me down receiver and speakers. So, I'm not trying to set the world on its ear here, but we do have people over a lot for movie nights, and I'm just looking for a way to simplify the browsing, selecting, and experience for the end-user a.k.a. my wife and other friends and family. I was using the 360 in the basement to stream from my PC on the second floor office, but the constant pausing/buffering became maddening. I guess I really just want to make sure that my PC will do a serviceable job, until I can build a new HTPC and upgrade the projector.

Sorry for the novel! Thanks in advance for any feedback!
post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 
Anyone have any feedback on this? Thanks.
post #3 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedubbadoo View Post

Anyone have any feedback on this? Thanks.

. Do what you feel you like doing. A lot of us here, me included, use XBMC or MediaPortal for watching DVDRips and TV Series. If you're not going to have a TV Tuner you're wide open for possibilities.

Your PC is fine for a HTPC..I used a AMD 64 3000+ for years and that played 720p and 1080i just fine. The video card is more important than the CPU. Hardware acceleration does most of the work so you shouldn't have any trouble.

Try all your media types and if you can play everything don't mess with your codecs. Windows 7 plays most files right out of the box.

VLC would only be needed if you had something weird..it doesn't take much room so just leave it. Most of the time I'll convert the video to some other format in Handbrake.

The default MediaBrowser theme is pretty good so try it out before you theme it. I was playing with it last week on my Vista laptop and I used it for about 6 months when I played with Win7 beta. Keep it simple to start.

http://community.mediabrowser.tv/per...h-themes-exist
post #4 of 9
1. Regarding codec packs, be very careful when messing around with them. I'm not a fan of k-lite but if it works for you I'd stick with it. Corrupted codecs can really mess up your system and lead to a full OS reinstall. Not fun.

2. Depends... Mediabrowser can be configured to use an external player if you desire but there are MUCH better players than VLC out there. MPC-HC is a great choice. But for general use I'd stick with the media center player.

3. In the mediabrowser forums there is a sub forum for plugins where the theme developers post some previews. I'll post a link here in a minute.

Edit: Link to mediabrowser forums.. I personally like the Subdued theme. Very customizable and free.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the responses! I got Media Browser up and going with the default skin and it populated all of my movie information, but not my TV series. I don't know if I don't have the file structure correct or what. I went ahead and did a clean install on the machine and just have Media Browser and an avi joining program installed. I'm loving how easy it is to use, just trying to get the whole file structure dialed in. This should make it super easy for my wife and my little niece so she can watch her movies.
post #6 of 9
Glad to hear you're getting things moving along! For tv shows it can be a pain to get working properly, hopefully this will help:

Television folder structure-

-Tv (folder)
-show name (folder)
-season 01 (folder)
-"s01e01 - episode name.mkv"
-"s01e02 - episode name.mp4"
-season 02 (folder)
-"s02e01 - episode name.avi"
etc...

You could also just name episodes like "01x02.mkv" to save time if you have a lot of renaming to do like I did. Good luck!
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply Josh. I actually got it partially working last night. Say I have "Jersey Shore." The main folder "Jersey Shore" populates with the backdrop, but the subsequent "child" folders i.e., "Season 1," "Season 2," do not populate an image. Is this something in the naming convention of the actual season? I'm not about to go through and type the names of every episode, so I'm good with the last naming option of just SSxEE, but I don't know why the individual seasons don't populate. So far though, everyone in the house is loving it!
post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedubbadoo View Post

Thanks for the reply Josh. I actually got it partially working last night. Say I have "Jersey Shore." The main folder "Jersey Shore" populates with the backdrop, but the subsequent "child" folders i.e., "Season 1," "Season 2," do not populate an image. Is this something in the naming convention of the actual season? I'm not about to go through and type the names of every episode, so I'm good with the last naming option of just SSxEE, but I don't know why the individual seasons don't populate. So far though, everyone in the house is loving it!

When I played with MediaBrowser last week I ran into the same issue. Movies loaded but not TV Shows. I even tried using Media Center Master which found and downloaded metadata for all the TV Shows but they still didn't display in MB. My structure says it's supported which is:

TVSeries
Show Name
Season 1 (A few have Season 01)
Show Name S01E01(sometimes ep desc).avi
Show Name S01E02.avi

I'm pretty much entrenched in XBMC but I wanted to give Vista WMC another try because of the TV Tuner and 360 extender support. When I played with the W7 beta and MB everything worked fine right out of the box. Given the fact that I don't really record anything any more I installed XBMC and watch Live TV in that. If I get bored this week I may give it another shot. I never bothered asking for support in the MB forum and didn't see anyone else complaining of a problem so I figured it was something with my crappy laptop.
post #9 of 9
@dobyken
If you're using mcm to retrieve metadata, can you confirm that the metadata was created? Check in the folders of your tv shows, there should be a "mymovies.xml", "folder.jpg" and "backdrop.jpg" inside the "Show Name" folder along with your "season" folders. Inside the season folders there should be another "folder.jpg" and another sub-folder named "metadata" which will contain a bunch of .jpg and .xml files (one for each episode). Also, if you use a third party metadata retrieval program you should disable Internet providers in the mediabrowser configuration.

@deedubbadoo:
Are you using the built in fetcher for metadata? If so, I highly recommend using a third party tool such as Media Center Master. IMO the built in fetcher leaves much to be desired.
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