Reviews: MediaPortal In The News!

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Over the years, MediaPortal has been reviewed by a large number of websites, blogs, magazines and newspapers. Some of these reviews are listed below.

Is a review missing?  If you are an author and your review is not listed, or if you stumble upon any interesting article while searching the web or your local magazines, please contact us today!

 

Most recent articles


PCWorld - HTPC Showdown: Which front-end interface is best?

"When you're ready to take your home theater PC to the next level, MediaPortal and Plex are the best tools to help you pull it off."

engadget - MediaPortal 1.3 exits beta with official Windows 8 support, revamped skins

"MediaPortal 1.3 is throwing its hat in the air today after graduating from beta to full release status. The Titan skin intended for 1080p widescreen displays has made the final version with plug-in support, but don't worry if it doesn't fit your style or screen, as the default skins have also been refined. UI themes and settings can be easily modified for deeper personalization, and you can now highlight shows in the TV guide to better plan your evening's entertainment."

BetaNews - MediaPortal 1.3.0 supports Windows 8

"Open-source Windows media-center tool MediaPortal 1.3.0 has been released after an extended period in Release Candidate mode. Version 1.3.0 debuts a fresh new skin, optimized for widescreen full HD displays, and also adds support for unencrypted Blu-ray disc playback."


engadget - MediaPortal 1.3 hits beta, scores new Titan UI, preliminary Windows 8 support

"The Titan skin spruces up the open source media player's interface with fresh visuals designed for folks with 1080p 16:9 displays. If you're worried about the new look harshing your plugin mellow, the Titan Extended option already plays nice with a handful of add-ons: OnlineVideos, MovingPictures, MP-TvSeries, My Films, Fanart Handler, Latest Media Handler, Trakt, InfoService and the Extensions plugin."

engadget - MediaPortal posts new beta with new look and CableCARD, teases bigger sequel

"A new 1.3 beta might offer just what home theater PC users have been looking for.... It carries a much more contemporary (and less Windows Media Center-like) skin with minor tweaks to the layout and overall interface."

Missing Remote - MediaPortal Adopts New Default Skin, Prepping CableCARD Support and MP2 Autumn Build

"There was a time when I would bounce from one media center frontend application to the next, always seeking out the perfect blend of eye-candy, customizability and functionality. One application that continues to find its way to my test system is MediaPortal."

Süddeutsche.de - Warum ein teurer Internet-Fernseher nicht notwendig ist (German)

"Deutlich mehr Möglichkeiten bietet die kostenfreie Software MediaPortal, die sich auf jedem Windows-Computer installieren lässt. Media Portal kann deshalb mehr als Internet-Fernseher, weil das System offen ist und nicht auf Apps begrenzt, die man herunterladen muss oder vom Hersteller aufgespielt bekommt."

 Smart TV - "Why an expensive Internet TV is not necessary" (translated title) 

"The free software MediaPortal, which can be installed on any Windows computer, gives you many more possibilities. MediaPortal can offer more than an internet television, because the system is open and not limited to apps that you have to download or which are preinstalled by the manufacturer."


Netzwelt.de News  - MediaPortal: Das perfekte Media Center für zu Hause (German)

"MediaPortal is a free program that turns any reasonably modern computer into a powerful media center."

CNET UK Reviews - How to stream live TV to your mobile phone

"If you have a digital TV tuner plugged into your Windows PC then it's possible to stream that signal direct to your mobile device, wherever you are. In this article we'll show you how to do it for free."

HTPCProject - MediaPortal Review

"...what separates MP from any other HTPC front end is how customizable it is... Factor in the fact it is free and open source and you are looking at the best piece of media center software available."2010


Techworld - MediaPortal 1.1.1

"MediaPortal is an excellent media centre, and arguably one of the most powerful open source applications around. If your TV tuner came with some feeble old viewing app, or you're not happy with Windows Media Centre, then give this a try instead."

Tweakers.net (Dutch) - Drie gratis mediacenter-apps getest - Three free media center apps tested
"Mediaportal is the right choice for people who want to use digital television. The software maybe somewhat complex for beginners, but the large choice of settings and modular design makes the software flexible and versatile."

"Almost mandatory for a media center with television aspirations is the presence of recording functionality and time shifting, and MediaPortal succeeds with flying colors. If multiple tuners are installed, it can easily record one program while viewing another channel. Furthermore... it warns on conflicts in the recording schedule and it can wake a PC with appropriate hardware from sleep mode to start a recording."


PC Professionale - Il personal computer in salotto
The magazine has reviewed seven media center commercial even for free. MediaPortal wins with the score of 8.5 tied with Sage TV (a commercial product).


Chip.de News (German) - MediaPortal: Gratis-Alternative zum Media Center
A news article on the release of MediaPortal 1.1.0 - "Gelungene Alternative zum Windows Media Center: das kostenlose MediaPortal." - "Alternative to a Windows Media Center: the free Media Portal."


