Nice looking Windows media center

Box One

German company HIGHDEF Technology Gmbh offers a very nice looking Vista MCE based home entertainment systems. It includes a TV reception with HDTV and a twin tuner, a hard drive and DVD recorder, DVD and CD player, archive for video, music and photos, and Internet and email, as well as video on demand. The Box One has probably the best case for media center I have ever seen. It’s an excellent mix of an austere style and functionality. The Box One fits to others A/V devices ideally.

To control the Box One media system the 7″ touch panel and the keypad can be used. The old school remote control is also an option. Based on my personal experience it’s the best way to control media center.

5 useful tips for Vista Media Center


Video: The Top 5 Things YOU didn't know you could do with your Vista Media Center PC

Here is a video which might help you to use your Vista Media Center more efficient. It covers following topics:

  1. Advanced Scheduling.
  2. Internet TV (powered by MSN Video).
  3. Sports (specifically scores/stats/programming).
  4. Using Windows Home Server with Media Center.
  5. Extending Your Media Center Experience (specifically using Windows Media Center Extenders).

We have a Vista Media Center on my wife’s laptop but we didn’t have a chance to play with it. Because we have a dedicated media center with LinuxMCE and VDR.

[via eHomeUpgrade]

Using Windows MCE as Softsqeeze

MCE and SlimServer

Sqeezebox together with SlimServer is the easiest way to create a multiroom music system. Now with plug-in mceSoftsqueeze it’s possible to use Windows MCE as a Softsqueeze – software emulator of real Sqeezebox. It logs into SlimServer (preferably installed on a separate networked PC) and can be managed directly from your Media Center’s 10-foot interface and remote in your entertainment area.

[via eHomeUpgrade]

Automate your home with YANZA

YANZA Home Automation system

Yanza is a small system which allows to control x10 devices. It’s installed under MCE and adds functionality needed to manage your home appliances. Free version of Yanza allows to control 2 x10 devices only. Which is appropriate solution just for playing with automation not for real using.

The next issue is x10 protocol. It’s very old and insecure. So, probably it’s better to use Z-Wave, Insteon, ZigBee or some other modern protocol.

And finally, you need Microsoft MCE to work with Yanza. IMHO some Linux solution is more stable and cost effective. For example, BlueLava is a set of Perl scripts. You can use it to control any number of x10 devices. Moreover, it offers a web interface. So, you’ll able to do that from any place. BlueLava is open source application. You can customize it as you want.

I wouldn’t like to say that Yanza is not good or whatever. I’m sure that it gets its users. But personally, I don’t see any reason even try it. Because the offered features are too pure and you can use it with MCE only.

Customize Vista MCE with MediaCenterFX

MediaCenterFX

If you’re Windows MCE user you might be interested in customization of its interface. The new project – MediaCenterFX (it’s in beta stage as usual) gives you the ability to customize background images, sounds, animations, hotkeys and whole bunch more.

If you’d like to test the MediaCenterFX don’t hesitate to be a beta tester.

Personally I prefer Linux-based media software such MythTV or VDR. They are free but power and flexible.

[via eHomeUpgrade]

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