Life With a Plugin, Episode 3: MCE Browser
Episodes 1 & 2 dealt with two of the most well known plugins for MCE, MyMovies and DVRMS-Toolbox . So I decided to venture out a bit to one of the more requested plugins which few people know about: MCE Browser.
MCE Browser is designed by fellow Media Center MVP, Anthony Park, and is compatible with both Media Center 2005 as well as Vista. The objective is as simple as it sounds--it allows you to browse the internet via the 10' Media Center interface using your remote to control. Using Internet Explorer as its platform, you can click and use your existing links from there (Firefox users, make sure you copy your bookmarks over first!).
In addition to your standard browsing features, there's also an easy way to zoom in & out, which is helpful depending on the size of the website & your TV screen. As it uses the IE 7.0 browser platform, anything that would work there, should work the same via MCE Browser.
|Your Favorites||Manually Entering a URL
Above & Beyond
There is not much extra with the application, which could explain it's small installation size. That being said, MCE Browser makes it pretty easy to browse to new webpages, allowing typing URL's via either the remote or a keyboard if you have one handy. It uses the same lettering that Media Center uses, so if you want to type the letter B, you would press the number "2" two times.
The main limitations for MCE Browser really lie in the fault of websites in general, in that they are just not designed to be used with just a remote. Getting around some sites with a healthy amount of links or forums is not the easiest nor efficient task in the world. Again, no fault of MCE Browser, but just of the way things work in general.
Also, this is based on the former Media Center platform, so it's not exactly the most attractive plugin in the world. Similiar to MyMovies, it has not been ported over into the sexy, sleek MCML (Media Center Multimedia Layer) and to be honest, I'm not sure it's ever going to be.
|Viewing the greatest website ever :-)
Grade: Once A Month
This grade will really vary from person to person, as I feel that web browsing via both the 10' Media Center UI, as well as just using your remote, is a very niche audience. The majority of users, like myself, will either use a keyboard/mouse with any browser outside of MCE, or use a laptop or other system to browse. However, I've seen this request posted on forums many, many...many times, so clearly the demand is there. So, if you are one of those individuals, then I think you will be more than happy with this application...especially given that there are currently NO Alternatives for Media Center.
Creator: Anthony Park