My Opera - HTPC Blog - MediaPortal HTPC Software Review

"To begin with MediaPortal can perhaps be a bit difficult to setup. The effort is well worth it as you get a powerful media center with many features for free!"


Personal Computer Magazine (Dutch) - MediaPortal

"large amount of features... plus points: Watch Digital and Analog TV, and Radio Streams."


YouTube - HTPC für weniger als 300€ mit Mediaportal
User video showing a well configured MediaPortal installation.


The Digital Lifestyle - Mediaportal vs Media Center? Which to choose?
"MediaPortal is a stellar example of how free, open source software can harness the power of the masses and deliver a powerful and productive application that offers the user a wide variety of choice. While currently windows only, MediaPortal will work on anything from XP to Windows7 so there’s no need to upgrade that old HTPC just yet."


Freeware Mission - MediaPortal Review
"There is almost no limit to what this program can do... I was quite impressed with its features, a true all-around program."


PC Utilities - MediaPortal Review
"MediaPortal looks every bit as good as XP MCE"


Geektonic - Suresh's Home Theater and HTPC
"I still cannot believe that mediaportal is a free software. For people like me who use want to organize their movies, music photos and have a nice interface with customizable screens etc….mediaportal is the way to go."


Techosaurus Rex - MediaPortal Review
"All in all, I have to say that I STRONGLY recommend MediaPortal, I'm very happy with its DRM-Free Attitude, operation and general glossy sheen. It's very professional looking unlike a lot of open source software I've used while maintaining flexibility and community driven growth and support."


AVS-Forum - MediaPortal 1.0 vs Vista Media Center user review
"Mediaportal works out of the box with standard file formats that VMC is tricky to get to work properly with such as ogg"


Computer Totaal (Dutch) - MediaPortal 1.0 - Alternatief voor Windows Media Center
""MediaPortal is software die in veel opzichten lijkt op Windows Media Center, met als verschil dat u meer mogelijkheden hebt en minder restricties." -> "MediaPortal is software which seems a lot like Windows Media Centre, with the difference being that you have more functionality and less restrictions."

 

GeekTonic - Testing The MediaPortal Waters - Experiencing New HTPC Software
" importing my music and ripped DVD library was quick, painless and error free. The importing tasks are all performed via the neat configuration application that handles the plugins. Again, HTPC front ends such as SageTV would certainly benefit from having a tool like this for handling these tasks from the 2 foot interface. "


Downloadsquad - Media Portal home theater PC app for Windows hits 1.0
" just installed Media Portal 1.0 on my netbook, and aside from the fact that I had to download and install Microsoft's .NET framework first, the process was pretty much a breeze. "


Telematics Freedom Foundation - FLOSS Media Center State of the Art Comparison Chart
" We compared the 10 most prominent FLOSS projects: XBMC, MythTV, Boxee, Elisa, Neuros OSD, Freevo, My Media System, Entertainer, CenterStage+Plex and MediaPortal. "


Software Informer - MediaPortal 1.0
" You can see the weather, listen your music, view your movies, and more with this lovely program very intuitive and totally amazing. Disadvantages: Hasn´t Disadvantages. "


Raiden's Realm - Review: Media Portal 0.2.3.0
" Overall I'm very impressed with Media Portal... it's worth grabbing if you want a good DVR software that will work with most of what you have. Between this and MythTV, I'd say the developers of Media Portal have succeeded at slightly better hardware support, given that more TV Capture Cards, remotes and other associated hardware is supported vs MythTV. "


CNET UK - Open-source software rated: Ten alternatives you need
".. go grab yourself MediaPortal, because it's bloody marvellous."


IDG.se - Stor guide: gratis program är bäst i din htpc


Softpedia - Version reviewed:MediaPortal 0.2.2.0
"If you want a mediacenter-type of software to play your DVDs and your music, watch your pictures, get weather reports and so on, but you are not necessarily set on spending money on such a piece of technology, Media Portal is definitely one of the first choices."


PVRWire - MediaPortal - Alternative to Windows Media Center
"The great thing about MediaPortal is it is open source meaning it's a lot more customizable than the regular Windows MCE."


Afterdawn - Mediaportal v1.1.0 Beta 1 User review
"this software is so good that a member of the Microsoft Media Center team recommends it on his blog, and numerous well respected magazines and websites laud it as it justly deserves. I hope you love it as much as I do."


Digital World - Media-Center gratis
"Sie suchen ein Media Center? Die freie Software Media Portal kann alles: Fernsehen, Musik, Fotos. Digital.World zeigt Ihnen, wie Sie Media Portal installieren."


Online PC - Testsieger: MediaPortal
"MediaPortal schlägt Sceneo TV Central, Nero Premium, Showshifter, Cyberlink Power Cinema and Intervideo Home Theater Platinum"


Marketing your biz - MediaPortal Review
"If you are comparing Media Portal against upgrading to XP Media Center, then Medial Portal will win hands down on functionality."


