Farewell Media Center, Hello Kodi

Farewell WMC, hello Kodi and Mediaportal TV Server.

Out With The Old…

I’ve been a long time supporter of Windows Media Center but it’s always had its quirks and Microsoft announced with Windows 8 that it wouldn’t be developing it further, this is old news.  A shame as I know how much effort went into its development and it was almost a brilliant product.  For live TV it was superb with full HD and MHEG (red button) support along with timeshifting and series link.  Series link is the killer feature for me which non of the open source equivalents have had until now.

WMC was never great at handling libraries of media content or Bluray playback, for that I’ve been running Kodi (formerly XBMC) in parallel for years and a standalone Bluray player.  Kodi has had the ability to act as a PVR for long time but I’d never had any luck getting everything working right.  Where WMC had tuner support built in Kodi relies on a TV backend to handle tuner control with client side plugins to show the EPG and switch video streams which added a complication I couldn’t quite get passed.  Probably a lack of patience on my part if I’m honest but fast forward to today and everything seems to be maturing together, specifically with Kodi 16 RC, Codename Jarvis.  If nothing else I approve of the Iron Man reference!

…In With The New

Jarvis is currently at RC3 and with this update they’ve introduced series link, as this was the only feature I was using WMC for it’s the final nail in the coffin.  I’ve been playing with Kodi as a PVR for a while with two different backends;  ServerWMC and Mediaportal’s TV Server with the TV Server Kodi plugin.  They both worked well but the former has a dependancy on WMC which would prevent updating to Windows 10.  Mediaportal is also still in active development and their TV Server software is very robust.  I’ve used it in the past and it was pretty rock solid, the bit that let it down for me was the Mediaportal interface itself was pretty clunky and even with a lot of tweaking I couldn’t get the experience as intuitive as Kodi’s.

The Solution

As it stands this is the setup I’ve ended up with:

  • Kodi 16 RC3
  • Mediaportal 1.12 TV Server
  • TV Server Kodi Plugin

To install Kodi is simple so I wont cover it here.  For TV Server download Mediaportal and when prompted during setup select the TV Server only option.  You can install the lot if you want to have a look at Mediaportal but it isn’t needed in my scenario.  Finally you’ll need a plugin for TV Server that allows Kodi to connect.  This is as simple as copying the DLL to the plugins folder and restarting the service.  Full instructions that covers all the above can be found here.

Conclusion

Early days yet but so far this combination of software seems to be working a treat.  The big benefit here is that Kodi is under constant development so things should only improve.  Time will tell and I’ll do a review in a month or so after living with it full time.

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