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I have been writing a piece of software that is similar to Microsoft's XP Media Center Edition.


I have been a software developer for a long time and have a nasty habit of "writing my own" when I see a product that has great potential but obstacles. I like the idea of Media Center, and I would like to have it at home, but I don't want to buy a whole PC and get locked into its limited features.


My yet un-named software is making great progress and a beta release will be out soon. I'm looking for ideas or suggestions from you.


The premise is that it will be a windows application, capable of running on Windows 2000 or XP, that it will allow themes and multiple users, that it will support remote control directly through IRMan and that it will have a very consistent and simple interface.


The software will consist of


1) a login screen where you select the user ( or skip if there is only one user ). Similar to XP's welcome screen.


2) a main menu that will allow you to select the module ( such as My Pictures, My Music, etc )


3) sub-menu's that will execute the function, such as browsing the pictures or searching for and playing the music.


4) a configuration application that will allow you to configure all aspects of the main application.



Some modules I have planned so far


1) Pictures. Allows you to specify named categories of pictures each with a folder. Categories can be PIN protected. When you select a category, you see a browser that shows you thumbnails, lets you sort, navigate sub-folders, view the pictures full-screen and view slideshows.


2) Music. Allows you to navigate and play your audio files using artist, album, genre and playlists. This will use WMP 9 as the player.


3) DVD player. Using WMP 9 will et you play DVD's from either a DVD drive or from disc, by specifying a VIDEO_TS directory.


4) CD player.


5) Video library. Similar to pictures but plays video files on disk.


6) Video camera. Allows you to control a firewire camera.


7) E-mail. allows you to check and read your e-mail on-screen. will support PIN protected categories.


8) Web sites. Will allow you to specify URLs that you can view on-screen. Each one will have a category name and will be launched from a menu. For example, you could have one called 'Weather' that launches http://www.weather.com/weather/local/


9) Programs. Will allow you launch other programs.


10) Calendar and contacts. Will give you access to a calendar and contacts stored in an external application ( such as outlook ). So, next time you need Joe's phone number, it will be a couple of remote-control clicks away and you won't have to get up off the couch.


11) TV. PVR functionality supporting major video capture cards.


12) X-10?



Any ideas would be great....


Thanks,

Pablo Pissanetzky
 

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You intend to have a video library? I'd suggest some sort of "dvd profiler" functionality that associates DVD information automatically with IFO/VOB rips that reside on your hard drive. Allow for launching vob/IFO files from the library. For an interface to your library, think TIVO/ReplayTV. Don't forget that HTPC users sit 8-12' away from the screen.


Your audio and video library should basically be he same code. Rather than ripping cd's to mp3's and tagging them with id3 data that you download from cddb, you scan vob's and build similar information into your database from imdb.


Good integration with holo3d.


support xcapture card for pvr functionality. Don't forget need to control cable box (nany of us have digital cable, tuner control is useless for us). Again, think TIVO/Replay TV.
 

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Also, for those of us with slower computers and want to use an mpeg-2 hardware decoder, support for one of the hardware mpeg-2 decoder cards. Like either the Creative labs digital VCR or the win-tv 250 PVR. That is what makes the media center so nice is that uses an mpeg-2 hardware decoder card.


Allow also for use with any type of dvd software player so that you can find the best PQ.


IR blaster or serial connection to STB.


Support for 2 capture cards so you can record from one and watch from the other. Built in EPG would be great also.


Built in interface for CDR or DVD burn from either mpeg-2 or svcd. With some kind of built in converter tool.


Just some thoughts.


Perry
 

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As already mentioned... Support for PVR 250 and control of external STB.


Integrated EPG... picoguide is a good starting point.
 

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Sounds great! The video library is a must-have for Divx and home movies, although I'm not sure the video library needs to be a separate menu from the DVD library. Both should be able to represent video/DVD selections as thumbnails.


The one thing that I think MCE is missing to make it the perfect all-in-one media center is the ability to control external equipment through an on-screen interface. For example, this is what I envision:


You hit a "menu" button on your remote and the software pops up a 'control' window with a Crestron-like interface (or Main Lobby, or 4am Media Center, or DTP, or etc). But instead of needing a separate client you would use your same IR remote to navigate to and select buttons on the on-screen interface. This would in turn send IR or serial commands to your external equipment (and perhaps Girder commands to the HTPC). So, perhaps you could use the left, right, up, down buttons on your remote to navigate to a 'VCR' icon which would select that input (I have all my equipment modulated to different TV channels so this would for example tune my TV card to channel 106), and then change the on-screen GUI to a VCR-specific control screen. Here you could use your remote to select play, pause, etc.


This way even my mother-in-law could operate all of our equipment with one simple cheap remote by using a robust on-screen GUI.


Maybe these requirements are too specific to my particular setup but hopefully other people would find something like this useful too.


Thanks!

Alan
 

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Opensource it. Then people can add onto and improve upon what you have done. Unless you plan to sell the product...
 

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Quote:
Allow also for use with any type of dvd software player so that you can find the best PQ.
Yes, and in particular good integration to zoom player and maybe TheaterTek. Zoom is no doubt the most flexible dvd player and has the best support for aspect ratio and filter choice - I think for many this would be a deal-killer.
 

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Sounds promising. Important items for me: Advanced, automatic AR control for DVD playback using filters of our choice; Ape/apl audio support with gapless playback; cue sheet support; browes albums by cover art; visulizations such as geiss that don't devour all of your CPU. DScaler support for TV via directshow pluggin; built in caller ID could be cool; browes video by a image captures; no static images/icons/text that are going to cause burn in; X-10 support sounds like a good idea. I think the biggest thing for me is easy browseing with a remote.
 

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Is it me or does anyone else notice that after Pablo's initial post plugging his proposed software, he has disappeared?


Media Center interface looks exactly what I am after, and this looks like the prommising alternative without the inflated expense of a full PC.


But.. Where is Pablo?
 

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Tablet PC integration is a must like a fujitsu 510 or 1600 running win95,98 or xp would be great so we can use it as a remote interface for main PC.
 
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