For the last three years I have run the Media Center Show Awards. The aim of the awards is to highlight the great work performed by the Media Center community. The awards are spilt into categories that represent enthusiast developers, professional developers and community websites.
This year the Media Center developer community has grasped the challenging but rewarding Media Center Markup Language and they have produced an amazing range of applications.
So let’s start off by looking at the best free Utility applications. There were two standout applications this year, MSDVR Toolbox and Recorded TV Broker both from Andrew Van Till. MSDVRToolbox is an application for managing and transforming recorded TV Files. With the utility you can instruct it to automatically transcode and moves files around your network, so it could automatically remove any commercials shrink the file and copy it to a network location. RecordingBroker is an application that detects recording conflicts and submits recording requests to other brokers configured in the application. If you have more than one Media Center system you can get the systems to talk to each other to schedule the recordings.
Moving on to 10 foot Media Center applications this year we were spoiled for choice, the developers really embraced Vista Media Center and produced some great looking applications, so for best free application we have:
- · TV Library
- · webguide
- · BB screen Headlines
- · Big Screen photos 2
- · TV Toolbox
- · EMUcenter
- · Yougle Vista
- · MyMovies
TV Library by Andrew Cherry expands on Media Center’s library functions by providing customizable views of recorded TV. In TV Library you can navigate around your content by genre, series or any way that works for you. For example Doctor who could be split in to Classic and “New Who” then that could be further split by series.
A personal favourite Media Center application is Webguide, this is an interesting addin that enables you to view your Media Center guide data over your local network or the Internet. So if you forget to setup that vital recording you can do it from any web device, including mobile phones. Just fire up a web browser and browse the guide and setup the recording. It has streaming functions in it too. Webguide has long been my essential addon for Windows Media Center and was pleased when Microsoft announced that its developer Doug Berrett had joined Microsoft and that they would be offering Webguide for free. What the future holds for Webguide we will have to wait and see.
Big screen Headlines comes from Australian developed Niall Ginsburg, its a RSS reader for Vista
Media Center that enables you to read web feeds, listen to podcast and watch videos all from the 10 foot interface. It’s a great looking application and a great way of getting the web on to the TV. Also from Niall is Big Screen photos 2 a flickr photo viewer for Vista Media Center.
TV toolbox is an editor for Recorded TV files. What is particularly nice about this application is its use of the visual effect in Windows Media Center to make editing a TV show easy and intuitive. This comes from German developer Olcay Buyan.
EMUCenter from another Aussi developer Steven Harding is a 10 foot application for launching classic arcade games using MAME emulators. You can play the classic arcade games of the past all from the sofa. Steven Harding also has Yougle Vista nominated, this is an addin for watching Youtube and Google videos from Media Center.
MyMovies is a movie collection management and playback tool. With My Movies you are able to index your movies with automatically downloaded data from the internet, and then browse movies, actors, directors and much more. You can share your movie database to multiple clients, and configure each client to its own parental control limitation.
The commercial applications were represented by mControl from Embedded Automation, Media Center Communicator from One Voice and mceTunes. mControl is an home automation package for Vista Media Center, XP Media Center and Windows Home Server. Media Center Communicator is a voice control system for Media Center and mceTunes is a way of enabling access to protected iTunes content from Media Center, something that is not possible out of the box.
Media Center owes much of its success to the great community that has built up around it, and to recognise this there is a award for the best community site and Best Media Center Blog details of the nominations can be found on the Vote page
Whilst settings up the vote page I took the opportunity to ask voters what components they added to their Media Center system such as Xbox 360, Windows Home Server, Zune and iPods. The reason I asked this question is that I am interested to see what integration issues people are coming across.
All the nominations were suggested by listeners and readers so head over to the vote page and have your say, the vote will be open all of December and the winners will be announced on a future Media Center Show
There is also a prize draw with a winner drawn at random, for details of the prize see the website next week
Vote page http://awards.thedigitallifestyle.com/