 

Netzwelt - Projekt HTPC: MediaPortal einrichten
"Mittlerweile gibt es aber genügend Alternativen zur relativ engstirnigen Mediacenter Edition von Microsoft und zur kryptischen Linux-Oberfläche...Wir haben uns für das kostenlos erhältliche Programm MediaPortal entschieden"

  • MP Showroom TV 720p
  • MP Showroom Video-DVD 720p
  • MP Showroom Music 720p
  • MP Showroom Radio 720p
  • MP Showroom Pictures 720p
  • MP Showroom Weather 720p
  • MP Showroom Plugins 720p
  • MP Showroom Skins 720p
  • TV

    Watch live TV, record shows to your hard drive, or view the TV guide on any PC in your home. You can even watch and record TV at the same time

  • Videos

    Browse your movies with full DVD covers and details automatically downloaded from IMDB (Internet Movie Database). All you have to do is make the popcorn, MediaPortal does the rest.

  • Music

    View all your artists, albums, tracks, CDs, DVDs or playlists, with album art and artist images. Play your music using high quality Bass effects, while watching your favorite visualizations.

  • Radio

    Tune radio stations via your TV Card Tuner, or add web stations like ASX or Shoutcast then stream them throughout your home via any PC·client conneted to the MediaPortal TV-Server.

  • Pictures

    Scan your drives and display all your photos or images, either as a single image or a slide show presentation, on your widescreen HD TV!

  • Weather, News, Info

    Get five day weather forecasts for cities around the world; view satellite weather images; keep track of all your RSS feeds, or check Wikipedia - all in the comfort of your living room!

  • Plugins

    Hundreds of developers create plugins for MediaPortal that do almost anything you can think of, with new ones added almost daily. The only limit is your imagination.

  • Skins

    MediaPortal skins offer a variety of looks and styles to suit your taste, even different user interfaces. or screen sizes. Many skins offer a choice of layouts, font sizes and options for your Home screen.

MediaPortal: Discover the Features

Do you want a Home Theatre with audio streaming throughout your home, a digital photo album to organize all your photos and webcam videos, access to web streams and information like weather, news, sports or Wikipedia, plus a super TiVo? With MediaPortal (MP) you can do all this and more, from the comfort of your sofa. It is the most feature rich Media Center software in the world today, and it's free!

"I still cannot believe that MediaPortal is a free software. For people like me who want to organize their movies, music photos and have a nice interface with customizable screens etc….MediaPortal is the way to go." - GeekTonic, April 09, 2009

Watch and Record TV

MediaPortal Titan_Feature_TVWatch live or recorded TV on any networked PC. You can do everything a TiVO can, and more, but for free!

Use the TV Guide to group your channels, view program details and upcoming airings, or list recorded or scheduled programs.

Change channels easily using Mini TV Guide or 'zap' through channels while watching TV.

Continue Reading

Listen to Music

MediaPortal Titan_Music_Now_PlayingListen to all your music using high quality Bass effects, or your own player.

View artist images and details, album covers and fanart backdrops.Organize, sort and view your music in whatever way YOU like - by artists, albums, genres, top 100, songs or even file size.

Create your playlists manually or automatically and listen for hours to your favorite music!

Continue Reading

Enjoy Pictures & Home Videos

MediaPortal Titan_031MediaPortal can scan your drives and display all your photos or images for you, either as a single image or a slide show.

View or sort your favorite images as you like.

Organize your images, view picture details or create a slideshow with transitions or other special effects.

Continue Reading

Style MediaPortal with Skins

MediaPortal- Titan_000092The default skin, available for both 4x3 and 16x9 (SD) screens, is designed with elegant simplicity to perform well even on older PCs.

Our new Titan HD skin, displayed in many screenshots here, offers a stunning design with fullscreen fanart, horizontal icon based Home screen, and various layout options.

Our community designers have also created many sophisticated skins with unique, original styles. One is sure to suit your taste.

Continue Reading

Play Videos, DVDs & BRDs

MediaPortal Titan_Feature_VideosBrowse all your movies, videos and DVDs, with cover art and details. Then watch them with superb quality playback.

Organize, sort and view your movies and videos however you wish. Add detailed movie info, posters, covers, even actors photos and bios.

Create playlists 'on the fly' then sit back and enjoy Home Theater at its best.

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Stream and Record Radio

MediaPortal Titan_Feature_RadioListen to FM or web Radio on any PC, even on your network, and record your favorite programs.

Tune in your FM radio stations automatically; or add stations from your satellite cable (DVB) provider. You can also add web streams, including ASX or Shoutcast.

Organize your stations, and use the Radio Guide with all the same features as the TV guide.

Continue Reading

Check Weather, News & More

MediaPortal Titan_Feature_GameGet weather data for as many cities as you like, anywhere in the world, and view satellite weather images.

Add and view all your RSS feeds, to keep up with the latest news on your favorite subjects.

Play Games like Tetris and Sudoku.
Use system utilities to monitor hardware, burn CDs/DVDs or edit Videos.

