A pedant that hangs out in the dark corner-cases of the web.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My current media center

So I have been forced, against my will, to install Windows on my television PC in order to see the Netflix online content I pay for.

I've fought countless Windows bluescreens in the process of setting this up (more on those in a later post), been frustrated by Windows Update failing and leaving my system in an un-update-able state, and been puzzled by Windows' consistent inability to recognize my network devices on any home computer I've set up in the last decade (I always end up booting into Linux to get the network drivers to spoon-feed to Windows). I even found out that switching the Media Center theme to "high visibility" irrevocably breaks the "Internet TV beta".

I have, however, come up with a decent list of software if you must put Windows on your TV:

  • Windows Media Center (it probably came with your Windows edition)
  • the Netflix plugin for WMC (the logo should be in WMC already, and will link to the download site)
  • Boxee alpha, a neat open-source media center with scores of plug-ins full of content (it's cross-platform if you don't have to use Windows)
  • hulu Desktop, another media center, just for hulu content (hulu hates Boxee for some reason, and must not have signed a multi-million dollar deal to become a Microsoft parner to show up in Media Center by default)
  • Steam, the iTunes of computer games
  • Google Earth just looks very cool on a big TV