When it comes to watching videos, there are a lot of different media players to choose from. Windows 7 Media Center is one of the most popular, but how does it stack up against the other players out there? This review covers the pros and cons of Windows 7 Media Center as well as how to best make use of the software.
Simple styling of the menu
The first thing you will notice is the simple styling of the menu in the media center. It will look familiar to anyone who has used a Zune simply because of the way it is set up and the ease with which you can navigate to different parts of the media center. There are side scrolling main tabs as well as vertically scrolling sub tabs for each different section.
Each time a tab is selected is displayed by a large icon that clearly states what you are about to choose. Even people who have very little computer experience will have absolutely no problem using the Windows 7 Media Center interface effectively.
Share recorded TV
One of the biggest additions to the Windows 7 version of the media center is the ability to share recorded TV. Media Center veterans will really appreciate this feature, because in the past there was no way to share recorded TV files from one computer to another. The Windows 7 version makes this extremely easy.
Another big change involves the sports section. This was added to the Windows Vista Media Center but there was no way to select the options that you wanted to see and get rid of all the others. If you were a European soccer fan you would have to scroll through water polo and Canadian ice skating just to get there.
The Windows 7 Media Center gives you the option to customize all the information that is actually relevant to you.
Media Browser Plugin
Media Browser is a very cool looking media aggregator plugin for Windows Media Center that presents your media in a completely different way compared to the standard WMC user interface. Here are the detailed instructions from the YouTube on how to install and use the Media Browser in practice.
Other new features in the WMC 7
For HTPC users, the Windows 7 Media Center is going to be an absolute delight. There have been a lot of changes to the interface of the program guide that was instated in an earlier version. The entire view has been color coded so that it is easier to distinguish between the different types of programs that come on.
The internet TV section has been moved more to the forefront of the guide, allowing people easier access to the shows that come through the internet. If you have a home theater PC, this is one of the best media centers out there for you to use.
The mini guide is back as well, allowing you to view what is on other channels without leaving the channel you are already on. This makes it extremely easy for viewers to switch between programs without missing a second.
All in all, the Windows 7 Media Center has made a lot of improvements over earlier versions. It is easy to use while still managing to be packed full of features that would get clogged up with each other in less user-friendly setups. The Windows 7 updates make it all worthwhile.
Not sure if this is the right media center for you? Check out my top 10 media center software round-up.