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Extend features with Plugins

MediaPortal Titan_Feature_PluginsAll main features are included in MediaPortal; you do not require any additional plugins.

However, there are hundreds of amazing plugins available to do almost anything you can imagine–seamlessly integrated into the MediaPortal interface.

Continue Reading

Access from the Web or Mobile device

thumb webmp blueshift2Away from home? On the go? Access MediaPortal remotely from anywhere in the world, using your web browser, Android, iOS, and more.

Plus turn any device on your wifi  network into a remote control. 

Continue Reading

 

Requirements

MediaPortal will run fine on recent Windows computers (see supported Windows versions below).
However, make sure you have installed the software components described in the following list.

 

  • computer-icon   Recommended Minimum Hardware

    Although MediaPortal may run on even less powerful hardware, the following is the minimum recommended for SD playback:

      • CPU: Intel P4 with 2.0 GHz / AMD XP-2000+ or above
      • Memory: 1024 MB
      • HDD: 600 MB for MediaPortal
      • HDD: 50 GB for TV recordings and time shifting. Recordings can take up to 8GB per hour
      • Video card: DirectX 9 compatible video card with at least 128 MB of video memory
      • TV card: MediaPortal TV-Server supports all analog TV cards with hardware MPEG-2 encoder and all digital TV cards which use BDA-drivers. For specific features, see Supported TV Cards in our wiki

     

  • Recommended Hardware for HDtelevision-icon

    The following is the minimum hardware recommended for HD (1080p/i) playback for both videos and TV.

    • CPU: Dual-core CPU with 2,0 GHz or above
    • Memory: 1024 MB
    • Video card:
    • Codecs: LAV Filters (can be selected during installation as of 1.3.0 beta), although you may use any codecs you wish with MediaPortal

    Testing HD Playback

  • File system

    file-manager-iconTV recordings can use a lot of hard disk space. The exact amount depends on the bit rate, resolution, and format of the the transmission. A one hour SD recording will typically require approximately 2.5 GB of space; a one hour HD recording will typically require approximately 5 GB of space.

    NTFS file system is highly recommended as it significantly increases the number of hours you can record to the same amount of disk space.
     
    USB sticks are not suitable for recording/timeshifting drives as the large capacity sticks often have abysmal write speeds and come formatted as FAT32 by default.
  • TV-Server specific Requirements:

    database-iconDatabase Server Requirements:

    It is necessary to select one of the following databases during installation:

    Microsoft SQL Server

    • Microsoft SQL Server 2008
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express Edition

    Sun MySQL 5 (Windows)

    • MySQL 5


    The installer downloads and configures the SQL server for you. However, you may use almost any version of SQL Server from 2005 onwards.

    Dependencies:

    The TV-Server depends on the RPC Locator service activation. This service should be automatically installed with the Client for Microsoft Network under the properties of your network card.

    We strongly recommend to use static IP addresses and disable IPv6!

    Additional Recommended Tools:

  • Supported Operating Systemswindows-logo

     

    • Windows Media Center Edition 2005 with service pack 3
    • Windows Vista 32- and 64-bit with at least service pack 2
    • Windows 7 32- and 64-bit with at least service pack 1
    • Windows 8 32- and 64-bit (as of v1.3.0)
    • Windows 8.1 32- and 64-bit (as of v1.5.0)
    • Windows 10 32- and 64-bit (as of v1.12.0)

    We strongly recommend you always install always the latest available service pack for your platform.

  • Unsupported Operating Systems

    Please note that the following operating systems are not officially supported. However, you will be able to run MediaPortal on some of them. Use the following overview as a guideline only.

    Warning-IconMP won't run on the following OS:
    • Windows 2000 and older editions
    • Windows XP 32-bit Edition before service pack 3
    • Windows XP 64-bit Edition
    • Windows Vista before service pack 2
    MP will issue a warning, but will install on:
    • All beta/preview versions of Microsoft Windows
    • Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2012 (Windows Server operating systems do not include TV tuner support)
    • All beta/release candidate service packs
    • Windows XP 32-bit Edition with at least service pack 3

    Please, do not submit bug reports when running an unsupported operating system.

  • Operating System Componentsgear-icon

    • Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1
    • Microsoft .NET Framework 4
    • Microsoft Microsoft DirectX 9.0c (June 2010 redist)
      • Note: Using MP 1.0.0 or above the installer will automatically install latest DirectX if necessary.
      • Note: In Vista it's also required to have November 2008 DirectX End User Runtime installed.
    • Microsoft latest available Windows Media Player Version
      • Note: MP 1.0.0 or above will automatically prompt you for the download of latest WMP.
    • Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Service Pack 1 Redistributable Package ATL Security Update
      • VisualCNote: Using MP 1.0.0 or above the installer will automatically install latest Visual C++ Redistributable Package if necessary.
      • Note: If the component is downloaded and installed manually, be sure to use the x86 package even on x64 systems.
      • Note: On Microsoft's download page, Windows 7 is not listed for this package. Nevertheless it is required and working fine for Windows 7, too.
  • Required Updates and Hotfixes:WindowsUpdate

    • Common to all operating systems
    • Only for XP / MCE2005
      • BDA/DVB hotfix - This hotfix is essential for viewing digital TV broadcasts using either analog or digital TV cards. It is already included in roll up 2 of Windows MCE 2005, for Windows XP you have to install it manually. [Updated psisdecd.dll]
      • Firewire hotfix - This hotfix is necessary if you have upgraded to Windows XP SP2 and use FireWire devices. It is already included in Windows XP SP3.
      • Videoplayback flicker hotfix - This hotfix resolves a problem with flickering video playback. [Updated quartz.dll] It is already included in Windows XP SP3.

