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MediaPortal HTPC Software Review

At the heart of an HTPC is a media center software application that provides an interface for viewing and controlling your media. One such application is MediaPortal, an open source software that transforms your PC into a Media Center/HTPC. This free application lets you watch videos and DVDs, listen to music or radio stations, schedule and record live TV plus much more.

Customization
MediaPortal is a highly customizable application that supports custom skins, customs keys and many plugins for added functionality. Being an open source application, developers have the option of adding their own features and tweaks.

Remote Control
After you have setup MediaPortal, you will probably want to start controlling it from a remote control. The good news is that there are a number of input plugins available for various remotes. You can view them at the Input Plugin page.

TV
MediaPortal is an ideal platform for watching or recording TV. Analog, DVB-C, DVB-T, DVB-S, ATSC, HDTV and AC3 TV formats are supported. A number of recording features are available including record once, record now, daily or weekly, weekdays or whenever a program appears. TV guide features include Grab DVB-EPG & MHW-EPG directly for DVB, XMLTV, colors for genres, search and channel grouping.

Video
Video playback is available for any movie which your PC has an available codec for. MediaPortal can store all of your movies in its video database. You can then view and sort your movies by genre, year, title and actor. There is also the option of using the internal MediaPortal DVD player or an external DVD player.

Pictures
Media Portal includes a picture mode for viewing digital photos and pictures saved on your PC. The slideshow mode includes controls such as play/pause, next/previous picture, zoom and rotate. Other picture features include delete, sort, background music and filmstrip view.

Music
Most of the music features you will find in other media player applications are included with Media Portal. The basic play/pause, stop, next and previous track commands are obviously included. A number of view and sort features are available which include album, artist, genre or filesize options. MediaPortal can also automatically download album art for all of your albums. “Nice to have” features such as visualizations, music ratings and party shuffle mode are included.

Radio
FM, DVB or internet radio station support is included. As is support for external radio tuner applications.

Weather
MediaPortal can show you the latest weather information for your area. View the temperature in degrees C/F, UV Index, Humidity(%) and Wind (mph/kph). Also view live internet images for satellite, temperature, UV Index, wind, humidity and precipitation.

Additional to all of the features listed above, MediaPortal has many more. Launching external programs, CD-DVD burning, RSS news, computer hardware monitoring to mention a few.

To begin with MediaPortal can perhaps be a bit difficult to setup. The effort is well worth it as you get a powerful media center with many features for free!

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