Easy way to customize Windows Media Center

Customize Windows Media Center

If you prefer proprietary Windows MCE instead of open source XBMC for your media center then following two program should be interesting for you. Media Center Studio allows to to change Windows MCE background image, menu strip, and fonts for the main interface, while Media Center Themer provides you a way to customize the font style and color throughout Windows MCE, including third-party add-ins. Both program are fully compatible with Win7.

[via eHomeUpgrade]

Kinect-based gesture interface for Win7

Evoluce Kinect-based 'Win & I' gesture interface for Windows 7

Evoluce announced its new Kinect-based gesture interface for Win7 “Win & I” which brings PC remote control to the new level. Sure it needs to be polish and user should be prepared for it but even now it looks very impressive (see the video below). The “Win & I” home edition is tagged at €20 only (without Kinect, of course). So, you may try it to control your media center and enjoy new feeling.

Also there is an another similar software called Air Presenter. It’s developed by So Touch. According to its video presentation the Air Presenter offers more native gesturing and hand-waving then “Win & I”. Its gestures look a bit similar to work with touchscrteen.

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MythTV 0.24 is out!

MythTV logo

Last week MythTV team released a new version of its software for HTPC – 0.24. There is a lot of new features and major changes like new MythUI OSD, Blu-ray disc/folder parsing and playback, Embedded text subtitle support in MKV and others, Experimental Broadcom Crystal HD hardware decoding support, large audio, OSD, captioning/subtitle and video playback refactoring etc.

The MythTV 0.24 supports HD video and audio as well as various TV tuners and DVB cards. It makes that software unique solution to build power HTPC. I like XBMC. But it’s needed integration with VDR to provide PVR functionality. While MythTV has that feature out of the box. Sure XBMC offers rich integration with online services and simple way to develop plugins. But still. Also don’t forget about possibility to control X10 or Z-Wave devices from the MythTV box.

You can install the MythTV 0.24 from tarballs or using special MythTV distribution or packages for your Linux distribution. Also we expect to see that version in the LnuxMCE soon.

The first XBMC update for AppleTV2 and iPhone/iPad

Apple TV XBMC

XBMC just released the first update for AppleTV2 and iPhone/iPad port of its excellent software. The Changelog includes following:

  • GUI speedup
  • Webserver enabled
  • RTMP support
  • AC3/DTS Audio Dialogs
  • Rotating for the iPhone and iPad
  • Black and Dim screensavers working
  • Bluetooth Support
  • SMB shares with Windows Live Essentials should work.
  • Sleep timer works
  • Add-on updates now working
  • Decrypted ISO playback works
  • Thumbnail creation fixed

To get that upgrade on your AppleTV2 just run following commands in the console:
apt-get update && apt-get install org.xbmc.xbmc-atv2
Also the question about output 1080p video was clarified. XBMC can decode 1080p video. But AppleTV2 has either hardware or software restrictions to 720p only.

Unplggd: A Week with XBMC on AppleTV 2G

Apple TV XBMC

Unplggd shared their impression about practically using XBMC on AppleTV 2G during one week. Generally it works and this gives a hope for next release which should be much better. The major problem found during the testing is sluggish navigation. Maybe this is IR remote issue or the lack of memory. Also the system crashed when wireless N connection is used instead of wired. In any case XBMC should be adopted for AT2 more accurately. Especially as because there is no any alternative for AT2 stock software. PLEX is still alpha. So, XBMC has good chances to be the best for ARM as well. Also it’d be interesting to have possibility to tun Boxee on AT2 as well.

To summarize Unplggd experience with XBMC on AppleTV 2G I can suggest such solution for experienced users who know how to troubleshooting and recovery system. The rest should wait next release which I hope should be more stable.

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