  • Titan BH Settings
  • MediaPortal Titan Video Settings
  • 1 language
  • MediaPortal Titan 000148
  • MediaPortal Titan 000150
  • MediaPortal 000044
  • MediaPortal Titan TV Recorded TV
  • MediaPortal Titan Settings Skin
  • It's Easy to Get Started

    You don't need a fancy, expensive system. Just connect your TV and sound system to your existing PC,configure MediaPortal to display on your TV screen, and be up and running in no time

  • Settings

    Many settings can be selected within MediaPortal. Or use the Configuraton tool to configure even the most advanced options, for core features plus extensions

  • Installation

    Our Installer, or Deploy Tool, will download all required software for easy installation or upgrades. You can choose to save the downloaded files to deploy on client PCs or other installations

  • Designed for Windows

    You can play any file that plays in Windows. The top notch performance and suberb playback quality make it the choice of media enthusiasts

  • Navigation

    Use MediaPortal with almost any remote, keyboard, mouse, touch screen or even an external mini display. Special controls are built in to help you. Standard menus, context menus, layouts and views make it easy to use.

  • MediaPortal is International

    MediaPortal already supports over 30 languages with ongoing additions. Local TV Guide data, movie data, and weather information is available for most regions around the world. If not, it's easy to add your own

  • Watch & Record TV at the same time

    There is no limit to the number of TV Cards you can use. You can even watch and record more than one channel using a single DVB/ATSC card. View the status of all recordings in the TV Guide or Mini Guide

  • Skins are more than Themes

    MediaPortal Skins can change the look and feel of MediaPortal, and even the way you interact with it by offering different menu styles, display layouts and features

MediaPortal: Find Out More

"MediaPortal is a stellar example of how free, open source software can harness the power of the masses and deliver a powerful and productive application that offers the user a wide variety of choice...Offering the more flexible and customisable solution, MP is a seriously viable alternative to its Microsoft counterpart, and head-to-head I’d chose it..." - The Digital Lifestyle, March 09, 2009

Performance!

Unlike many other Media Center programs, MediaPortal was designed especially for Microsoft Windows. Thus, the performance and playback quality is unsurpassed. No additional hardware or commercial software is required.

You can play any file that you can play in Windows. In Windows 7, codecs are included, and supported by MP out of the box. So you do not need to install anything to play all your files.

Hardware and Network

MediaPortal works on many different configurations. You don't need a fancy, expensive system. You can just connect your TV and sound system to your existing PC and be up and running in no time. Simply configure MediaPortal to display on your TV screen.

Use your mouse, a touch screen, keyboard or remote. Display either fullscreen or in windowed mode. It's your choice.

If you prefer, you can set up a separate Home Theatre PC (HTPC) to run MediaPortal, and even connect it to your existing network.

Or, you can configure an advanced network with MediaPortal on the server and as many 'client' PCs as you like. Network architecture is fully supported, so you can stream radio, music, video and live or recorded TV throughout your home.

Remotes

thumb_mceremote

Most common remotes are supported natively and you can easily configure them however you like. Or, configure MediaPortal to recognize your own remote. You can decide which keys you want to use for which actions.

IR Server Suite (IRSS) expands support to 28 more remotes, from iMON to Wii and MacMini. With IRSS you can create layers for your remote so one key can perform many functions. If you want to press the 'Green Button" and start MP, then use the built in Tray Launcher application. Or, use Translator to create macros for control of other devices, like your Blu-Ray player.

User Interface

MediaPortal provides a variety of options to allow you to customize the interface yourself.

There are two Home Screens: Home and Basic Home. Both can be customized, but BasicHome allows even more flexibility in style and layout and is often used by community skins to support submenus, weather forecasts, RSS feeds and more all on the Home Screen.

Menus and Context Menus are available throughout MediaPortal to allow you to select and even configure options for the window you are viewing.

TV and PVR Support

MediaPortal offers you the most powerful TV Engine and PVR (Personal Video Recorder) available today. You can do everything a TiVO can do, and more, but for free.

thumb_floppydtv_front_400

There is no limit to the number of TV Cards you can use. A vast array of TV Cards are supported, including analog cards. With a single DVB/ATSC card you can watch and record more than one channel. Cards supporting BDA driver architecture require no configuration.

Internationalization

Over 30 languages are supported by MediaPortal. You don't need to install a separate version or a plugin, just select your language and away you go!

