mControl & INSTEON bundle now available

electron

Administrator
Staff member
SmartHome.com is now offering the Powerlinc v2 in combination with mControl online. It doesn't look like you will save any money while mHome is being offered at the introductory price.

http://www.smarthome.com/1411CU.HTML

I am not sure if anyone else has noticed this, but it looks like mControl does NOT require Windows Media Center!
mControl software requires Windows Media Center Edition 2005 or Windows XP Professional

mControl has been designed for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, however, mControl can also be run on Windows XP Pro and viewed from Internet Explorer 6.0 or greater.
 

The Pod

Active Member
No, mControl the server portion (having the USB interface) can run on a MCE or XP box. (I had tried running the client with the web interface on an XP Pro box and it would not run.) The Client or controlling software needs to run on a MCE box. So my understanding is that you can have one server supporting several MCE boxes. My question still unanswered is could you have multiple configurations per MCE box, so each room could have its own custom menu with only the controls for that room.

I haven't played with it much, most of this is from reading the manual and talking with tech support.

The Pod
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
mControl can also be run on Windows XP Pro and viewed
that statement seems to indicate it can run (server) and viewed (client) on XP Pro, however I think it's just bad wording, I will try to find out.
 

tedsingh

Member
As you might already know, there are two main components for mControl:
a ) mControl Automation Service
b ) mControl User Interface (UI) Client(s)

The mControl Automation Service can run on Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 with .NET Framework v1.1. I've heard that someone got it working on Windows 2000, but I have not confirmed this independently yet.

mControl UI Client(s) can run on the same PC as the mControl Automation Service, or any other PC that has either a browser based on IE v6 or Media Center interface. In addition, clients can also operated flawlessly via Windows MCE Extenders (e.g., Xbox extender). You can currently have 5 clients talking to the Automation Service concurrently.

mControl does not specifically need Windows Media Center, but the interface is designed to support operation using a remote control, in addition to the traditional mouse/keyboard.

Ted
 

tedsingh

Member
I have been able to confirm that mControl v1 (Home Edition) will also run on Windows 2000 with .NET Framework v1.1

Ted
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
I'm totally lost! I see a lot of references to Windows MCE but I can't get a handle on exactly what it is? I spent some time on the Windows MCE site where it talks about Windows Media Player 10 (which I have anyway from Windows Update) and Windows Moviemaker 2.1 (same story there) but no real technical differences were called out. The site spends more time talking about Media Center PCs which don't look to be anything different than what Sony has been doing for years with its "Digital Studio" line of boxess so I'm stumped. What exactly does Windows MCE give you that isn't already included in the Windows Update download or else done much better through third party apps?
 

The Pod

Active Member
upstatemike said:
I'm totally lost! I see a lot of references to Windows MCE but I can't get a handle on exactly what it is? I spent some time on the Windows MCE site where it talks about Windows Media Player 10 (which I have anyway from Windows Update) and Windows Moviemaker 2.1 (same story there) but no real technical differences were called out. The site spends more time talking about Media Center PCs which don't look to be anything different than what Sony has been doing for years with its "Digital Studio" line of boxess so I'm stumped. What exactly does Windows MCE give you that isn't already included in the Windows Update download or else done much better through third party apps?
MCE is Media Center Edition. It is a stripped down version of Windows XP Pro with Microsoft Media Center software. The Media Center software is designed to be shown/displayed on your TV and operated with a remote control. It gives you access to all your media (acting as TV tuner, Tivo, VCR, DVD, music, digital images, etc.) in one place with one remote.

The Pod
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition turns your PC into a DVR. It's based on XP PRO (it's really just an application sitting on top of the OS, but you can't download it seperately), has a really nice looking interface, supports more than 1 regular TV tuner and OTA HDTV cards, you can use the Xbox/Extenders to share your recordings, media, etc. in other rooms without having to deploy another PC, and much more. Check this out:

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mediace...tion/top10.mspx

You'll have to stop by at my house someday, I have 2 of these machines, and I couldn't imagine using anything else.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
I have 2 of these machines, and I couldn't imagine using anything else.

I feel the same way about my ReplayTV DVRs... Mainly because of the automatic commercial skip, the nice way they integrate Cable and Satellite channels, and the ability to stream across my LAN to watch recorded shows in other rooms. I guess I'll have to do more research to understand what a PC based system could do for me.

My big concern would be having a PC in my media room. I know some people have posted that they can't stand anything with a bright display anywhere within their media viewing area but my big hot button is noise. I'm enough of a fanatic about PC fan noise that I punched a hole in the wall of my home office for the monitor and keyboard wires so I could put my CPU outside of my workspace. Do you keep your Windows MCE machines in the same room as your A/V equipment or are they connected remotely?
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
One of them is in my living room, the other is in my bedroom. But these are not generic cases, I use HTPC cases, 1 SilverStone and 1 Antec Overture. They are pretty quiet except for now, since I have a bad chipset fan in both machines (this all started with these thunderstorms).
 

The Pod

Active Member
upstatemike said:
My big concern would be having a PC in my media room. I know some people have posted that they can't stand anything with a bright display anywhere within their media viewing area but my big hot button is noise. I'm enough of a fanatic about PC fan noise that I punched a hole in the wall of my home office for the monitor and keyboard wires so I could put my CPU outside of my workspace. Do you keep your Windows MCE machines in the same room as your A/V equipment or are they connected remotely?
As for bright display, I use the TV itself as the display for the pc. I have it boot up and launch Media Center right away because I built this setup as a dedicated MCE machine. No keyboard or mouse, only the remote control is available.

I have it in a quiet case and don't hear it at all. It was tucked away behind the tv until I decided to get rid of my DVD player and added a DVD ROM drive to the MCE pc, I had to move it to the front where you could access the drive. Other than that I've been very pleased with it overall. So far I've gotten rid of my VCR and DVD player and the wife was able to record a show without asking me how to do it. Very simple menu structure to navigate through. The next step will be to add the ATI HDTV capture card and an antenna to capture all the local HDTV channels.

The Pod
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
The Pod-

It sounds like you are moving towards a PC-centric media environment and I think maybe I'm too old to embrace that idea. I have always looked at PCs as sort of the "Duct Tape" of the electronics world. That is, they are great for patching just about anything together to get it to work but never appropriate as a long-term or permanent solution for anything.

This is probably an irrational and incorrect view to have but it is based some "old guy" ideas that I just can't shake:

* I have a lot of Windows PCs and they require more maintenance time than I am willing to spend on them. Between service updates, software updates, virus scans, spyware, etc. etc. I just don't want to spend my time that way. For media applications or core HA stuff, I want the reliability of "flip the switch and go".

* I still have a hard time believing that audio can pass through a cheap PC sound card and still be high fidelity. I don't mind ripping CDs on a PC because that is pure data manipulation but for converting records or other analog sources to CD I use a dedicated Hi-Fi CD burner. (Where you are reducing your number of A/V boxes I seem to be always increasing mine).

* And then there is the "noise" question. You say your PC is in a "quiet case" but I am skeptical, only because I have never encountered a PC that was quiet enough to suit me.

On the other hand, I have a new PC coming in this weekend that supposedly has DVR abilities built-in. (DVR software, lots of A/V connections, hand-held remote). I'll play around with it and see if I can get over some of my PC prejudices. If I can't then I guess I'll have to start looking for an "old folks" technology forum!
 
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