Application Spotlight: MediaPortal

As some of you may already know, I have been slowly building a MediaCenter PC which is connected to my HI-FI, Network and Plasma TV. The main use of the machine to date has been a dockingcharging station for our iPod Shulle’s, Kat’s iPhone and my HTC Diamond. Boasting a massive ammount of MP3’s and Movies.

As it get’s little use I couldn’t bring myself to spend £80+ on Vista Home Premium so I could use the media center aspect. So it’s still running Windows XP Service Pack 3. 

All though all of the music and movies are indexed in iTunes (for obvious reasons) I have been constantly on the hunt for something to turn the machine from a PC to a proper media center. 

During my daily trawls on the net I managed to stumble accross MediaPortal. Which seems to be serving my needs perfectly.

What is MediaPortal?

mediaportalMediaPortal is an Open Source application ideal for turning your PC in a very advanced Multi-Media Center / HTPC. MediaPortal allows you to listen to your favorite music & radio, watch your video’s and DVD’s, view, schedule and record live TV and much more.

As Open Source software licensed under the GNU/GPL agreement, you get MediaPortal for free. This means anyone can contribute to MediaPortal or customize for their own needs!

MediaPortal is built on the Microsoft .NET framework using C# and currently has a growing international community of over 60,000 users. 

MediaPortal Features

General

Mediaportal-Homescreen

  • Create your own skins, or choose one of the available skins!
  • MediaPortal can easily be extended with extra plugins
  • You decide which keys you want to use for which actions
  • Internal support for several remote control (streamzap, MCE, redeye, winlirc, hauppauge, FireDTV)
  • Windowed and fullscreen support

My TV

MediaPortal TV

  • Supports analog TV, DVB-C, DVB-T, DVB-S and ATSC
  • HDTV and AC3 support
  • Support for multiple tuners
  • Record, watch, and timeshift Live TV
  • Advanced recording scheduler:
    – Record once
    – Record now
    – Daily o Weekly
    – Weekdays (Mon-Fri)
    – Every time a program appears on this TV channel
  • Timeshifting,Watch, Pause, Rewind, FF, RW Live TV
  • Advanced recording management:
    – Handle conflicts
    – Set recording priorities
    – Quality settings / recording
    – Transcode to WMD, XVID or MPG
    – Diskmanagement auto deletes old and/or watched recordings
  • TVGuide:
    – Grab DVB-EPG & MHW-EPG directly for DVB
    – Supports XMLTV
    – Colors for genres
  • TV Guide search
  • TV Channel grouping
  • Supports over > 10000 channels
  • Auto channel tuning
  • Normal OSD (On Screen Display during movies/tv)
  • Special ZAP OSD (Shows description of what is playing currently on TV)
  • Support for Teletext
  • Standby control to put your HTPC sleeping. It will awake when there a recording needs to start

My Video / MyDVD

MediaPortal Video/DVD

  • Play any movie your PC has a codec for (divx, mpeg, matroska,…)
  • All your movies will be stored in MediaPortal’s video database
  • View your movies by actors, genres, year, title
  • Sort your movies by actors, genres, year, rating
  • Automatically retrieves video art & info from IMDB
  • Stacking/unstacking if your movie consists of multiple files
  • Internal DVD player with menu’s (you can also use an external DVD player)
  • On Screen Display (OSD) for: Pause, Rewind, FastForward, Stop, Mute, Bookmarks, Switching Audio Streams/Subtitle languages…
  • Resume from playback on next play

My Pictures 

mediaportal-pictures

  • Watch your pictures/photos
  • Slideshow support with nice transitions
  • Zoom in/out, rotate pictures (rotation is remembered next time)
  • Pause, previous/next picture
  • Delete picture(s)
  • Background music, either songs from my music, or radio from my radio
  • Auto thumbnail generation
  • Sort in Name, Date, Size
  • View in List, Icon or Big Icon display
  • Ken Burns effect slideshow
  • Filmstrip view

My Music

mediaportal-music

  • View your music by artists, albums, genres, top100 or plain songs
  • Sort your music in many ways like tracks, genre, filesize, artists, album,…
  • Use visualisations from Windows ?Media Player 10
  • Load, create & save playlists (.m3u, .pls, .b4u)
  • Automaticlly gets album art & info for all your albums
  • Automaticlly gets artist art & info for all your artists
  • View by list, icons, and big icons
  • Shuffle, repeat, FF, RW, pause,…
  • Music ratings
  • Favorites
  • Party shuffle mode
  • Search music for specific songs
  • Display all your favorite songs in one screen
  • Utilize Winamp, Foobar or iTunes plugins for music playback

My Radio

mediaportal-radio

  • Listen to your favorite radio stations (FM, DVB or internet stream)
  • Auto tuning (FM)
  • Logo’s for each radio station (manual process)
  • Supply a friendly name for each radio station
  • Internet radio station streaming (ASX or Shoutcast)
  • Support for external radio tuner applications
  • Auto start listening to your selected radio station when MediaPortal starts

 

My weather

mediaportal-weather

  • Show the latest weather information
  • Support for multiple cities
  • Current temperature, 3 Day Forecast
  • Temperature (in degrees C/F)
  • UV Index, Humity (%), Wind (mph/kph), etc
  • Support for live images from internet, like:
    – Satellite images
    – Temperature images
    – UV Index images
    – Winds images
    – Humidity images
    – Precipitation images

More features!

mediaportal-games

  • Launching external programs like:
    – Games
    – Emulators
    – Email application
    – Internet Browser
    – IRC client
  • Burner let’s you burn all type of files and folders directly to CD-DVD from within the MediaPortal interface
  • Showing RSS news feeds
  • Read and send mail within MediaPortal
  • Monitor computer hardware:
    – CPU temperature
    – Motherboard Temperature
    – Hard disk Temperature
    – Used Memory
    – Used Virtual Memory
  • Allow the PC automatically go to standby/hibernation and wakes it when there is a scheduled recording! Just like a real VCR!
  • Has different alarm features
  • You can even play included games like Tetris or Sudoku!

 

This only a small list of plugins & features that MediaPortal offers.
You can also
view a complete list of plugins.

You can download MediaPortal for free over at the MediaPortal site, or use this link: http://downloads.sourceforge.net/mediaportal/MediaPortal_1.0_Setup.exe

Mike Hudson

Mike Hudson is a Infrastructure Analyst living and working in Kingston Upon Hull. With extensive experience in Microsoft and Apple technologies, ranging from desktop OS’s to Server OS’s and hardware. By day working as part of an infrastructure team, and by night ridding the world of IT issues through blog posts..

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