Life With a Plugin, Episode 7: Remote Scheduling
Remote Scheduling allows you to view your TV guide listings & modify your Media Center recordings from anywhere in the world. Currently, there's only two real players in this category. One is Microsoft's Remote Record, and the other (Webguide), well...got bought out by Microsoft. Both are useful in their own way, and I've found a happy medium in using both at the same time.
The first & probably the most well-known plugin for scheduling recordings is Webguide4, a do-it-all plugin that lets you schedule your shows, manage your recordings, and even stream them! I've done a complete review of the application, which hasn't changed much since.
|Main screen interface
||View & Use the Guide listings|
On the other spectrum lies MSN's Remote Record, a much more minimalistic approach to TV Scheduling. While Webguide4 was built from the ground to revolve around Media Center, Remote Record is much more of an app designed around the website. The website that controls it all is http://TV.MSN.com . It's a simple URL to remember, and the interface has improved in time.
That being said, it really is a love or hate relationship with that website. It's very busy, and wastes an awful lot of bandwidth with TV show promotion banners streaming all across it. Once you get to the guide things are nice and clean, but it's not nearly as clean & uncluttered as Webguide. Regarding speed, it depends on your connection - Users with fast internet at home will see a very speedy response with Webguide...but if you're on the slower end of the spectrum, you will appreciate leveraging Microsoft's bandwidth and efficiency.
ABOVE & BEYOND
Webguide easily goes above & beyond. The designer behind it spent years developing and improving it, and did not stop with being the most popular TV scheduling app. He added complete control of your Media Center & recordings, and then even threw in some streaming abilities for good measure.
Remote record does little extra. It's a TV scheduling application, and that's all it does. Nothing more, nothing less. This isn't necessarily a knock on the plugin as it does what it does, well.
Unlike previous versions of Remote Record, the current implementation DOES SUPPORT HD Channels. So if you're used to recording ESPN-HD on channel 724 (as in the Bay Area), then that channel is available to record via Remote Record. Kudos to them for fixing that!
Webguide, in the current condition, is an amazing plugin. The only fault with it, is that it does try to do a lot, which is intimidating to new users. In addition to that, if you don't have access to your firewall/router, then you will not be able to use it from outside your home, like you CAN with Remote Record (That's actually why I use both...Webguide for when I'm on my LAN, and Remote Record when I'm at work).
MSN Remote Record fails in it's lack of integration with Media Center. I think this is due to the fact that it wasn't designed at all by the Media Center team, and it showed in the years it's taken for the plugin to actually become reliable enough to recommend. Initial users were left with a very bad taste in their mouth as the application was very unreliable and would frequently not be able to connect to the servers. Time has improved both the service & the guide speed...but first impressions are hard to forget...and heck, it's still HIDDEN in the website (Sign in > TV Listings > Small box on the right side)
|Guide TV Listings||View Series/Show Information
GRADE: Approved for Everyday Use
Bottom line with both of these applications--If you frequently forget to schedule shows, or people at your work are always telling you of great shows you should be watching...or your significant other forgets that Tom Cruise is on Oprah today--then either of these applications will be required.
As I mentioned earlier, both are Free, so there's really no reason why you can't use both, and I actually recommend it. In case something happens with your internet at home, Remote Record will continue pinging the network until your system comes back online...a valuable tool in the event that you try to connect during a power outage. That way, you don't have to remember to record.
The flexibility of giving you control over your recordings from everywhere makes either MSN Remote Record or Webguide4 easily given the rating of "Approved for Everyday use!"
Creator: Microsoft & Doug Berrett
Price: Free & Free!