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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am looking for suggestions on software and applications to make the most of my HTPC with very little effort from myself.

Here is what I am looking for:
1.) Auto detection when a dvd or blu ray is inserted into the drive and begin copying to Hard drives. After initial setup don't want to have to keep tinkering with it on a per movie basis.
2.) A very friendly UI and controllable by remote (also looking for ideas on the best remote for a HTPC - would like it to have built in keyboard).
3.) A good movie management program that will provide discography for movies and the ability to search for movies by actor, genre, etc.
4.) The ability to just click on the title from the movie management list and it will begin playing.
5.) A good video card that will allow for video upscaling to 1080 on my standard dvd's. (Intel based)

I also want to know if their is a way to watch these movies in another part of the house without installing a bunch of wires and that isn't too expensive. It should be easy to operate as well. Just click on the title and the movie starts. It should have a nise UI as well.

All suggestions welcome :dontknow:
 

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when you put a DVD in, media center will ask you if you want to copy or play the disc. If you put in a blank DVD it will ask if you want to burn a show or movie to the disc. Media Browser and MyMovies are add-ins that integrate into Media Center. They do the management part for you and look up the metadata. Both have really nice art work, look on top of media center, which is really slick. MyMovies is probably more comprehensive for movies data, and it looks more like media center. Mediabrowser has a very custom look with many different skins. More like XBMC(which is also a good option). I would also add a program called media center master if you really want to customize things. Its basically a manager for the movies, and the data shows up on whatever program you use. My movies can also do the disc copying for you as well.
 

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Pretty much what he said but add AnyDVD HD software another 80 bucks. AnyDVD is what makes coping possible without DRM or Regions to deal with. http://www.slysoft.com/en/anydvdhd.html

Also if you find full rips use to much space use HandBrake to easily reduce files and not loose digital surround. I have crushed 7gig movies down to 1.5 gigs with AC 5.1 intact and they still look as good as most cable broadcasts on a 42". You can always pull the original out for better quality. If you have kids that works good for their stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Okay, these are great ideas.

Also is there anything out there that would allow me to place widgets within Windows 7 Media Center for my frequently used applications ( netflix, facebook, twitter, itunes, etc.).

However I still need some insight into a good video card, maybe with some 3D capabilities and and remote that will allow me to control the HTPC easily. Hopefully it will have a keyboard.
 

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You can launch all of those within WMC7 as with most apps icon based launching happens in "EXTRAS" get Media center studio to add them. A good remote is the dell gyration remotes if you can find them also see the Rii N7 mini keyboard I love mine. I have written Logitech about making a WMC air mouse remote with Harmony features and a slide out keyboard, they actually responded that was a great idea. Not holding my breath. Video card I have is a GT260 but I would gladly get a quiet HDMI audio GT430 and still be happy gaming. See this http://www.anandtech.com/show/3973/nvidias-geforce-gt-430
yup lots of faster cards but you won't need em for anything but gaming Blu-ray runs fine on my GT260. I should note I am Not a ATI/AMD video card fan for HTPC.
 

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You should check out the new Plex. It finally got me back into using a frontend instead of just the standard windows desktop with a wireless mouse because it's easy to set up and works. None of these front ends are perfect, especially when you start pulling in content from around the web like streaming video, but the new My Plex feature is promising.
 

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XBMC does everything you listed. It's free and very easy to use and set up. I like the interface much better than WMC. It just feels more home theater-y to me. There are apps for just about everything for things that aren't natively supported by XBMC, as well. I believe there is a Netflix app, too.

I have a GeForce GT430. got it for 20 bucks on newegg a few weeks back. It claims ability to handle 3D blu-rays, but I haven't pulled the trigger on that equipment just yet. I think I saw a GTS 260 for 30ish recently, too. Anyway, it works like a charm!

I use my nook for a remote, which is awesome. If you have an iphone or android device, it's really easy to set up and makes the experience absolutely perfect because you can browse through all your media from your device right there in your hand, click on it, and it will play on the big screen.
 

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I always recommend Windows 7 media center because of WAF(Wife Acceptance Factor), polished 3rd party add-ons, and hardware compatibility(If you want to add actual television or radio tuners in the future). I like XBMC too but right now, media center can do nice skins too when it comes to programs like media browser, plus it does native television and radio. Even CableCard. I started out just doing a movie server too, but later decided to get tuners. Definitely the best DVR out there.

As far as hardware, I just picked up an AMD Fusion cpu/mobo a couple of weeks ago. Pretty cheap and good performance, especially if you want built in graphics. Plus they give you the ability to not just add a graphic card for gaming, but that added card will be in crossfire with the onboard video. Pretty nice if you want to add decent gaming to that HTPC.
 

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2 of these for ATSC/QAM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815100041

1 of these for cable

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815706001

and 1 of these for FM radio(Have had this one since '05)

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3584102&CatId=4547

Setting up tuners is very easy. Once you install the hardware, Windows 7 will usually detect the device and install the drivers. If not, install the included drivers. Once you open media center it will tell you it sees new tuners and will ask you if you want to set them up. If not or if you don't want to, the setup is under TV in the settings. The setup is step by step with no unusual questions. If you use a cable card tuner, there's a program called cablecard advisor you have to run first that will approve your computer for proper use. After that, the setup is the same as any other tuner, except it will pause and prompt you to activate the cablecard. Your cable company can do this, or you can do this yourself over the phone or with a website. Your cable company will give you the activation instructions. For myself Verizon FiOS has a website where you put in the activation number and it activates the cablecard. You can then move on. The guide will setup itself from the setup and will inform you its downloading info. Much more simple than it sounds from me, and lots of videos on youtube. Really simple setup.
 
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