Windows 7 Media Center

Earlier this year I decided to to “cut the cord” and ditch my cable/fios TV service. I hooked up an old desktop I had to my HDTV via HDMI (I found a cheap video card with HDMI out for about $25) and used a Lenovo Multimedia Remote to control the PC. I’m using Windows 7 and watching TV through the browser had been working great. I got an Antennacraft Colorstar C290 from Radio Shack and put it in the attic so we could get all the local stations in HD.

I just recently got the itch to get a new video capture card so we could use the computer like a DVR and pause and record shows. I decided on the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250, and so far I LOVE it. I had forgotten how nice the Windows Media Center interface is! Setup was easy and now we have a fully functional DVR.

Now I am in the process of setting up W7MC to display all my movies properly. Here are some issues that I ran into and how to fix them.

1. No .mkv support: Windows doesn’t natively support .mkv files so I had to run this registry edit to get the files to show up in W7MC properly. Once the files showed up I noticed that they would not play. I was able to download the Matroska Splitter codec and then they played just fine. Just extract the zip folder and put the files at the root of C: and run the gabest_splitter_enable.cmd as an administrator.

*If the Matroska Splitter is not working properly for you, then try Haali Media Splitter. I was having issues where .mkv files ripped using MakeMKV with DTS audio were either not playing audio at all, or the video would play all the language audio tracks together at the same time.

2. No DVD box art or info for movies: To get the Movie Library to show the movie images you need to create a folder for each movie file. Then inside of that folder there needs to be a folder.jpg file that is used for the image. The info data needs to be in a .xml file in that folder as well. I found that DVD Library Manager works great for grabbing that image and data automatically. Just run the program and you can search IMDB or Amazon for the info, click save and you’re done.

That’s about it for now, but I’m sure I’ll find some more hacks and links to make W7MC even better.

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