Battle of the Media Center Movie Managers
Movies are the pride of many a home theater PC user. While your friends may have a wall of movies, nobody can argue with the convenience of locally (or network) stored movies, being able to view information, filter and display them all within Media Center, and play them from a single remote without ever having to leave the sofa.
It's a good time for movie fans who utilize Media Center, as we have a number of competing developers who are vying for your usage of their applications. But which application is right for you? If you have been using a particular application for a while, is it worth jumping ship to the newest/latest fad program? Will this app be around for a long time or will it disappear?
For this article, I'm going to pit every Movie Manager for Media Center I can find against each other and see who (if any) wins it all. My guess before beginning was that there would not be a sole winner--instead I anticipate each application doing a few things better than competitors, and that for users the answer would be based on the particular feature they see the greatest.
A Look at the Competitors
- Arguably the most popular Media Center 3rd party plugin ever, MyMovies has continued to evolve along with Media Center. Having started back in the XP Media Center days, it continues to evolve and now has created an extensive server-client model and incorporated many new features, even integration with Windows Home Server
- Media Browser
- No application has grown in popularity faster than Media Browser (formerly Video Library), which quickly incorporated requests from users thanks to the participation and input from many developers to its open source code. It's also recently been a topic of controversy as the developer Sam Saffron announced his plans to charge for future versions.
- Collectorz.com Movie Collector
- Collectorz.com is a retail product with an extensive attention to details. It has been around a fair amount of time, and their track record for releases is very impressive.
- Salami Movie Organizer
- Salami was designed specifically as a need product when Media Browser was released--to be THE database manager for the frontend. It has grown to be its own standalone database manager that can work with any frontend.
- Short for Yet Another Media Meta Manager, YAMMM was designed by Mikinho for the specific need of managing movie information without any user interaction. It was designed to be run headless and leverage the information available from TheMovieDB.
- Another new player in the game, manager only. Basically was designed to make life with Media Browser that much easier. As far as I can tell, has been available since April, but still holding onto that "Beta" tag.
Meta Browser- B
The database/collection manager within Meta Browser relies on either data and content you have already collected or 100% off of TheMovieDB.org. The latter is great for those of you with existing movie collections who are looking to migrate to a new UI. In my instance, I had a large amount of movies which had cover art, but no backdrop. After a simple movie lookup within the app--which was both fast and accurate--I was easily able to browse and add some gorgeous background artwork to my collection. The app is however in beta, and I did experience occasional crashes (turned out to be a permissions issue on my end). Another disadvantage to the use of theMovieDB.org, is it simply isn't as comprehensive as something like MyMovies or IMDB.com...but this will change in time, as more people contribute through using it.
Cost and Longevity
- MyMovies - Total Score = 13
- Collectorz Movie Collector & Media Browser= 10
- Salami/Meta Browser = 8
- YAMMM = 6
That being said, Media Browser's user interface is miles ahead of it, and the leader in the pack. It's always difficult to manage between form and function, and unfortunately none of the apps were tops in all the categories. If Media Browser's UI has you sold, then you would be best served going with smaller database packages such as YAMMM, Meta Browser and Salami along with it, rather than the rather bulky (85MB Installer) for MyMovies.