Best Media Entertainment Alternatives for Windows Media Center

Diana Joan

May 18, 2015 09:03 am / Posted by Diana Joan

Windows Media Center is a digital video recorder and media player developed by Microsoft. It can play and record live television, organize and play digital images, music and video. It is included in Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate editions, all Windows 7 editions except for Starter and Home Basic. It is also available for retail versions of Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8.1 Pro as add-on.

Windows Media Center

During the 2015 Build developers’ conference, a Microsoft executive confirmed that Media Center would not be updated for or included with Windows 10, thus the product would be discontinued. Therefore, for those people who are going to upgrade your computer operating system to Windows 10, it is time to find suitable media entertainment alternatives for Windows Media Center.

Following are top 3 Windows Media Center Alternatives recommended to you:

Plex

plex

As a cross-platform player, Plex is available for Windows, Mac, FreeBSD and Liu systems as well as mobile devices, smart TVs and NAS devices.

To setup plex, you will first have to install a Plex server to help you handle media distribution and streaming, then install the player which can be used to play media provided by the server.

This can be realized in many conditions but perhaps Plex is not the best choice if you want to run a media center on a single device that stores the media as well.

Another difference to most media center alternatives is the integration with Plex online. You will be asked to connect your setup to the online service on first run of the player component which you can skip. It adds sharing, remote queuing and other functionality to Plex.

First thing you have to do is add media folders to the server component. Just add a folder and then select the media type, and Plex will do the rest. It can automatically adds thumbnails and media information if they are not available to helps improves the experience when using the player component significantly.

Plex Premium has more powerful functions to add features such as cloud synchronization, camera uploads, trailer and interview contents, and mobile synchronization of media to the system.

Read more Plex media solutions:

Best Settings for Handbrake video converting to play in Plex

Get 3D Blu-ray (MVC) onto Plex for Perfect Streaming in Panasonic VT65

Play iTunes Purchased/Rented Movie/TV Show on Sony Bravia TV via Plex

MediaPortal

mediaportal

MediaPortal is a free open source media center. It ships with everything you’d expect it to do. It can play media including digital files and from disc, stream and record internet radio or to be used to watch and record TV.

However, the setup of MediaPortal is not as streamlined as it is in KODI since you handle most settings in a separate configurations that is not integrated well in the main media center application.

With supports for plugins, MediaPortal’s functionality has been extended further. The plugins can be managed via the Extensions Manager, a program that you have to run separately from the main media center applications unless you install the Extensions plugin which adds them to it.

KODI (formerly called XBMC)

kodi

With this long-standing cross-platform media center, you can play media contents from local, network storage or Internet locations.

The KODI was designed originally for Microsoft’s first XBOX to add playback capabilities to it but has upgraded since then and is now available on various operating systems and devices.

You can record TV from the program within interface provided if you have a TV capture card connected to the PC for that.

KODI supports add-ons to help extend the player’s functionality. With add-ons, you can watch Internet services in KODI or add informational tools such as weather information, subtitle add-ons to retrieve them for media you want to play games for entertainment.

KODI supports to play most media you want and you can enjoy better experience with a bunch of extra features integrated into every component of the software. For example, the music player supports tags, cue sheets and integrates with MusicBranz while the mobile player imports posters, fan art, trailers and extras among other things.

Add media to your library in KODI is also pretty easy. Point the program to the folder which contains the media, select its type, for example, TV or music and the program will handle the reast. This is well integrated in the genearal application flow.

More tips about KODI

How to Play Video and Movie on Kodi?

Rip Blu-ray movies to MKV/MP4 for playing with Kodi (XBMC)

Conclusion:

The above 3 Windows Media Center alternatives all works well and support main media formats out of the box. If you plan to use a NAS or server to distribute media to other devices, you’d better pick Plex as it has been designed specifically for that purpose. But if you ask me which one is best, I would suggest you to choose KODI as your first choice since it is the easiest to setup and use.


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