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Video conversion has become a popular topic with me lately. I purchased a Google TV a few months ago, using the device to retire my old HTPC, which ran Windows 7 with Media Center set to launch upon startup. The problem is this — not all of my ripped DVD’s were in a format recognized by Plex, which now serves my home media to the living room.

Since purchasing the Vizio Co-Star, I have been slowly but surely working my way through the re-encoding of almost all of our movies, most of which had been ripped to ISO files in order to retain all of the menus and extras. Unfortunately, Google TV will not allow me to keep those options, but this is not the end of the world — I do not really need them, it was just a nice touch.

My latest experiment is using TEncoder, which is a powerful tool for converting video and audio files from one format to another. The app holds a lot promise, but may not work for every need — more on that later.
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Let’s admit it. Going digital has brought in a ton of content overload. Photos, music, videos – every single format type easily consumes tens of gigabytes of hard disk space. Navigating through the hundreds of files to locate the ones you are looking for using a standard file explorer is a painful process.

When it comes music, there plenty of apps that do an amazing job organizing the digital music library. Winamp, iTunes and our very Windows Media player are some worth mentioning. I heard good things about MediaMonkey and thought it would be fun to try this media manager out. Read about my tryst with this media manager after the break.
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YouTube is a site/app which I visit every single day. And whether it is to browse through my subscriptions or just have a random gander, I always find enjoyment. When I bought my Windows Phone I looked forward to being able to watch videos on the go, however, this wasn’t the case.

After installing the Official YouTube application I soon realised that this wasn’t the experience I was looking for. Instead of taking you to a YouTube app, you went to the mobile version of the site — which is frankly poor.

I decided it was time to find something more suited for my needs. That’s when I came across MetroTube, a much better way to watch the videos I love. Read on to find out more!

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YouTube is a fantastic resource for discovering all sorts of videos. From funny cats clips and product reviews to live broadcasts and tutorials, practically anything you could ever want to watch is available free of charge at the click of a mouse.

While Android and iOS devices have dedicated apps available, PC users are generally limited to browsing for content in a web browser. If you’d like to avoid the extra distractions – and you’re using Windows 8 – you can turn to Your Tube 8 to focus your YouTube experience.

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Where do you turn when you want to watch a film? You might flick on the TV, pop on a DVD, or make use of a Netflix subscription, you might even head off to the cinema.

But what about those times when you’re looking for something a little different, but don’t want to spend a fortune? This is where SnagFilms could help, bringing a collection of independent films from around the world to your Windows 8 desktop.

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Computer users living in the US are somewhat spoilt for choice when it comes to watching TV online, but anyone living in the UK does not have such a good deal. A few video streaming services do exist, but these will almost always involve entering a contract and paying each month.

TVCatchup – despite the arguably confusing name as this service is now concerned solely with live TV – is a web site, and now Windows 8 app, that can be used to watch dozen of free-to-air TV stations, free from subscription and charges.

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Windows Media Center was an aspect of Windows that never really took off – there were always several other tools that did much the same job in a much more satisfying way. With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft saw fit to drop the tool altogether (although it’s still available as an addon).

This means that there is now more incentive than ever for developers to produce decent media management tools, and for users to seek them out. Multimedia 8 is one of the first media center-style tools that’s worth taking a look at.

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We return for our third segment in the cord-cutter series, this time focusing on how to watch TV without a cable or satellite service. Previously we have looked at Media Center and its alternatives and media servers. This time around we will focus on the actual TV and movie sources available.

All of you likely know the big names in this market, and I will briefly touch on each of those, but there are less well known sources that can be indispensable in this effort. Those we will cover as well. There are so many sources, in fact, that it would be impossible to get them all, but I will hit the ones I have found most useful and rely on you to add others in the comments.

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Cutting the cord. It has become a catch-phrase these days for many people. It refers to turning off your cable or satellite TV service in favor of getting your television on the computer or on other hardware. Of course, that works best for those of us who hook an HTPC (home theater PC) to our entertainment center with video going to the big screen TV and audio being pumped through an audio-video receiver and out to a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system.

There are a lot of directions for cord cutters to go and I am planning to cover a number of them over the coming days and weeks. For now though, we are starting out with one simple TV app — ChrisTV Online, which allows customers to access a number of channels from countries all around the world.

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Netflix is the video streaming service for a variety of countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. With a wide catalogue of both local and international content, alongside a fairly minimal price tag, Netflix is an attractive prospect for anyone who wants to stream legal video content.

Available right from the launch of Windows 8, Netflix’s official app makes the service available natively in the user interface formerly known as Metro and does an excellent job at it.

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