Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What's on my HTPC? Software I'm using on my new HTPC

Since I'm in the process of building a new HTPC (this one will be a client PC getting its music, tv and movies from a server PC), I thought I would outline the software I'm installing on this new PC.

  • Windows XP - I'm not ready for Vista. Matter of fact, I'm not sure I understand any advantage of upgrading to Vista for an HTPC at this point unless Cablecard support becomes a necessary evil for you.
  • Microsoft Powertoys Tweak UI - I use this to tweak several XP things such as auto-login (don't have to select the user when PC starts up), remove the recycling bin from the deskop and a few other misc customizations.
  • Girder software, USBUIRT driver and USBUIRT plugin for girder. This is so I can use my MX500 remote to do anything I want it to. Totally customized to my liking and to make the remote as easy to use as possible for maximum WAF (wife acceptance factor).
  • Several Codecs to properly play any media I throw at it.
  • Beyond TV Link from Snapstream (I'm using Link on this PC - Link is a client software that connects to the BTV server PC to watch recorded or live shows. It allows you to watch one show in room 1, stop in the middle of the show and pick up where you left off on the BTV Link PC in room 2).
  • Beyond Media from Snapstream. This is a separate, HTPC front-end software. With this program and its various plugins, I can watch movies from a disk or the hard drive; listen to music streamed from MP3's on the hard drive, CD's netradio stations, Pandora, or XMRadio Online; Watch online videos from CBS Innertube; See what is showing at a theater near you and watch previews - if you don't want to go to the theater for a certain movie, click on add to netflix to add the movie to your netflix que; View and manage your netflix que, view the top 100 netflix movies, watch previews (some previews currently broken on the netflix plugin). All of this can be done with your remote from the comfort of your couch.
  • PhotoShop Elements - manage photos - I also use the PSE plugin for Beyond Media as a improved photo viewer on the HTPC.
  • JRiver Media Center - an advanced music and media software to listen to and view your media. I use this along with the JRMC plugin for Beyond Media for music management on my HTPC. The JRMC plugin is a wonderful software that makes listening to mp3's from the hard drive a great experience - again all from the convenience of the couch using the remote control.
  • Zoom Player. I use Zoom Player behind the scenes in conjunction with Beyond Media for DVD playback. Zoom Player is highly customizable and does an excellent job.
  • VideoReDo - an excellent mpeg editor I use to edit shows and other mpegs. The software recognizes the smartchapters generated by Beyond TV so it is easier to edit out commercials.
  • Joost - An online Video Player I run from girder