Plugins & Skins

MediaPortal was designed to be extended. There are hundreds of amazing plugins available to do almost anything you can imagine.

Skins are more than just themes. They not only change the look and feel of MediaPortal, but often the way you interact with it. There are dozens of skins available, you are sure to find one that suits your taste.

Plugins and Skins are fully and smoothly integrated into MediaPortal. They can be installed and updated using a common Extensions Installer, and configured using the standard interface.

Installation

Installation is very easy with our installer (Deploy Tool). It will check your system and prompt you if any required components are missing or need updating.

Configuration

Configure all main features, plugins, and skins in a single, easy to use interface. The same interface is used to configure the TV Server and it's plugins. User files, log files and updates to plugins and skins have links for easy access right on the Configuration screen.

Diagnostics

Diagnostics are built into MediaPortal - Watchdog will automatically capture log files whenever an error occurs. You can even choose the level of error reporting you wish.

The Debug-Mode shortcut, on the Windows Start Menu, automates the entire procedure, clearing previous logs, starting up MediaPortal collecting logs in debug mode when you exit and storing them in a zip file on your desktop for you to submit in the Forums.

MediaPortal is breaking the limits

 

Stress & Reliability Load Test: 7 Tuner Configuration

 

A Media Portal system and software verification test of:

Stability, Performance, Reliability, and Architecture

The “First In A Series” of Tests from the Developmental and Testing Team of: Media Portal

PUBLISHED: 3-12-2005

AUTHOR(s): Media Portal Development and Test Team

 

image005  image015

 

Links:

Download review in PDF format:

 

Introduction:

The Media Portal Development and Testing Team is committed to delivering its growing user community a robust, feature rich, customizable, “and most importantly” stable-well behaved/performing product.  It’s becoming abundantly apparent to both the Media Portal user community, and those who follow the HTPC scene – that Media Portal is a product making intense traction and displacing many others in the process.  Testament that teamwork, commitment, and not always the $ can deliver the strongest solutions. 

The hours behind the scenes on each and every morsel of the application to deliver stability, reliability, and performance have and will remain countless.  Many of our tests are “Extreme” in nature (often beyond the typical of real-world scenarios).  Our belief is if we can test and deliver the limits, we can comfortably deliver the most practical – and offer the stretch room for the power HTPC user at the same time.

This following test/report is the first in a “Series of Tests” being architected for our users; actually 2 more are complete and pending publishing.  The Team has tested many “Worldwide” tuner configuration scenarios.  As can  be seen with our progress, the focus of MP to deliver high volumes of Multi-Tuner options is just one of the feature enhancements you’ve begun to see.  The test illustrated in this example focuses on the Hauppauge Series of PVR Hardware Encoder cards.  Each of their prime cards were used, (1ea) PVR-150MCE, (2ea) PVR-250, (2ea) PVR-500’s.  Ultimately we will expand   the flavor of card testing in future tests but believe this establishes a solid foundation for most users. 

This (7 Tuner “Media Portal Power Tower ”) document focuses on these key aspects for content and illustration:

*     SCREENSHOTS: Many illustrations and real-time “screenshots”.  The test was completed in a constant timeframe so all images are reflective of the test “in-process”.

*     SOFTWARE: All of the software that was used to build our MP Stress Tester is documented below.

*     HARDWARE: The hardware, information, and physical and interior – exterior screenshots of our test system.

*     CONFIGURATION: We show configuration aspects of a multi-tuner system and basic examples to get them up and running.  Ultimately – there are only a few parameters to consider with multi-tuner vs. single tuner systems.  NOTE: This test is not intended to be a step-by-step tutorial, please refer to the forums for basic level configuration specific to you needs.

*     LOADING-UP Recordings: There are quite a few ways within Media Portal that users can select a program to “record”, we were sure to use each of those steps to get recordings going – ultimately to further demonstrate real world practical use.

*     CPU Gauging: Ultimately this is what we are after, efficient software, utilizing hardware encoders to do their job “offload” and make sure plenty of CPU cycles are left for a responsive system and I/O requests to keep the system running smooth.

*     24 Hour Test Report: Our test did not stop with this test, then stopping the recordings.  This test was run for a 24 hour period with a consistent probe on CPU usage and stability of the system.  We provide the feedback.

Media portal Test - System profile:

Software:

Below is the basic makeup of the exact system (Hardware and Software) prepared from ground-up for the purposes of the pressure test.  This platform has also served, with many others, as foundation for the growth of the Media Portal platform.  Most of the software and hardware (although perhaps not specific to your configuration) are generally available and non-proprietary in any sense.  The goal was for the test to be practical to show the ease of building a Media Portal platform to suit your needs “even though we took it to the next level for testing”.

