Life With a Plugin, Episode 1: MyMovies
Welcome to the Life With a Plugin series! The purpose of the series will be to give quick reviews of all the numerous Vista Media Center plugins that are out there, and evaluate their usefulness. A lot of plugins are cool but rarely are needed that often, so I’ve decided to evaluate these for you and help in keeping your systems clean with only the necessary. In the process, you may just discover a plugin you weren’t aware of that does JUST what you were looking for.
The format of the reviews will be quick & easy. I’ll offer a high level information view of the plugin, explaining what it does & who’s behind it. After that will be the "Above & Beyond" section, where I’ll evaluate the application’s performance, and see how well it does at surpassing the minimum requirements for a task. "Falling Short" will evaluate where is the application lacking. And finally, I’ll give the plugin a grade:
- Approved for Everyday Use – If an application is so fantastic & useful, that one could easily use it everyday, and helps make MCE a better all-around experience for your family
- Once a Month is Plenty – If an application is cool & well designed, but really not something you would need to use more than once in a while
- Once a Year – This rating is for apps that are decent, but fall short in a number of steps, but still are decent enough to recommend at least an installation to try it out.
- Never, Ever, Ever – For applications that are just bad, clunky or all-around useless. Keep these guys off your system!!
I’m starting the series with arguably the most used and downloaded plugin in the history of Media Center–MyMovies. In case you have been living in a shell or are new to the HTPC world, MyMovies is a free plugin designed to help you manage and showoff your movie collection, be it a DVD or High Definition disk, stored on your hard drive, or virtually any movie file format.
Movies can be displayed in a number of different ways, via title or the DVD cover-art. The best thing about MyMovies is the amazing forum of supporters behind it. Although there are backup options to download movie information, the default–and usually the most complete–method of obtaining the info is to use the User Managed database. Users actually input new or old DVDs not in the database and update it with both information as well as cover art! It’s not an easy job, but the guys that love it see it as a way to give back to the developer as well as the community.
|MCE Main Menu Strip||View Entire Collection via DVD Cover Art|
Above & Beyond
MyMovies has always been a fantastic application which continued to evolve. In their latest version, they’ve answered the cries of multi-zone users, now offering MyMovies in a Server & Client version, making it even easier to configure your setup for multiple zones (other rooms with MCE PC’s or Extenders). This was critical for me, as I used one machine to rip & store my movies, but my main Media Center PC is a completely different PC.
In addition to that, MyMovies includes a feature to automatically add movies to your library. So if you just ripped a movie, you don’t have to manually enter that movie’s data. Assuming it can find the title, it monitors the folders you specify & adds them for you.
Add to that DVD Changer & High Definition support (via a plugin with Cyberlink’s PowerDVD Ultra), and you start to wonder why anyone would use MCE’s built-in DVD Library anymore. And that’s the key to why MyMovies is such a phenomenal plugin–it does its’ job perfectly, and also manages to improve upon Microsoft designed applications as well.
If the screenshots look like you’re in 2005, you’re not dreaming. Although promised in a future version, at least for now, MyMovies is NOT MCML designed, making the interface just a bit clunkier than it could be. Again, the developers are pretty adament that this will be added eventually, and they have continued to innovate, so we’ll be a bit lenient. The conversion to MCML should make it faster, cleaner, more attractive and reliable (current version crashes very occasionally).
Grade: Approved for Everyday Use
If you’re even somewhat a movie fan…or not, and you just can’t remember what that movie "Gladiator" is about, then MyMovies is for you. It’s simple to use, doesn’t get boring, and is an application which is able to be appriciated by geeks and housewives alike!
|Movie information||Movie database management|
Creator: Brian Binnerup