A look at Windows Media Center on Windows 7 RC1

Discussion in 'Computer and Technology Discussion' started by InsaneNutter, May 5, 2009.

  1. InsaneNutter

    InsaneNutter Resident Nutter Staff Member

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    As the hard drive in our Media Centre PC failed I thought it was a good excuse to put an old hard drive in it and give Windows 7 a test drive until the replacement drive arrives.

    I was impressed right from the start, after Windows 7 had installed I checked device manage to see what I needed to install drivers for... to my surprise everything was installed, yes everything... including the Dual TV tuner!

    I was able to just load media centre, do the express setup then let it scan for TV channels. I had no problems with drivers or it failing to recognise tuners which I was expecting to from my experiences with Vista back in the Vista beta days.

    The main interface has got a bit of a redesign, nothing too major as you can see below.

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    The guide has been updated to download Boxart and display it when a movie is on, a nice little improvement in my opinion.

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    In the media centre main menu we now have a movies section, which contains a movie library, movie guide, a search button and an option to play a DVD.

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    This is where things get interesting, if you click the movie guide all the movies broadcasting on the channels you have available are displayed with box art and a description.

    You can sort though and view movies on next or search by genres / HD movies. You can tell media center to record the movie or start viewing it immediately.

    Any movies you record will be accessible from your movie library as well as recorded tv.

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    Sadly Blue-ray and HD-DVD playback is not possible from Windows Media Center, if you install PowerDVD you can get it to launch that when you have a BlueRay or HD-DVD disk in but sadly its not possible to play it directly in media centre at this time.

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    The TV guide has been updated to display a little HD logo to let you know the program is broadcasted in HD, if you have a HD tuner the program will be recorded in HD as you might have guessed!

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    The recorded tv section is just about the same as it is in Vista except you can now sort programs by the original air date and by where it is been shared from.

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    The movie library will expend as you use media centre and record movies, I’m not sure if you can import your own movies in to the library... I’m still exploring what’s new in Media centre.

    Interestingly enough the movie library recognises I have a Blueray disc in but won’t allow me to play or rip it to the media centre.

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    The music library is pretty much the same as it is in vista from what i remember, screenshot showing it with the sample music included with Windows 7.

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    The video library has improved a bit in regards to videos saved on network shares, Windows 7 media centre will instantly find and display video files shared from another pc, you can also choose which folder it displays so you don’t have to browse though them all to get to the media.

    For example I have Downloads > TV shared, I can till media centre to automatically map the TV folder so i don’t have to navigate through the downloads folder like I did on Vista.

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    A lot of improvements exist under the hood including support for DVB-S, DVB-S2 and Cable Cards, Media Center will also play BBC HD natively without needing to install hacks and codec’s like in Vista.

    I think something you should be aware of is Windows 7 media center records tv to WTV format and not DVR-MS, if your only going to watch the TV on the pc you record it this probably won’t bother you , however unless your others pc’s are running Windows 7 or Windows Vista with the TV pack they will not even recognise the WTV format.

    I play my recorded TV back on my modded Xbox a lot of the time which cannot decode WTV files, however if you right click on a WTV file in Windows 7 you will be displayed with an option to convert it to a DVR-MS file which works a lot better with 3rd party devices and applications.

    I’ve not covered everything that’s new here, but Ill upload the post as I discover more.

    One last thing I did notice was if you leave media centre for a couple of minutes it will now display a slideshow of photos that are on the computer, it wouldn’t let me screenshot this but here is a photo of it below. When you press play on the remote it will resume from where you paused your video.
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    Kingburns has a few more interesting things to share in his post below.
     
  2. xzKinGzxBuRnzx

    xzKinGzxBuRnzx The Feature Man

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    I think the Windows Media Center is one of the best things in Windows 7. I like how the new version of it works on my 360 and automaticly downloads update for it. I never thought it would work on the 360 as it would need the vista version.

    Though I was surprized at how amazing it is. Lets say I'm away from my 360 in the other room forgot to turn off my controller and the batterys are dieing. ^o) I can easily use my Laptop to play any song/video from a flash drive. Just by finding it and right-clicking and selecting "Play to". This allows me to play whatever from the other room remotely. All I got to do is crank up the speakers and run the neighbors off! :D


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    More screenshots

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  3. Stealth Geek

    Stealth Geek Resident

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    Looks pretty cool. I have a Media Center PC with Vista installed right now. I'm wondering if I install Windows 7, will it still allow me to use my remote to control MC? I also have XP MCE 2005 installed, and it doesn't install, nor can I find any drivers for the IR receiver to use my remote. Just wondering if Windows 7 will include drivers for it...

    Also, is there any noticeable difference in video quality with how the Media Centers between Vista and 7 record from a video source?
     
  4. InsaneNutter

    InsaneNutter Resident Nutter Staff Member

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    Is it the official media centre remote? If so its supported out the box in Vista / Windows 7 and drivers are available on Windows Update for XP.

    The video quality looks exactly the same to me, i did notice that the WTV file type Windows 7 records TV in are significantly bigger than DVR-MS files my Vista machine records in but I see no difference in quality.

    If you do install Windows 7 save yourself some time and download the Windows 7 codec pack - Shark007.net - Windows 7 Codecs Media Centre will play MKV files and such once again, even in the 64bit version.
     
    Stealth Geek likes this.
  5. Stealth Geek

    Stealth Geek Resident

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    Yeah, the remote/receiver came with the HP Media Center PC I have. And I've never been offered any Windows Update for the XP drivers...ever. :O I'll check again though when I get a chance.


    Thanks for the link to the needed codec pack. (Y)
     
  6. Dark Scyth

    Dark Scyth Moderator

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    SWEET! Thanks for that! I just wiped my HDD on my PC because of some friken Codec-pack that I downloaded and I think it was a nasty virus.
     

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