Software:

Version:

Media Operating System

Media Portal Build 0.1.0.9

System OS

MS XP-Pro SP2

Video CODEC’s

Intervideo WIN-DVD V 6.0

Video Drivers

NVIDIA Forceware 66.93

PVR Tuner Card Drivers

Hauppauge Current Published

DirectX

DirectX 9.0C

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hardware:

So above we see nothing outside the realm of a basic system setup, obviously the Codecs, Video Cards, and Tuners may differ for individual users needs and liking.  All in all our Testing Team has pretty well verified the test results with other Video Cards such as ATI, and Codecs such as NVIDIA.  The fact that as you can see below all of our TV Tuners are hardware-encoder based, they will produce optimal results.  Our CPU tested provided us with sufficient power, but please take special note that we did “short-change” the test so our results would be real-world and we likely could have used Serial-ATA disks, Spanned Recordings across disks, loaded some more RAM, and also not used the Maximum Video quality which was Media Portal HQ (6Mb – 12Mb/sec VBR).  With that said – the software configuration you see above, and all of the hardware below.

Hardware:

Version:

Case / Motherboard

Antec Sonata Silent / ASUS 1-AGP, 5-PCI

CPU

3.0Ghz P4 Hyper Threaded

Memory

512MB Ram

Hard Disk

250GB Maxtor 7200

Video Card

NVIDIA G-Force FX5200

TV Tuner (Hardware Encoding PVR’)

(2)-PVR500’s, (2)-PVR250’s, (1)-PVR150 = 7 NTSC Tuners for this test

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hardware Breakdown of: (Media Portal Power Tower)

Below are actual internal and external images of the system configuration to show how card placement is configured, and what the Team uses for our quality assurance and performance testing of Media Portal.  Further below you will see these physical cards configured within both the XP Operating System, and then in Media Portal for tuning purposes. 

*     (Pictures below): The rear of the Antec Tower and from left to right are installed.  1) NVIDIA FX5200 Graphics Card, 2) USB2 Rear ports, 3-4) PVR500’s, 5-6) PVR250’s, 7) PVR150.  Directly below that image are the cable connectors applied to those cards.  The beauty of the PVR500 is although 2 tuners exist; the splitter is internal so only a “single cable” is needed and helps to minimize the cable mess.

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*     (Pictures below): The images will give you a pretty solid look at the internal of the Power Tower.  Several disks are installed in  the system but RAID is not available, nor is more than a single disk used for the testing results below.

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System Configuration: (Tuner Configuration)

Although this testing document is not intended to be a tutorial, the Team felt compelled to give “functional illustrations” for visibility and understanding of some of the basic steps to get a multi-tuner configured and operational with Media Portal.  The reality is, if you have installed a single tuner of your choice – then installing more is simply finding free slots, then duplicating the steps. 

You will find a few additional configuration parameters for multi-tuner such as “Priority” which is part of the algorithm that Media Portal will use to select the tuner card used for recording.  You may also choose to select a single card to “not record” if you prefer, and let the other(s) handle the recording.  For more details on specific multi-tuner configurations refer to the support forums.

Verifying and preparing your tuners:

(XP Device Manager Verification): Once you have physically installed your tuners, the next “best practice” is to make sure before proceeding with Media Portal is that the XP Operating System has no flags or errors on the cards.  This is done thru Control Panel / Device Manager.  As you can see all of our 7 tuners are simply waiting for a little action – and are cleanly installed and ready.  You may also use Device Manager to disable/enable tuners if you are doing testing rather than completely removing a tuner from the system.

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(Media Portal TUNER Configuration): At this point you will now proceed to configure your new, or additional tuners, within the Media Portal configuration manager.  The team would suggest to minimize your complexity and confusion that you become comfortable with getting your first tuner operational before proceeding with the remainder.  It’s obvious that our test is a “tad excessive” for practical usage, but even in our testing we make sure that we can get our first tuner up and running, then add the second, the begin layering the remainder of the tuners into the Media Portal configuration.

* The Team has made an Interactive Clip (12 MB) that shows the configuration aspects of the Media Portal configuration. 

The images below will be very familiar to you if you have configured your Media portal tuner cards.  Ultimately what you are now seeing is the fact we have repeated this 7 times for each tuner in the system.  We chose one tuner for non-recording, and this was simply to demonstrate this as a possible option for you.  Also is each tuner can be given the same priority or incremental (higher ones will be chosen for recording first).

MediaPortal Tuner Configuration:

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(Media Portal CHANNEL mapping): Now that all of our tuners have been configured, our last step is to assign the channels that each tuner will be able to access.  The Media Portal FLEXIBILITY here is yet another key bonus of MP.  You can have pre-defined Genre channel Groups for News, Movies, Children, Sports, etc.  Also, in some configurations you may have variance in tuner cards in which some can receive satellite channels – and other cable, etc.  Each tuner is simply has the channels mapped to the card and this gives the card the information it needs in order to channel change.  This data can be entered manually, or it can be imported from the XMLTV TV Channel Configuration.  Our test uses land-cable with signal amplifiers to increase signal clarity and quality.

