TechMicrosoftAdding your DVD Library to a Windows Media Center...

Adding your DVD Library to a Windows Media Center PC with Windows Home Server on a Friday night

-

- Advertisement -

Blog Picture

Background

Over the last few months I have been using a HP MediaSmart Connect x280n on our plasma in the living room with limited success. The extender works as designed but there are a few limits to it that are just driving me nuts. The first limit is the lack of a keyboard and mouse. Now I know that the remote does a good job of manoeuvring around, but when certain programs like MCE and Radio 365 kick you over to a web browser I get stuck and start yelling at the plasma. Why do we always yell at the monitor? It is the actual unit we should be yelling at. The second limit is not being about to run movies from my dvd library. The extender, by design, does not run VOB files and, although there is a published hack to get them to play, it requires too much work for my system and library size.

Since I want to play DVDs, and now Blu-ray, I figured that I could spend about the same for a PC instead of piecing together separate parts. I am moving the x280 to another room and just got a refurbished Dell Hybrid with Blu-ray for $449 to hook up to the plasma. Some of the great features of the Hybrid are the HDMI out, optical audio, Vista Ultimate, Blu-ray/DVD and a sleek look.

HP MediaSmart Connect x280n was $170, Sony Blu-ray from Best Buy would be $299, for a total $469 so it would be about the same price.

So, if you want an extender then go get one but I would argue that a PC running Windows Media Center (WMC) would do better overall. If a new PC is not an option you might look for a Blu-ray drive upgrade on one of your existing PCs.

Equipment Needed

Windows Home Server with Power Pack Two with Windows Media Center support

PC with Windows Media Center

1 Beer (optional)

Windows Media Center

I am not going to go into detail about WMC in this article but if you have not used WMC you are missing out. It took me a while to “like” it but now that I have figured it out I really enjoy it. If you only have one PC then the advantages are few but if you have a multi-PC network with WHS and some flat screens then this is the product for you!

You can find additional information on WMC at:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-vista/features/media-center.aspx

or see blog articles at:

https://moviesgamesandtech.com/category/windows-media-center/

For those of you that have not added your DVDs to your WHS you can see how to add them at:

http://homeservershow.com/luxs-media-management-part-1-dvd-library.html

Mental Note: Find out how to change the background in WMC. The MS website has a cool underwater background on their WMC!

Installation

My PC is new to my network so this is the first time I am running WMC. I have already installed the WHS connector and connected to my WHS.

When I first open the WMC it asks to update the Windows Home Server connector with the new WMC software.

WHS Connector

Follow the prompts as shown below:

WHS WMC Connector 1

Enter your WHS password.

WHS WMC Connector 2

Let the process complete and it will then ask to restart.

WHS WMC Connector 3

If you want to see how Power Pack Two controls access to your WMC open up the WHS Console, click on Settings and click on Windows Media Center.

WHS Console showing WMC

Once the computer has restarted you are ready to access WMC. By default you will notice that your DVD Library is not listed.

Plasma with WMC

Mental Note: When WMC is in full screen the screen shots are black! Crap. See how I had to use an actual camera to show you the screen above? Well I discovered that if you take WMC out of full screen that the screen shots work! Just make sure you use ALT-Print Screen to just get the window you are actively using.

Configuration and Setup

You can walk through the process with me or view the directions at Microsoft. The directions (and an auto fix) to add the DVD Library view are listed here:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/930526

Microsoft says

“On a computer that is running Windows Vista, Windows Media Center displays DVD content that is stored on your computer in the DVD Library. However, the DVD Library is not automatically enabled. If it is not enabled, you cannot see your DVD content. This article helps you enable or disable the DVD Library feature in Windows Media Center on a Windows Vista-based computer.”

If Windows Media Center is running, close it.

Click Start

In the Start Search box type regedit.

In the Programs list, click regedit.

If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type your password, or click Continue.

Start Menu

Locate and then click the following registry subkey:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Settings\DvdSettings

In the details pane, right-click ShowGallery, and then click Modify.

regedit screen

Delete the contents that appear in the Value data box.

In the Value data box, type “Gallery”, and then click OK.

subkey Value data box

Close Registry Editor (leave it expanded for now) and restart your computer.

Once you have restarted your PC open up WMC. If Media Center now displays “DVD Library” instead of “Play DVD” you are finished! If it does not you may have changed the wrong registry setting. Go back and check what you changed or use the auto fix from Microsoft.

WMC with DVD Library

Click on dvd library. You will probably notice a couple of sample movie clips already in the WMC. You can ignore them or delete them.

We need to add the WHS location and tell WMC where to go.

You have to right-click Add folders to see content.

WMC Picture 1

Click on Add folder to watch and then Next

WMC Picture 2

Click on Add shared folders from another computer and then Next

WMC Picture 3

You should now see your server folders as choices. Check the folder(s) where you store your videos. I keep all of mine only in the Videos folder.

Click Next.

