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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A user who posted on our forum at mediajukebox.com suggested that what we're trying to do with our software is similar to what is going on here, so I'm posting here to ask for ideas.


I'll give a nutshell view of what we do. More info is on our web site. www.mediajukebox. com. Reviews are at CNET and other sites.


MJ is a music jukebox for Windows, but it also plays video, DVD, and over the air TV. It plays most formats that can be played by Windows Media Player and Real, since it uses their playback engines, and it supports Winamp plugins so it can play most formats that Winamp plays. It rips, encodes, and burns. It supports many handheld MP3 players and CE devices.


MJ support IRMan and X10. Girder support was kindly added and documented by a user.


It has a Big Picture mode that is intended for use from across the room. This is undocumented because it is not yet perfect. CTRL-W is the switch.


We'd like to make it work perfectly in the environment I believe you are talking about here: PC / Home Theater integration.


I have two questions.


1. What are we missing to satisfy your needs?

2. What software do you currently use?


I assume that there will be many people who use Linux or Mac, and I apologize in advance that we aren't working in these areas. Yet.
 

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I personally feel there are 3 things sorely missing from any "HTPC software" out there:


"Across the room mode" as you mentioned. Major functions should be viewable at 15' on a 36" set.


Some decent MP3/media cataloging built in. The perfect software would allow someone who's never used the system before to hit a function key to do a search on artist, genre, album, etc... Scrolling through directories in winamp, windows explorer, etc... just doesn't cut it. I'm looking for software simple enough that a first time user (i.e. a visitor at a party) could figure out how to find their favorite song, but with enough advanced features to make an audiophile happy (I don't ask for much do I? ;) The above features should also work for Movie files and other media. Many users these days have 50+ gigs of media files (movies, mp3s, whatever...), there needs to be a good way to easy find and launch the media you're looking for.


STRONG integration with some form of IR device. This should be a priority, not an afterthought. The way the software works should blend well with the use of a remote to control it. In fact, profiles for popular remotes like the Pronto should be included.


And ideally for us hardware geeks - support for the Massworks ID-75 USB touchscreen. This is a device I think could be a phenomenal addition to any HTPC! Touchscreen remote control for the PC.


I've been looking for software to do all the above for EONs, maybe you guys will be the first? Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ron,

We play DVD if the player's software has been installed, but it isn't our strong suit. We intend to improve it.


lgibb

> Many users these days have 50+ gigs of media files


We have one user who has 394GB on line. More than 60,000 MP3 files (so far).


Organization of files is our strength.
 

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Should be fully controllable through a IR remote.

Full screen interface.

Ability to embed IE web browing in the interface.

Customizable menu/screen editing system similar to Pronto


The program should effectively hide the Windows Explorer shell and run closed system. This is so that other family members don't get lost. It doesn't have to run as shell, just system modal.


Give me a chance to check out your software (installing now) and I'll add more.
 

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Okay, got it installed.


1. Method for selecting default TV source. I don't use the TV tuner but instead use SVideo In on my ATI card.

2. All windows should be dockable to the main interface.

3. The full screen interface needs to be skinable! This is the most important mode there is.

4. DVD. If you're going to open a new window, please use the default DVD player unless you can provide a WinDVD/PowerDVD level of player.

5. Better media detection. Your program didn't seem to notice that a DVD had been inserted.

6. Auto adjustment of pane sizes. If a node on a tree causes that node's text to be off the screen, then the pane should resize. If focus then moves to the list view pane (or any other) then that may trigger another size event so that the item in that pane with the focus is fully visible. Basically, with only 6 buttons, the user should be able to navigate the interface.

7. Integrated mixer control. I should be able to associate that video in uses the audio card's Line In and if I have moved from TV to playing MP3s, then Line In should be muted (with an option to overide).


For clues on intefaces, take a look at PVRs such as TiVo, as well as cable boxes and satellite receivers.


It looks like you have most of the pieces. It just needs to have a polished interface.
 

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Yes, I did. I hope you devote some time to that area of your interface.


The main screen is okay for playlist management, but once the library is in order, most time is spent listening/watching and so I feel that a simple full screen interface would get the most use.


I think that would hold true for PCs with regular monitors, too. My daughter regularly plays music on the PC in her room while doing other things like laying on her bed talking on the phone or doing home work.


Keep up the good work.
 

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Here's my thoughts on the Media Jukebox:


The interface definitely looks too much like Windows Explorer. You need to develop full screen skins that more resemble consumer electronic devices. Although not perfect, Showshifter ( www.showshifter.com ) is going in the right direction.


For DVD playback, you have some groundwork to cover. Take a look at the features of PowerDVD and the new Theatertek player for features that need to be included in order to satisfy the crowd in this forum.


For TV viewing you need to add timeshifting, digital VCR (a la Tivo) and integrated electronic program guide functionality. Take a look at the ATI Multimedia Centre TV application for ideas here. ATI comes the closest so far to doing this properly. You also need to extend your media management to include a view where a listing of previously recorded shows can be managed (viewed, deleted, renamed, etc). Other functionality that would be needed include ability to wake the computer to record shows and go back to sleep after recording. Also TV recording should be a background task so that foreground activity such as mp3 playback can be done at the same time. Also I shouldn't forget the good work done by the Dscaler group, you need to incorporate their de-interlacing and other ideas as well.


For mp3 playback you need to add a dynamics compressor like OTS jukebox ( www.otsjuke.com ) or the more rudimentary volume levelling used by MusicMatch ( www.musicmatch.com/beta ) to ensure consistent volume during playback of MP3 files


In addition to the above, a nicetie would be plugin support so that the devloper community can extend the application.


If you can cram all of the features that I mentioned above into your product I'd be willing to pay as much as $200 or even more for a stable product. This would definitely be a killer HTPC app in my mind. Until then, Media Jukebox is not very useful to me since the separate apps I use (ATI MMC, Musicmatch, PowerDVD) cover my needs. If everything could be built into one product then I'd switch in a heartbeat.



Cheers

Lester
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Lester,


> You need to develop full screen skins that more resemble consumer electronic devices.


MJ has support for Winamp skins in mini mode. We did full screen skins in version 6 using Windowblinds, but we pulled them in 7 because they created instability problems with some video cards. Version 8 will have improved skinning.


> For DVD playback, you have some groundwork to cover.


I agree.


> For TV viewing you need to add timeshifting, digital VCR (a la Tivo) and integrated electronic program guide functionality.


We're working on this.


> For mp3 playback you need to add a dynamics compressor like OTS jukebox ( www.otsjuke.com ) or the more rudimentary volume levelling used by MusicMatch ( www.musicmatch.com/beta ) to ensure consistent volume during playback of MP3 files.


You'll see something that should satisfy in version 8, about to be alpha on our Interact board.


> In addition to the above, a nicetie would be plugin support so that the devloper community can extend the application.


MJ supports Winamp plugins. Skinning in the fullscreen mode will be open.


> If you can cram all of the features that I mentioned above into your product I'd be willing to pay as much as $200 or even more for a stable product.


Nice to hear.


Thanks very much for the details.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Teran,


Concerning your comment:


>>1. Method for selecting default TV source. I don't use the TV tuner but instead use SVideo In on my ATI card.


One of our developers said this:


"It is already there - in the "Settings" menu. Maybe it should be in the toolbar?"
 
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