MediaPortal - A kick arse HTPC app! (1 Viewer)


Portal Member
January 16, 2006
Melbourne, Australia
Home Country
About 6 months ago, I first started getting interested in using a HTPC app for watching TV (specifically for timeshifting and programable recording etc functionality). Ive been a long time user of Frodos previously excellent work in Xbox MediaCentre and have always been extremely impressed with the functionality and stability of that particular application. (My XBOX was a media centre 99% of the time, and was only occasionally used for gaming). Unfortunately, the xbox's un-expandability meant I had to look for an alternative.

My search led me initially to MythTV (I live happily in either a Linux or Windows world). I had Mythtv setup on my linux server (with the tuner and the 'backend' portion) and was using the xbmc python scripts available that allow you to use the xbox as a front end to myth. Bingo! Timeshifting Recording and Live TV on the xbox! Unfortunately though, while I had purchased a HD capable DVB card, the xbox simply didnt have the clout required to decode the HD MPEG stream.

That led to an attempt to set up a proper pc front end for Mythtv - an experience in frustration and compromise to say the least! I am a very experience Unix/linux user/admin and work with it everyday as a part of my job, but found setting the myth front end up to do everything one of the most frustrating experiences Ive had in a long time. In short, while the feature list was impressive, the hardware acceleration support (required on the XP2000+ I was using) for MPEG decoding is crap (read flaky and unstable), the configuration of myth is convoluted, and for Movie/MP3/Burner etc support, requires the use of many external apps, configurations and utilities, none of which want to work together in a seamless manner. I spent at least a month of fairly constant work trying to get myth to be stable and functional (and quite honestly Wife friendly) before I gave up and went searching again.

Enter MP. I had actually breifly checked out MP in late 2004 when I just had a crappy BT878 card and couldnt get it working at the time (and wasnt really looking for a windows based Media Centre so I didnt try to hard). I honestly hadnt thought about it again, until I tripped across it again looking for a myth replacment. Was I in for a pleasant surprise.

Two hours to setup a Windows box all patched and updated, half an hour of playing around installing MP and going thorugh the config and I had TV. Another ten minutes and I had my MP3s, movies, TV series etc working. I cant stress enough, the contrast I saw between the MP experience, and that Id had with Mythtv!

I have spent considerable time tweaking for quality and stability since, but with the assistance of the extrememly helpful forum community, I have finally got my stable and functional 'mythical home media convergence app' (that is the claim that mythtv makes ;) ) and it aint myth ;)

To conclude the first part of this post - I cant give a big enough THUMBS UP to Frodo and the rest of the developers and contributors involved with MP. This is an amazing application, that only stands to get better with time. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK GUYS, IT IS APPRECIATED!

The second part of this post I want to list the tips and tweaks I found along my MP journey that helped me get to this point. Im sure someone will find something useful in the future.

My hardware is currently as follows
Asus A7V8X-MX
AMD Athlon XP 2000+
512 MB
200 GB Maxtor PATA
2 x Ultraview (Dvico) DVB-T Plus Tuners
Sb-LIVE S/PDIF sound
Geforce 4 MX440 AGP 8x (Im about to start the search for a DX9 card though I feel ;) )
Zalman cnsp7000B-cu CPU cooler
QPC Qiuet P/S
Crappy standard desktop case at this stage :(

Software setup
MP 0.2 RC2
.Net 2.0 + .Net 1.1 Runtimes
Nvidia PureVideo Codecs for TV/DVD
ffdshow (Dec 21 2005) for Xvid/Divx/MP3
XMLTV with a modified tv_grab_au (a bugger to setup on windows, but reliable and still gets better info than webepg in oz sorry :( )

I played with the MPEG1/2 and Dscalar MPEG decoders that came with MP, but I found both the quality and performance of both barely acceptable (and not taking advantage of the hardware MPEG decoding and deinterlacing support of the card, my CPU just didnt have the grunt for HD...)

I tried the Cyberlink decoders and got a sizeable improvement in quality, but kept getting occasional lockups in MP when changing channels. The same goes for the Zulu HD decoders that come witht he DVB cards Im using - quality was good, but stability wasnt there... Then I came accross the Nvidia Pure video codecs. Once applying the necessary registry settings to configure deinterlacing, VMR9 support, and SPDIF passthrough, I found purevideo to be a handsdown winner. Stable+, BY FAR the best deinterlacing support, with a clear crisp picture even on high motion video like when watching sport. The appropriate registry settings can be found in this forum at One point of note - I had troubles with ripping / tearing /stuttering of the picture in HD channels until I enabled DX exclusive mode in the MP config (general)

I had no end of grief getting the onboard (Soundmax) sound to output AC3 and DTS over SPDIF on both this and another board I tried (A7s8x-mx) and ended up falling back to the trusty sb-live that works a treat. I tried everything - dont bother, the soundmax drivers are junk, and their support is non-existant.

The xmltv grabber (a hangover from my mythtv experience) Im using can be found at Its a perl script, so you need to actually configure a running perl and xmltv environment on your pc which isnt that easy, but worth it still I think. Instructions for doing this with cygwin can be found here -

The powerscheduler plugin works a treat, putting the machine into s4 hibernate when idle in the home screen (I had to check the force shutdown option in the plugin setup to make it work properly though.) Now the machine wakes up 5 minutes before it has to do a recording and then goes back to sleep if not being used.

The ultraview remote just works (tm) if you install the standard app that comes with the card, that contains a R/C app that can be configured to emulate any keypress in multiple seperate profiles. Just configure that with the keys of MP and it works great.

I could go on for ages, but thats the crux of it. Once again, THANKS for a great app devs - keep it up, hopefully one day Ill have the time to contribute more than just a few rather lengthy posts :D

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