HTPC software configuration using MediaPortal

For my HTPC, I now have configured most things up, so it is all working just like it should be. It took a few OS reinstalls to get it exactly where I wanted it, but I more or less have it, just have to sort out Blu-ray & HDDVD playback sorted first.

Here is a list of what I was aiming for:

  1. Be able to play backed up DVD, Blu-ray & HDDVD videos in either .avi, .mkv (H.264) or WMV
  2. Central bit of software to cover everything
  3. Able to play off network shares
  4. Be able to play back Blu-ray and HDDVD easily

For my software I am using the following:

  • Microsoft Windows Vista x64 Ultimate Edition
  • MediaPortal v1.0 (with TVSeries 2.0 plugin and Monochrome 2.2 skin)
  • iMon 7.2

I did try using Ubuntu over Vista but found that Blu-ray support was a bit limited in the way you basically had to manually dump each film on to the harddrive stripping out the DRM.

So I ended up using Vista which has been very reliable. I have turned off Aero to give a small performance increase in playing 1080p MKV files and have disabled UAC for the obvious reason; it's annoying.

Although the integrated Windows Media Centre that comes with Windows Vista is good, it can be a bit of a chore to get set up correctly to play any video format. So I am using MediaPortal which is a free bit of software which is simply fantastic.

I followed this guide from ProjectHTPC on setting up MediaPortal which is an easy to understand guide and tells you exactly what you need to know.

I then followed this guide on getting the Monochrome skin on Media Portal and getting the sound through to my sound system playing proper DTS. Following on from that guide, I came across a plugin for MediaPortal called TVSeries. It's fantasic. I followed this guide and have all my TV series on my computer set up with fan art, which has now given me an excuse to get all my box sets on to the harddrive to have them as easy to access as possible.

Media Portal plays off network shares which has ticked off number 3 and allows me to continue on my search to get a NAS set up with a lot of storage to store all my DVDs etc on.

The only problem I still have to overcome is getting Blu-ray and HDDVD to play through MediaPortal properly, which should be OK once I get around to getting PowerDVD 7 or hacking PowerDVD 8 which removed any trace of HDDVD.

iMon has been a pain though, my case came with a CD with it on which I have now misplaced while moving house and have found myself downloading the latest version off the SoundGraph website extremely slowly.