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Messages - jemenake

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Feature requests & roadmap / Re: First impressions and suggestions for 710
« on: February 29, 2008, 11:38:31 pm »
Linux MCE was designed as a "whole house" solution.  If you're looking only for a media player solution, take a look at Mythbuntu.
I tried MythBuntu and MythDora. However, they're centered around MythTV which, if anything, is the last thing I want from my HTPC. My HDTiVo's fit the bill for that perfectly. Actually, GeeXBox comes pretty close to what I'm after (as far as it being just about playing media) but I don't think it's got a spiffy gryo-remote interface and also I don't think it does 1080i/p or play blu-ray.

If it wasn't that jemenake said that they may want to venture into other areas at a later date, I would have suggested a simple appliance-type box, like the Buffalo LinkTheater I (used to) use.
I have a LinkTheater, too. The problems with it are: 1 - No DVI/HDMI out, 2 - No internal hard drive for ripping DVD's, 3 - No upgrade option to blu-ray, 4 - No gyro mouse

Now, I hear what you're saying about MCE being a sledgehammer. In fact, I think, in my original post, I stated that I was awestruck with how much functionality it has.  But the message I guess I'm hearing is "If you don't want to do all of the things that MCE can do, then go use something else.". And I guess I *would*, except for the fact that MCE claims to do the few things that I *do* want better than the other solutions (ie, gyro remote, 1080i, alpha-blending of menus on nVidia hardware). So, it would really be the nicest solution if I could just get MCE to pretend that it doesn't do all of those other cool things that it can do.

But, on a slightly more-general point, keep in mind that the title of my post started off with "first impressions". I'm telling/reminding you what it's like to go through the setup of MCE for the first time. You can choose to give those comments careful consideration, or you can just discount them as the whinings of a noob. It all depends upon whether you want MCE to grow its user-base or if you want it to remain the domain of the uber-techie folk. Now, I might stick it out and get MCE to do just what I want... or I might decide to just go with GeeXBox or something. But, if I stick it out (and you can decide for yourself whether or not it's unfortunate that someone has to resolve to "stick it out" in order to use your product), then visitors will see my HTPC and think it's really cool and they'll ask where I got it and I'll tell them that it's LinuxMCE but that I wouldn't recommend that they try it, because it's not for the marginally-technical nor the faint-of-heart. Or... I *won't* stick it out and I'll go with something else and, if someone asks me for my opinion on MCE, I'll tell them that, even for me (a linux sysadmin for 15 years), it's more hassle than it's worth.

Or, I guess the third option is that I'll decide to stick it out and, over the years, I'll become an expert at tweaking my MCE box and I, too, will forget what it was like to try installing MCE for the first time.... and someone will post that the install/config process could be made a little more intuitive and I might be the first to tell him to get lost and go use something else. But I'm not there, yet.... so I'm just letting you know, from the perspective of a long-time veteran of linux and of various networked media players (like the KiSS, the Buffalo, and the Gateway) and video transcoding and home-automation, what my initial reactions were when setting up MCE for the first time. What you do with that information is up to you.

Feature requests & roadmap / First impressions and suggestions for 710
« on: February 28, 2008, 11:49:41 pm »
So, I took my first crack at setting up MCE 710 a couple of weeks ago, and I've got a few thoughts.

First, I humbly suggest that the MCE installer query the user about what features they want to use at the beginning of the install process. Personally, I want my HTPC to be a media player. I want to be able to put in an optical disc or flash drive or memory card or go to a shared folder and play just about anything found there. Additionally, it would be great if I could rip DVD's to the hard drive. I don't need TV tuning. I don't need home automation, etc.

Now, the fact that MCE even *has* all of this stuff is just mind-boggling. I'm in awe... really. And... there may come a time in the future where I want to try the home automation stuff, but not just yet. Nevertheless, the MCE installer asked me a bunch of questions about the layout of my house, etc, which it really didn't need. And, even after installation, there were a bunch of options on the screen that weren't set up (like "Live TV", which, when selected, merely gave me a strange looking screen saying either "No Signal" or "Not Configured" or something like that).

What would go a long way toward making MCE easier to setup would be a screen where you can select the fundamental roles you want from MCE: Media playing? TV tuning? Home automation? Web browsing? Multi-room viewing? And then, MCE could just walk me through setting up those features *and* would only show the buttons pertaining to those roles on the main screen. Of course, at any time, the user would be able to return to this "role selector" and select/deselect items. If they selected anything that wasn't configured yet, then they'd be walked through the configuration for it at that time.

Overall, it appears that MCE allows me to select things that aren't configured (like "Live TV") and, instead of alerting me that it's unconfigured and inviting me to configure it, it just dumps me to some useless screen.... which isn't any fun.

The demo movie for MCE asserts that I can plug in an infrared receiver and MCE will offer to configure it. However, my HTPC case has one built-in and was already plugged into the USB header on the motherboard when MCE was installed. So, I'm guessing that MCE knows about it, but I'm not sure where to go to configure it. I guess what I'm aiming at with this comment is that things need to be made more intuitive. I'm used to my TiVo, where it's pretty easy to figure out where to go to watch/record/adjust something. Mind you, MCE is not completely devoid of intuitive advances; the gyro remote navigation (although I haven't tried it) looks fantastic, and I can't wait to get either a gyro mouse or a Fiire remote. Now, I just wish the on-screen menus were simpler.

That's all I can really think of for the moment. But I'm wondering if these sentiments are echoed by other members here....

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