Free media centers: the first step to smart home

Tens or even hundreds of gigabytes of music, a couple of seasons of your favorite TV series, a lot of photos and other multimedia laquo; hlamaraquo.; Is not it, a familiar picture? Most often, these data are scattered in hard drives, and only the owner of the computer can quickly find the movie or music album. Only the most pedantic users keep all laquo; dobroraquo, in strictly ordered collections on separate media. The remaining reason something like this: laquo; What’s the sort files or even rewrite data on the same disc? It is a waste vremeniraquo;.

Yet we should not rush to conclusions. By removing the multimedia data from a conventional computer, moving movies, music and photos to a separate media center, the benefits of this reshuffle will be apparent. When watching a movie you will never divert laquo; stukiraquo; ICQ and antivirus pop-up notifications. Relatives no longer come to you with requests laquo; Show photograph of … raquo; or questions laquo; which drive you laquo; Dr. Hausraquo;? Raquo;. The computer will not take up in your absence, and will be the most enjoyable to watch a movie on TV with wide screen, sitting on the couch.

And if you collect

Media center based on a miniature card form factor Mini-ITX, passive cooling, instead of honking the housing system can be compact, neat and completely silent HTPC, with the ability to view Full HD-video, and support for Wi-Fi.

The word media center for many do not understand. In fact it is – an ordinary computer, which uses a very convenient and simple shell, clear even to veterans of the Battle of Kulikovo. This computer can also be called a HTPC, which stands for Home Theatre Personal Computer. It can be used with the TV and even a remote control (in most cases sold separately). Media Center can perform different functions, it will replace the stereo, DVD-player. In addition, the media center will support every format, it will laquo; vseyadenraquo, (unless, of course, the hardware base of the computer is not too old) and could even lose the data on the local network.

MediaPortal 1.2.2: portal to the world of media

One of the important advantages of the shell MediaPortal is the presence of Russian language support. However, in the application’s configuration, you can see that all of the options of the program in English – it’s unfortunate omission localization.

Adjustment can be performed in standard mode or in advanced. The second option allows you to try some of the experimental program options, the stability of which the developers have not yet guaranteed.

Have fun funny message from the creators of the application – the last stage of installing MediaPortal nanbsp, the screen displays a message that the product is free and (the quote) laquo; … if you bought the program on ebay – you durakraquo.; There may have been precedents.

MediaPortal supports all analog card for TV reception with hardware MPEG-2 as well as all digital tuners, which can run on BDA-drivers. Before running the shell to configure the tuner, and a media center interface parametrynbsp these, and you can not look. Fine tuning of channels and a selection of broadcast standards and options broadcasting laquo; spryatanyraquo, in the configuration window media center, which opens separately from the shell.

We tried several DVB-T tuners and drew attention to the fact that the scanning frequency range is noticeably faster than laquo; rodnomraquo; software. Very comfortable and thoughtfully implemented record TV programs. To make sure your hard drive is clogged gigabytes of old TV shows, you can specify the maximum storage of recorded files, after which MediaPortal will automatically remove them from the media. Saving flow occurs without delays and slows down the system completely.

Image can be scaled by changing the aspect ratio of the image. In addition, the function of trimming allows you to manually specify the number of pixels on each side, to be excluded.

Center can use multiple algorithms for deinterlacing filter, but in fairness it must be said that we have it through once disconnected.

Conveniently implemented in the program display information about the currently playing content. The screen displays the playlist, album artwork, track information, and so on. You can also use the three-dimensional interface.

By default, the program contains only a basic set of features, many of its features are implemented as plugins. To search for add-ons and manage a special manager that allows you to load the appropriate module and start the installation wizard. We do not seem very comfortable, and the size of the plug-ins, too, could be smaller, because the load of nearly one hundred megabytes for small options – a bust.

XBMC: Media under any platform

XBMC Media Center – a free, cross-platform solution for home theater. It should be noted that the stability and functionality of the membrane is highly dependent on the selected platform. For example, Live-version of XBMC in this case was much laquo; shustreeraquo, and more stable than a similar application for Windows. The name that was mediatsenter because originally created as XBMC media center application for the first generation Xbox.

