When I was doing some research on HTPC software, I was in need of an extensible front end. The Microsoft Media Center OS was out of the question but I did like the look and feel of it. One of the recommendations I read led me to myHTPC
. It was a free application that allowed you to setup menu items for external programs. While it wasn’t simple to setup, it had some great features and many user made plugins that really extended the program. myHTPC
has since gone commercial, changed names, and evolved from where myHTPC
left off. Meedio Essentials
is what it’s called now and we’re going to look at how well it works as an HTPC front end. Meedio Essentials
lets you manage all your multimedia applications with a user friendly interface. Well, you aren’t limited to multimedia applications but that’s what makes Meedio Essentials
so powerful. We’ll get to that in a minute though. If you’ve seen any Windows Media PC with the easy to read display and access to the various applications through a navigational menu system, then you have an idea of what Meedio Essentials
is like. You can easily setup your computer to load up with Meedio Essentials
as the default display and hide your Windows GUI.
First off, installation was a breeze. After you click on the install package and point it to a directory you want to install it to, you are given a menu to select the folders that hold your various multimedia files. Once selected, Meedio Essentials
is ready to use. If you are trying to migrate from the old myHTPC program, Meedio Essentials
will convert your old files to use with the new program.
You are greeted with a very professional looking GUI for controlling your HTPC. The buttons are large with large and easily readable letters. There are some nicely done icons for each menu item that adds a nice look. When you cycle through the menu items, you’ll hear a nice audio cue. Another nice audio cue sounds when you select a menu item. If you don’t like the look and sound of it, you can change it. I’ll detail more about that later in the review. But the display shows up well on a TV, which is key to finding a good front end.
Going through the default modules I was very happy with how the information was displayed. For example, the weather module gives a week’s worth of forecasts in a very easy to read display. The icons specifying the condition are displayed very cleanly. It’s a very handy module that I used every morning to check on the conditions for the day. You can also set a link to a radar picture of your area. A nice update for Meedio
is that you can now use animated radar GIFs.
For playing video, Meedio Essentials
includes an ok media player. If you want to use a third party program for media, that’s no problem as you can configure it to do so. I know a lot of people like to use Zoom Player
so those looking to use Zoom
or something else need not worry. There’s a barebones DVD player included as well that is serviceable if you just want to play movies. Again, you can signify a third party player if you want a more robust DVD program.
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