WMC Picture 4

WMC will now add the folder. Click on Finish.

WMC Picture 5

Once you have finished this process your DVDs will now be available in WMC. You might need to give it a minute depending on the speed of your connection and the amount of movies you have on your WHS. WMC will give you a count on the lower right corner. As you can see I have added about 25 of my 150 plus DVDs. Each DVD takes about 20 minutes to add so I add three or four each weekend. My Blu-ray titles are too large to upload so I play those directly from the Dell Hybrid.

WMC with DVD Library Titles

Conclusion

The Windows Media Center is a great application for viewing DVDs, pictures and playing music. It takes a while to get used to the interface but once you do you will see the advantages.

I hope you found this article interesting and useful. If anyone has questions I will respond to the posts.

See you next Friday night.

Timothy Daleo

Timothy Daleohttp://usingwindowshomeserver.com
Timothy Daleo is a Project Resource Analyst and Oracle Applications Trainer in Pasadena, California. In addition to financial analysis, Tim has been developing training materials since 2003 and supporting direct projects through various auxiliary databases since 2005.

14 COMMENTS

  1. This "Movie" feauture is great. I have place my kids movies on the server but they are now mixed with all my movies and TV-recordings. How do I change the "type" so I can sort them by type.

    The TV recordings are sorted by differtent types like "action", "comedy" and so on…

    But my own and my kids moives are just mixed in "other".

    Is it a way inside windows 7 media center to change the type? I used windows media player BUT I couldn't change the movies I have imported like you describe in this article.

  2. The title, type and year are all based on the metadata of the movie. Since we bypass that feature when we create the folder we lose that data. I am still looking into a way to work around it but I am not having any luck. I have tried altering the properties fields of the folder and the first VOB but to no avail!

    If anyone else has an idea let me know.

    Tim

  3. (Love your posts and blogs – it has guided my setup and comprehension, completely – so THANK YOU!).

    Streaming DVDs Question: I have 400+ movies ripped to VIDEO_TS,etc – they were on the local MediaPC… [I am now transitionning them to the WHS (MediaSmart ex485 + 2×1.5TB)… I used to lay awake at night worrying if my disks would fail and i would have to re-rip those DVDs, i digress]

    When i stream to Vista Media Center from the WHS (over wireless N) movies play great but then i get freezes/pauses/stutter intermittently. It is not at regular intervals… I cannot correspond it to any network events, necessarily… did you encounter this? Any ideas? I need a quick fix: my wife is not pleased.

    • Lets look at this real quick: Do you have another wireless PC that can replicate the problem? Do you know someone who can bring over a laptop that you could check and see if THEY get the same stutter? At least you would know if it was your HTPC.

      Have you ruled out it is not the EX485 itself and possible a memory issue? Can you stream to another PC without the stutter? Do you have a lot of Add-Ins sucking RAM?

      Do you use duplication across external drives that 5400 rpm? COuld it be a slow file reading issue on your HP MSS?

      Is your EX485 close enough to your HTPC to connect a network cable? You could rule out a wireless issue this way.

      I had a smiliar issue that was due to four walls between my wireless. My solution: I bought a small D-Link switch for $25 and a 50 foot ethernet cable for $17 and just hardwired it. Just connect your 50 cable to your router, run the wire up or down (have a friend help you while you crawl) and then connect the other end to the switch next to your HTPC. Connect your HTPC to the swtich and you are good to go. For $42 you can get 100 or 1000 speed and never worry about it again.

      http://www.meritline.com

      Now if after all of this it still stutters…

      Tim

  4. Thanks for the suggestions: I need to troubleshoot further but am watching my 7 month old for the weekend and was hoping for a simple – "Did you click the box that says…"

    as this setup evolves i am going to hardwire the locations and interconnect them over a gigabit switch (that'll solve any network latency issues) but in the interim i was hoping my Wireless N would carry the signal… Thanks again – I'll let you know my outcome [in this effort, Ive had great success in centralizing my DVDCacheInfo for an already existing DVDCacheInfo folder… I'll post seperately for others that may have run into this challenge.]

  5. Resolved!

    CPU was pegged at 80-100%; Network was 12-25% with spikes to 50% on the WHS… then the freezes and stutters corresponded to those spikes. So… I removed TwonkyMedia and the stutter/freezes were gone. This seems to be pretty commmon occurence with Twonky (seems a bit wonky – had to work that in there somehow).

  6. Twerrific. Resource issues happen often and are usually the easiest fix!

    Twanks for the posts.

    Twim

  7. Nice blog here! Also your web site loads up very fast!

    What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link
    to your host? I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol

Comments are closed.

Stay connected

7,137FansLike
9,247FollowersFollow
27,500SubscribersSubscribe

LATEST REVIEWS

Review: Aquamarine

You know how concept art is always way cooler than the final product? I’m thinking about the glorious pieces of artwork featuring Jack-Jack as...

Review: Windjammers 2

Review: Kinduo

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you