Media Center can work with devices with a touch screen, supports all models of presentation remotes. With it you can watch discs, listen to music, use dynamic playlists and so on.

Unfortunately, XBMC Media Center does not provide the ability to work with the tuner, but there are many other equally useful options. The official website of the project is a free add-on repository. They can be quickly and easily set up a media center in accordance with their preferences. For example, you can integrate into the shell of the center support for popular services – Flickr, Facebook, and others. You can also use a variety of supplements to gain access to online video content. Say, by installing National Geographic, you will be able to view some popular educational transmission channels at any time convenient for you.

XBMC can automatically download weather forecast for several days specified in regional settings.

Of shells mentioned in this article, the interface of XBMC we liked the most – it is convenient, fast, beautiful, looks good on the panel with wide screen and, most importantly, transparent. Not need to deal with configuration files or use laquo; shamanskieraquo, teams with a tambourine in her hand just put- and it works.

LinuxMCE: from the media center to laquo; clever domuraquo;

Some large corporations, such as, say, Samsung or Sony, already showing prototypes laquo; smart domovraquo.; The idea is to combine all the electronics, from air conditioning to television, into a single manageable network. A man comes home, he will be a computer and includes an appropriate program – at a given volume starts playing his favorite music in the room where it is located, automatically turns the light on the screen home TV displayed useful information, such as breaking news or have mail.

Until this concept looks fantastic, but its presence in every apartment – a matter of time. After all, the software solutions that would allow to do it all, already exist, and LinuxMCE – one of them.

Distribution LinuxMCE universal. It is not just the media center, it is a powerful platform that allows you to control a huge number of devices that support communication protocols TCP / IP, X-10, Z-Wave, EnOcean, INSTEON, PLCBus, EIB / KNX, 1-Wire. With LinuxMCE you can quickly connect and automatically configures devices Plug and Play, such as network players, cameras, IP-phones, and other tuners.

Laquo; Serdtsemraquo; system on a platform of LinuxMCE, a separate server. He monitors the connected devices and monitors the implementation of the instructions to be used under certain conditions. For example, if the camera captures light reduction, the system can turn on the lights and so on. You can also bind to the control functions of the platform security alarm.

To manage such a system can be operated mediaklient, whose role can perform a tablet, laptop, smartphone – everywhere will use the same interface, which is called the Orbiter. The official website of the project are available with a long list of devices that make it possible to remotely control the laquo; clever domaraquo, through this interface.

Currently LinuxMCE looks quite unusual, the design of the shell not everyone will like, and setting up distribution also need to tinker. But all these difficulties and disadvantages in comparison with what he learns to the media center to determine your position in the house – will turn on the lights when you go to the kitchen, or automatically continue to display video from the point at which you left.


Past relationship to music and movies, was quite different. Many apartments stood turntable, reel to reel tape recorder and later appeared etc. The ritual of watching a movie or listening to audio more like a cultural event – had to go to the closet and take the tape off the shelf, open the case and remove the paint from an entry on the media (by the way, even the term laquo; nositelraquo, then was not so common), insert the player may have to rewind the tape, twist the volume control, click Play.

Today everything is different. The man immediately finds what he is interested in, doing this little effort. He does not get up from the couch, he does not need to approach the cabinet. He simply presses the mouse button or pulls out his own iPhone. He is watching a movie or listening to music, but he forgets the story and song in ten minutes after the viewing and listening experience.

To some extent the blame for this lies on the conscience of marketers who are trying to implement the idea share your multimedia wherever you can – from mobile phones to watch and applications for recording CDs.

Described in this paper to some extent, media centers provide an opportunity to return the half-forgotten ritual. Of course, no tapes will not have anywhere to insert, but you come off at any time on the computer, and configure the software will be able to experience the pleasure of easy selection and viewing of movies or TV shows.

Discuss the material in the conference