Is My Movies the Windows Home Server and Media Center’s ultimate add-in?
Last week I did a review of some of the more popular Add-ins for Windows Home Server which was also covered by a great site over in the UK called MS Windows Home Server. Thanks Phil and thank you all for the great comments and input that we received on this topic!
In that article I mentioned one Add-in in particular as my favorite, a nice little program called “My Movies”. This Add-in has truly made the difference in my Windows Home Server / Media Center experience as a whole! Not only has it changed (or to be more accurate, enhanced) the interface I use to play movies from within Media Center, but it also has completely organized and created an updatable database with a collection management feature.
My previous experience with using my HDTV HTPC Windows Media Center with an iomega StorCenter ix2 was such different story than what I am experiencing now with the combination of Media Center streaming digital media from a Windows Home Server. Again, there are quite a few really high quality UPnP NAS solutions out there. I think the big difference comes down to whether you’re using a Windows centric network as opposed to others. If you’re running Windows Media Center, standard UPnP devices just don’t have as much information available as you’re about to see with “My Movies”. Heck, even having a plain vanilla WHS without My Movies installed falls so short of the mark I can almost promise you’ll never go back.
So let’s get into the details…
My Movies was created by a company based out of Århus, Denmark called Binnerup Consult headed up by none other than Brian Binnerup. Originally started a sa spare time project known as “My DVD Collection” for Media Center 2004, this program (or “Add-in” in Windows Home Server speak) has become over time one of the “must have” Add-ins for WSH. The really great thing? This program is, for a good portion of the features, free! Yes, you can get all of the actual programs for free! The more advanced features within those programs require a number of points on your account, which you have the choice of accumulating either by purchasing them or by contributing meta-data to the services. The company will even start you out with the maximum 2500 points for 21 days so that you can experience the product in its entirety, all you have to do as ask for a trail! More information about that can be found here.
Assuming you are running a Windows Home Server, My Movies comes in three separate pieces at a minimum:
- My Movies for Windows Media Center
- My Movies Collection Management
- My Movies for Windows Home Server
My Movies for Windows Media Center
My Movies for Windows Media Center (WMC) extends the functionality of WMC, which is already built into Windows Vista and Windows 7. By extending I mean it creates a whole new menu within Media Center (pictured below) that adds a bunch of new features over the standard Movies entry in Media Center. Not only can you experience your entire movie collection on your HDTV (or even just your other computers) as you do in the normal Movies menu, but you now have control over how the movies are displayed on your screen with options of how many rows of DVD covers combined with where / if / and how much of the synopsis shows. (This is one of the features that comes with purchasing or contributing for points). You will also have full access to the movie details like playing the trailer, viewing the synopsis, browsing the cast & crew members, and checking out the extra features of the DVD / Blu-ray.
My Movies Collection Management
As if the changes made to your Windows Media Player weren’t enough, the collection management is an amazingly feature laden aspect of this software suite. The My Movies Collection Management product not only lets you maintain and manage your entire movie collection, using SQL server as its database infrastructure, it lets you add your moves with high quality meta-data from Binnerups’ online service. The database lets you add movies by means of scanning the barcode on the DVD case via your webcam, by Disk ID, by Title Look-up, or by plain ol’ old school typing! The Title look-up works great in my experience and usually when I add a DVD into the drive, the disk is scanned, identified, and you are given the option of copying it onto your hard drive and entering it into the movie database. The disk is copied using embedded AnyDVD software which, after the trial period runs out, you will need to purchase if you want to continue adding movies to your database in this manner. When you use the My Movies Collection Management Copy Disk function, which as mentioned uses AnyDVD, you will be reminded that “copying protected disks is illegal in some countries”. Please be aware of the laws in your country so that you aren’t doing something illegal! **Hopefully the movie companies in the US and UK will pull their heads out and realize that we should be able to make digital copies of our legally owned DVDs / Blu-rays so we can watch them on our mobile devices!!** 😉 Over all, the Collection Management is a very powerful and essential part of the My Movies package and really is what sets it apart from what any other UPnP NAS solution can provide (at least from what I’ve seen). Here’s a screenie of the interface:
My Movies for Windows Home Server
Rounding off the suite is the “server” portion of the package. Again, assuming you’ve got a Windows Home Server running, the rest of your PCs and Laptops running Windows Media Center will act as clients to the server. By installing this program you’ll have some new tabs in your Windows Home Server Console: My Movies Disk Copier, My Movies Monitor, and My Music Disk Copier. In addition to functioning as a My Movies server for you’re my Movies clients, it can function as a data provider for Media Center’s move library , Media Portal, Sage TV, Niveus Movie Library, and many other programs. It also contains a fully automated disc copier for DVD, Blu-Ray, as well as Audio discs (which BTW are legal to copy because there is not copy protection on them).
Once again, I find I’ve written a ton and have barely scratched the surface! My Movies also offers Android and iPhone programs to use to catalog your entire movie collection as well as an XBMC Scraper. ***XBMC being an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub for digital media that I plan on reviewing very soon after just stumbling upon it!***
Here’s the point people: if you are running a Windows OS centric home, you have a Windows Home Server, and want to have the richest movie management / watching experience for your HDTV I’ve found so far in the Windows Media Center / Windows Home Server world….
My Movies is it!