Last post was about setting up hardware and software. Next step is setting up one of the media centers that are available. I have tried Windows Media Center that is part of Windows 7, but I was unsatisfied how it handled my videos and music and all in all it was very confusing. So I decided to try XBMC, free alternative to MC.
XBMC is fully customizable media center and I must say that even out of the box it outperforms Windows MCE. Since I wanted it to look even more fancier, I installed Aeon MQ2 skin with all add-ons (200 MB in size). It looks little sluggish since it is scanning for new media files in the background and downloading more files over the network, but I can assure you that is performing very smoothly. Aeon MQ3 skin and add on packages are in the works so I will be switching to it when in is out of beta. To organize my movies and TV Shows, and download all posters, fanart and info, I use Ember Media Manager.
Below you can see a video of my media center running, and the movie shown is Bourne Identity with 720p HD resolution.
Here are some tips regarding HP MCE remote (or any other fully compatible MCE remote) that I have been using to control XBMC.
You can download MCE Remote plugin into XBMC (Settings – Add Ons – Program Add Ons), and try to remap remote control buttons. I tried it also, but after some time, it simply stopped working. Also, if you want to use green button to start XMBC instead of Windows MCE, modify XBMC shortcut in your Programs menu to use SHIFT + CONTROL + Z or whatever combo to start and remap Windows button on remote to send that key combo. Just install these applications and use the last one for remapping of MCE keys:
Enable "Remote Control Sends Keyboard Presses" in Settings – System – Input Devices
Install XBMCCustomregis Setup (do not restart after install)
Install AutoHotkey (restart after install)
Download and use Re-mapping app to remap remote controller keys
If you need them, full info and instructions can be found here!