Media Portal (Channel Mapping) for each tuner:

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Loading up the “Recordings” and “Load” on the Media Portal Power Tower:

Pre-Test Technical Commentary:

Ultimately as we stated at the beginning of our document, this was not intended to be a tutorial – but an extreme and continued testing platform as the Development and Testing Team delivers code to our outstanding user community.  We believe if the system can handle extreme loads, we can hopefully deliver to you the practical without hesitation.  At the same time, the days of a single tuner PVR or even dual tuner PVR’s are passing.  Media Portal is being designed to grow with and around you, hence our commitment for extreme testing.

The testing illustrations you see below are all “Real Time”, not a single image was edited – and maybe we even lost a CPU point or two for the purposes of real-time screen capture.  To reiterate, there were a configuration aspects we could have added to make our performance numbers more favorable; but chose not to for no other reason than practical hardware I/O configurations. 

Those items we chose to exclude and are quite certain would have saved us a minimum of 5% CPU on each test were:

 1) Single Drive Recording Point

 2) Standard ATA/IDE Drive Configuration

 3) Maximum Video Quality Recordings 8Mbps/12Mbps (VBR)

 4) Basic 512MB RAM Configuration

 

Placing the Load on the System:

Now we move forward with placing a 24 hour load on our system.  We  did not load it up, then wind it down – but stressed the box for 24 hours with a complete CPU, I/O, and Process report for our Development Team.  So many tests at this point have been done to this degree that we were confident with what the CPU results we would be able to deliver, but the level of load and amount of time the system sustained stability was very pleasant for the entire Team.  The system remained interactive for the entire test – in large to delete recordings as the drive was filling pretty fast for a single disk configuration.

There are several convenient options for placing a show into “Recording Status” within Media Portal.  We wanted to navigate the system like the average user and simply disregard the fact that we had 7 tuners in our box, six which were prepared for recording, and one reserve for LiveTV viewing (which could have been a recording tuner as well). 

The steps we used to place shows in recordings for the immediate and future loads were:

  • MyTV Screen - RECORD NOW, Manual Recordings
  • LiveTV – RECORD NOW “Instant Record”
  • TV Guide – RECORD NOW, as well as all future recording options
  • Web Guide Plugin -  Record and Queue Recordings

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Summing Up the Performance Results above:

Impressive numbers…:

Pretty Impressive: Those that have become Media Portal loyalists and those transitioning from some of the lesser “$ ticket required products” are seeing Media Portal evolve at an amazingly fast pace.  Just a little more than a few months or so ago Media Portals multi-tuner features were about as minimal as MCE.  In just a short period of time multi-tuner feature, performance, and reliability are among the most robust of any application on the market.

What the numbers looked like: The pictures tell a thousand words.  Ultimately CPU upon “settling”, meaning post/pre recording work has settled with I/O and the application load on the box was nothing more than Media Portal – CPU ranges from 25/30% to typically no greater than aprox. 50-55%.  These are very comfortable numbers for this system configuration and we were extremely pleased.  Anytime that LiveTV is not present the CPU load will decrease as the video is not being drawn to the screen.  The Media Portal team works very hard to observe other solutions on the market to be sure we not only meet, but exceed the performance and features that users demand.

What the pictures above illustrate: Ultimately what you see above is the result of loading 6 High Quality (8Mb/12Mb VBR) recordings in process, and the 7th tuner being used for LiveTV.  The CPU gauge is there for all to see – and all screen shots were done real-time. 

The 24 hour test: We are very pleased to let everyone know that a 24 hour test of this identical process was sustained and managed.  “Meaning” – Media Portal was loaded with every tuner recording, used like it is intended – pause/shift/ffwd/rewd – and recordings deleted.  Not that   we are still not suspect to occasional crashes during the developmental process (but this test PROUDLY sustained for the entire 24 hours)……  A major hat is off to the incredible Media Portal development team for the increased stability, performance, usability, and reliability.

Style AND Substance:

MP Skin Flexibility: The other piece you are noticing is the absolutely stunning and flexible skinning architecture.  It was only appropriate for our users (old and new) to see how attractive and functional the skinning of Media Portal is  among other applications on the market.  The creative ability to architect to your tastes are endless.

Media Portal GROWS AROUND YOU - Not Locked into an Interface or OSD: With so many applications, what you see is what you get, and also what you may be stuck with until another major release or realization that a fresh coat of paint may be handy every 3 years or so.  Sometimes this is as painful as watching the current paint dry.  With Media Portal the skinning architecture gives you, and the development community, the keys to the kingdom with the MP User Interface, the OSD architecture, and plugins galore.  Our community is loaded with creative talent, artistic strength,  and programming expertise beyond limits – all for use for  your tastes.

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Links:

Download review in PDF format:

Join the Wave, the Wave of those that are leaving their HTPC/PVR limits behind and “Open” to the power and excitement that is called…

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About The Project

The vision of the MediaPortal project is to create a free open source media centre application, which supports all advanced media centre functions, and is accessible to all Windows users.

In reaching this goal we are working every day to make sure our software is one of the best.

         

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