If you have been following some of my How Tos in the past few weeks you probably saw me talking about different solutions for setting up a Media Center for your home using Windows Media Center, XBMC Kodi and a variety of different hardware devices.
I wanted to go over some of the problems that I have been confronted with so none of you spend vast amounts of hours to only find the same problems in your setups.
The first thing you should understand is Microsoft has pretty much abandoned Windows Media Center and their development solutions for third parties including their SDK software development kits are now really out dated and lacking any real function.
I have been writing code for a couple decades now on top of everything else I do to make cash money and the fact that I installed the latest library just a few minutes ago which installed some Media Center Extra Samples all of which Failed to work correctly even with Windows 7 which is now pretty old I found to be really sad.
This pretty much confirms that the problem I have been having trying to find any Windows Media Center Addons that worked was due to Microsoft and the Support Network they have developed for the DEVELOPERS… Developers in the 90’s and early 2000’s were what pushed Microsoft into its domination of the desktop and its ease of use is why so many people turn to it.
Lets get this straight though Linux, BSD or any flavor of it including Apple’s OS which is basically a pretty version of BSD is a billion times worse than Microsoft.
Lets face it the whole industry seemed to just fail somewhere around the year 2005 and that is just unacceptable. Linux is still a BITCH to setup for anyone other than a teenager or someone in their early 20’s with nothing to do but stay up for three days straight only to realize what they have completed comes no where near what a windows desktop can offer. Their only claim to fame is serving webpages and this is because the OS can be stripped down and Daemon / Server Software has always been first developed on this or the BSD platform then migrated to Windows Servers which suck too.
So what has the world been left with? I don’t know but it seems for 10 to 15 years there has been a problem with the next generation of kids taking over.. this might be because the ones who put computing in our hands from 1994 to 2004 never decided to GROW UP and have kids .. they all ended up trashing cities and promoting legalization of weed..
Do I seem a bit ticked off?
Well I deserve to be because all of the development that pushed computing early on has gone to trash and now any inroads in development are crappy games for android. WHO DOES THAT HELP….
So after that huge rant about the state of computing and the fact too many people have grown up to be adult babies rather than helping the next generation take the next quantum leap…
I have to say that If you are trying to setup a home media center that can feed your televisions with live tv, online streaming broadcasts both recorded and live and if you want to cut the cord at least for your television then you are in deep trouble.
The problems that I have been running into is that features are hard to come by and when you find them they are only offered in a tight set of situations.
Hulu is screwing everyone
For instance you can stream video from Hulu for free from your browser but any other device requires that you sign up for their paid service.
If you want to stream free hulu on your phone or android set top box or from Windows Media Center or XBMC / Kodi or any other solution you need to pay $10 a month which really sucks because 90% of their content is stale.
Now sure you can pay but the thing is most people are turning off their Cable TV or Dish subscriptions because they can’t afford them or they feel they are way out of line to charge $80 a month for basic digital not even HD and realizing they only watch 10 channels. Not to mention if you want a handful of Sports or Movie Channels you are doubling your cost.
LiveStream is no better than Hulu
If you thought you could watch all of the free news streams on your television on LiveStream just forget it. No device offers that ability and you can’t add it with a plugin.
The one great thing about LiveStream is they have about 1000 TV stations across the USA that stream their local news. So if you love news you could watch the East Coast from 4am until 11pm and then watch news on the west coast until 2 or 3 am all live..
By following the sun and the day you move across the USA hitting different streams as the ones in your timezone pause for standard broadcasting.
So from 4am to 9am you watch the East Coast Morning News then from 9am you watch Central Mountain and West Coast news until the lunch news comes on in the East .. watch that for a half hour or hour and start your travels again out west until 4pm eastern time when the early news comes on again and then watch eastern news from 4pm to 7pm then follow that back out to the west coast until 10 pm eastern news starts and at 11:30 when eastern news is over follow back out to the west coast until their 11:30 goes off at 2:30am eastern time…
If thats not enough live news for you then you could watch the recorded streams on FoxNews and CNN to fill the rest of the time.. .. you don’t even need any other broadcasts but if you had free hulu you could watch some recorded shows from last week.
All of that would really fill your day completely in addition to any shows you might find from other sources. If you had a few hours you could watch something live or recorded and not need to design your own storage or server systems…
But Life is just not that simple
Ok so to conclude it seems that different online providers have blocked their free content from your television. There are quite a few providers that will let you in but you can expect to pay for it.
The work around for this is to setup your own Media Center and record Live TV from over the air sources and then replay it later in the day.
So if you want to watch news at night when you get home you should record the morning and lunch news and play it during the evening.
If you want something better than you can find over the air such as a special movie you can subscribe to a service like Amazon Prime which provides you with free shipping from their store but you better buy enough stuff to cover the cost of shipping and it should be something that you need immediately and can’t wait 5 to 9 days for the regular amazon free shipping that doesn’t require a subscription.
XBMC or Kodi is really only for Media Playback
If you are thinking that Kodi or what it use to be called XBMC is a great solution well maybe it is but only if you are using it for content that has been previously recorded.
Where Microsoft Media Center lacks XBMC can take up the slack by giving you a decent interface to watch prerecorded shows.
It also has some very limited ability to stream content and I have been working on a online Radio Streaming tool that will get you about 700 radio stations in the USA to listen to. This can be a added function but honestly your TV is for Video not Radio.
Other than that there are some very buggy solutions to join Media Center and XBMC along with different PVR solutions and even the ability to see Live Video captured from a TV Card.. I strongly suggest you ignore all of that.
If the plugin isn’t pre-installed and if it can not be configured in under an hour including setting up all supporting parts .. it is not worth that much of your life.. heh
Some things are in huge transition with Kodi / XBMC and you will find that the developers are just not there the way they were early on. But this is the same problem with Microsoft Media Center.
You would think maybe with tens of thousands of employees that microsoft would find some way to support this package which can really be of benefit to tens of millions of people.
If you can take an old desktop and throw a couple TV cards and drives in it and have it record and stream both recorded and live tv to maybe 5 televisions in a home with a big family and ones in the kitchen, living room and maybe a tablet in the kids room…
You know thats what we are looking for but really everything is not as simple as it seems.
YES if you love Amazon Prime if you are willing to pay for Netfilx and Hulu Plus you can be out of the box in just a few hours by throwing some chromecast or other streamers right on your tv.
However if you feel that you shouldn’t have to pay tons of money for crap.. then your life just got a little more difficult.
In the coming weeks I will be finalizing a solution for my home. It should allow me to record and watch over the air broadcasts on every television and access some internet content.
But this solution will not be everything that everyone cheers about when they say its so easy.
Again I am not someone who is afraid of computers and I find this difficult to accomplish .. yes I could fork out $35 a tv for Chromecasts and be locked into a bunch of paid services .. but that is not why I started this trip.. my eventual path will hopefully lead to a fully rounded television offering without the need for subscriptions other than a broadband line and one time purchase of an antenna and hardware.
I hope you continue with me on this trip ..
I am going to be honest with all of you about what I find and what you will confront.