About two months ago I made a major change in my living room. For several years I had used a home theater computer (HTPC) to access all of our ripped DVD’s, music and digital photos. I did not use Windows Media Center for its primary focus, which is watching and recording live TV, so when the PC aged and began to slow down I decided to replace it with a cheaper alternative.
Instead of building a new HTPC I opted for a Google TV box. I got the same functionality I had been using Windows Media Center for thanks to the Plex server and app. However, many of our discs had been ripped as ISO files — a format that Google TV, even using Flex, can not handle. I needed to convert the files and options included MKV, MP4 and AVI. All would work, but I opted for MKV.
Media consumption is likely a large part of your day-to-day activities. The method by which this media is consumed varies depending on personal preference. Local media libraries are often consumed and managed via a media player. Unfortunately, however, the default media player inside of Windows is often considered to be sub-par when compared to some of the feature-rich, well-polished, and free alternatives that are currently available.
If you are not satisfied with your current media player, I have compiled a list of my top six favorite media players that are available for Windows.
I have had enough of talking about video, TV and Media Center-type stuff for the moment. It is time to move to the other side of the spectrum — music. It seems like, for many of us, our music library is in a more or less constant state of disarray. If you are, like me, always looking for a solution to organize it, and prefer free, then there are several options available out there.
However, my favorite over the past few years has proven to be MP3Tag. Over the time I have used this, it has proven to be the simplest, but also the best, solution of the many I have tested and thrown away, some of them I even paid before and then hated!
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.
These things seem to go in cycles. I spent four posts looking at ways you could cut the cord and, while this is not a series, it is still my second post about getting your music library organized. Perhaps it is simply because mine is such a total mess. Regardless of my personal procrastination with music libraries I do sometimes try and fix it up and I have an array of apps I have found over the years to aid me in my quest to accomplish this hopeless task.
The last time around, I talked about MP3Tag (my favorite app by the way), but this time around I wanted to show you an app I found even before that — MP3 Renamer. In fact, this was one of the first ones to become a staple in my armory to combat that dreaded, bloated pile of music that I both love and hate.
This is part four in my series about how to cut off your cable or satellite TV subscription and move on without, hopefully, missing a beat. We have looked at Media Center and alternatives, media servers and software for watching TV and movies. Now it is time to move on to more hardware — in this case set top boxes and extenders.
Most people think of set top boxes as the DVR they get from their cable or satellite provider, but that does not even scratch the surface. Extenders are similar, and pretty much all of the devices list below fall into that category. An extender simply means a device that can pull media from other locations on your home network — mainly your computers and servers.
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.
With a webcam attached to your computer you have many options available to you. You can conduct video chats, set up a simple security system and much more. With Flutter installed, there is something completely different you can do.
When you’re watching a movie, or listening to music on your computer, you may need to quickly pause playback which results in a mad scramble to find your mouse or keyboard and then finding the right control in the media player you’re using. Flutter enables you to use your web cam for simple playback control.
Everybody enjoys listening to music. However, what really determines your listening experience is how you decide to listen to your music. Many music lovers are moving their music to the cloud. While this is far more convenient compared to the traditional method of having a locally stored library, the quality of music is not always preserved.
Audiophiles such as myself typically use desktop players. Many desktop music players such as iTunes don’t always perform very well and don’t look too great either. If you happen to be on the lookout for a responsive, aesthetically pleasing, and free music player, Foobar2000 may be what you are looking for.
Is it worth checking out? Let’s take a look!
Many people use their computers to watch videos – I have an older laptop permanently hooked up to my TV so I can watch videos stored on my network drive on a larger screen as well as watching content from YouTube and other streaming sites and services – and almost everyone that does so will have encountered the dreaded problem of codecs.
Playing back videos is not just a simple matter of having a media player installed. Just like image files, videos can be saved in a variety of formats having been encoded with a codec – and you need to ensure you have the right one installed in order to be able to watch a particular video file.