A couple of weeks ago, Ryan put together a list of reasons why he loves Windows Vista Media Center. Among his reasons were appearance, the option to add multiple tuners, and the fact that you can purchase an Xbox 360 and use it as a Media Center extender. He also listed a couple of extensions which are really helpful as well. Today we’re going to take a look at six amazing plug-ins for Windows Vista Media Center. Some of them have been mentioned before, others haven’t. If you’re looking for additional plug-ins to make the most out of your Media Center experience, we recommend taking a look at The Green Button Forums. It’s a place dedicated to Windows Media Center and you’ll find all kinds of great information there.
MyNetflix plug-in is great for those of you who subscribe to Netflix. This plug-in adds “Watch Now” support to Media Center which eliminates the need to use the Netflix application for watching movies on demand. We covered this in early February and here is a review of some of the features:
- View your Netflix queue from Media Center
- Browse movies by genre, top 100, new titles, etc.
- View your history and recommendations
- Add movies to your queue
- Remove movies form your queue
- Move movies to the top of your queue
- Browse “watch now” movies
WebGuide is one of the most popular plug-ins for Windows Media Center because it allows users to manage all of their recordings from any browser. This means that when you’re away from home, you can easily set a show to record. Even more impressive is that users are able to stream content from their Media Center PC to another computer. Back in September Microsoft hired the WebGuide Developer and then offered it for free! On the developers website it’s described as “the ultimate remote viewing & scheduling add-on for Media Center and Windows Home Server” and we agree!
The interface is simple and easy to use, and there’s even a mobile version for phones and PDA’s! If you’re a Media Center users, this is a must-have plug-in, especially now that it’s free.
The name of this plug-in really doesn’t give you an idea of what it does which is probably its biggest downside. DVRMSToolbox is actually a commercial skip add-on for Media Center and it’s completely free. The add-on will scan the shows that you have recorded for commercials and then tag where they are. When you go to watch the show, it will fast forward past those commercials. While they aren’t actually removed from the recording, it’s like they were. If by chance it skips past part of a show that wasn’t a commercial, you can easily hit the back button and then you’ll be able to view what had been skipped.
Another great feature will this plug-in is that there are all kinds of settings which you can tweak to your liking. Below is a screenshot of one of the configuration screens.
Get DVRMSToolbox here (it works for Vista and XP)!
MCEBrowser is brought to you by the same guy who created the MyNetflix plug-in. The purpose of this one is to allow easy surfing of the web, right from Media Center using your remote control. The screenshot gallery for this plug-in gives you a great idea of what all you can do. Some of the features include:
- View your list of favorite sites and then navigate to them
- Navigate through your favorites subfolders
- Enter a URL that you want to browse to
- Zoom in and out of a web page
- Form support for filling out edit boxes, list boxes, etc.
The download for MCEBrowser is available here.
MC Organizer is a plug-in that helps you organize and then play your videos. Features include:
- Ability to play movies that have multiple files
- Adds a Cover Flow like interface to your movie collection so you can easily horizontally scroll through movies
- Multiple video formats supported (for example, if there are three files for a movie, it will play them in order)
- Integrates for Ziotek Media Carousel Plus (for those that own it) to show the location of the DVD within the carousel
If you have a huge collection of DVDs, this will be worth using. Best of all, it’s free.
Download MC Organizer here. Note: You have to complete a registration before you’re able to use MC Organizer.
Video Browser Plug-in
The highlight of the Video Browser plug-in is that it allows for DVD playback right from your hard disk. That means that you’ll easily be able to view TV shows and movies that you download or those that you copy straight from a DVD to your hard drive. This add-on also supports metadata for TV shows and movies, but that does require a few extra steps like installing Ruby.
The developer realizes that there are areas which need improvement and he says they will be addressed in the future. For now it is a great plug-in with a nice interface that will allow you to easily watch movies from your hard disk.