PART 4 - Software

There is no use having all this fancy hardware in a cool case if there is no software installed! My HTPC is Windows XP based simply because thats where I get things working. I am no Linux expert and I simply dont have the time to start learning every tweak and trying to find some obscure driver here and there. If you are an enthusiast on a budget, then by all means go get Linux, but if you already have fleshed out the cash for a rig like the one I am building, a few extra dollars (or NOK in my case) wont set you back much to get that dream htpc up and running.

Rather than describing each piece of software I will just list them in a table here with a simple comment on them.

Windows XP HomePure vanilla XP will work fine for this setup. No real need for Pro features and MCE is definitely not needed since no feature of MCE will be used.
Meedio ProA highly configurable HTPC frontend that supports all the features I need. Also has a community of plugin creators and an enthusiasts forum with support.
Nvidia PureVideo CodecThe best quality codec you can get for your PC. Exist in different versions depending on what sound decoder you need. I will use free AC3 codec.
AC3Filter CodecFree Sourceforge version that can be used as decoder for several types of sound output and works fine with DVD playback.
AnyDVDA piece of software that lets me configure DVD spin speed to reduce noise when playing back music CDs and DVDs
???Software that lets me undervolt the Pentium M to make it run cooler
MediaPlayerFor the moment the software I use to rip CDs to the harddrive in WMA format (192 kbit/s) - hope this can be integrated in Meedio some way
MediaPortalAnother frontend that is an open source project. Works fine, but lacks some of the plugins Id like to make. Also pretty buggy in its current state, but also very rich in functionality as well as looking better than Meedio in many ways.

For Meedio I will use a number of plugins:

HDeeTVMeedio Theme for widescreen televisions - nice and clean layout
PlayMeeMedia player enhancer that e.g. can automount a DVD iso for playback.
Internet BrowserAdds fullscreen web browsing in a simple to use interface
Meedio HelperAddin that is used by several other addins
meeNorwayA nice addin to be able to view NRK television programs streamed from their web pages + from other sites as well

To use Nvidia Codec for video and AC3Filter for sound I asked on the Meedio forums and got a very friendly reply from one user who could provide me with his .meegraph file which needs to be copied into the codec/video directory:


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Written by John Christian Lønningdal - March 2006