Netremote, main lobby, myHTPC


Senior Member
I have tried all three and dont really like them. Call me stupic or lazy but those programs all seem so complicated to use. I want something simple. I want to be able to drop my media into a folder and have the program do the rest without any intereaction from me. I want it to go out and find the alumn art and information about the media and display it in a nice front end. I dont want to have to setup categories and crap i think it should do that on its own. I just want a nice looking front end that will allow me to sit in the other room and use my pc remote to view media from my pc on my projection screen. i have all the hardware setup now i just need the software to organize it.

Maybe someone can do a howto on setting up some of these programs. I like the look of main lobby and am willing to pay the price for it if i could only figure out how to use it. Ill be the first to admit that i dont like spending ours reading manuals and readme files just to use a software application. I want to be able to start having fun right out of the box.

I would like a program that can tie into homeseer also so i can control my devices with onscreen menus.

Can someone please simplify this stuff for me.
Over the past few weeks, I have looked at x-lobby, Main Lobby, MS Media Center, and a few others.

MS Media Center by far was the easiest and quickest to setup and start using.
In the setup you enter the pathway to your mp3's and your pictures and it just works. The biggest problem with MS Media Center, for those who like to customize and make changes, was the lack of customization.

x-Lobby had a similiar setup but didn't look as nice as Media Center, IMO. There are other skins available but no integration to HomeSeer.

I ended up deciding on Main Lobby due to the fact that I am wanting to start learning Flash and there is already a plugin to allow it to communicate with HS.

Squintz, It sounds like the best for you would be MS Media Center 2005.
Can i get a upgrade of MCE for my current version of windows... if so where do i go to get it. I though it was for manufacture bought pc's only and mine is a home built PC
Squintz, Mainlobby and I also believe NetRemote are complicated because they let you do things the way YOU want them to, and not the way Bill wants you to.

By adding in user configurable (to a high level, not just colors or skins) that complexity introduces itself. Homeseer is no different.

For the basic off the shelf uses, MainLobby / DVDLobby / MusicLobby can be setup in an hour. If you need some help via IM, more than happy to give a hand.

For me, I want to create my own scenes that mix / match HS / media / news / lighting / security / pictures / what ever else on any scene with any background, with a large assortment of buttons and navigation. That's why I needed something as powerful as MainLobby. I suspect NetRemote / HSGirder plugin work similar, but I haven't dove into that solution yet.
I went with MS Media Center for this reason, turn it on and use it.

Not as pretty as some of the others, but it works!

I can watch Media Center programs on my other networked machines as well.

Media Center runs on its own dedicated box, I haven't seen the need to integrate with HS yet.

Have to have something the techno challenged wife can use.
In my opinion, Main Lobby Suite provides one of the easier solutions to obtain a fairly easily customized interface for a variety of HA/Security/Theater applications. Netremote is also a solution, but you had better be ready to spend MAJOR hours figuring out how to get it to work. Sure it is cheaper (a LOT cheaper), but it does not have the "out of the box" easy to set up functionality that Main Lobby offers.

Of course Main Lobby suite is not without its headaches and setup "features" (but here again, most products are like this). Main Lobby is sort of like Homeseer in the fact that you can get some fairly basic features working quickly, but it has the ability to do more complex applications (requiring you to put in the time to learn how to do them) as well.

I know a lot of other people have opinions on this matter, but I have played around with a LOT of software applications (except for Windows MCE) in coming up with my decision.

I'm not sure of the direction Main Lobby Suite is taking, which has me very concerned though. To explain further, I was hoping that Cinemar would come up with more HA related suite of icons and applications to compliment the new two way Homeseer functionality offered by Krumpy's MLHSPlugin. Also their "Weblobby" isn't up to the versatility required by even moderate HA systems.

All in all it seems like you have to have two or three applications to give you the complexity (err, lack of it?) and functionality to compliment your systems. For instance I have an Ocelot (required knowing CMax programming), Caddx (requires knowing their DL-900 programming or at least their nomenclature to enter programming steps manually via a keyboard), WebCamXP (requires understanding how to integrate that with Homeseer and their specific setup menus), Homeseer (we are familiar with this), Main Lobby Suite (explained above), various Homeseer Plugins (each with their own level of understanding as to how to set them up), as well as interfacing various hardware such as my MR26a, relay timers, NetCallerID device, etc...

Its not easy, especially if you want all of the above to play nice with each other. That is why we have forums such as this one!

As far as writing How-to's on these applications, you are correct. It would be VERY nice if we had them. Unfortunately, most people that provide these solutions are more concerned about getting them to work technically and not worried about having people understand how to use them. This really blows my mind because they spend major hours making all of this work, only to have this valuable technology not used because of the lack of documentation (Homeseer's WebCam plugin is an EXCELLENT example of this).

I understand it takes a lot of hours to do documentation properly. For instance I spend an average of eight to ten hours in my more complex How-tos which I publish (freely) here. I also helped Krumpy with the MLHSPlugin (Homeseer's Main Lobby plugin) as well. I actually think this is the standard that developers should take BEFORE a product is brought to market! I spoke with Krumpy and he agreed with this opinion, thus a LOT of time was spent on the documentation BEFORE the plugin was released. The result was very few frustrated customers trying to get (a fairly complex) plugin working! Users were actually complimenting Krumpy on how easy it was to get this working because of the completeness of this documentation.
Another option is to avoid the PC altogether for playback and buy a "standalone" device, something like the one discussed here. You may not get all the features you want (and the UIs are usually a bit lacking) but it will save you a lot of setup time.

I use a PC to record video, but it is not used to play it back. I use a networked device for that. For me, it was easier than worrying about getting the PC set up exactly the way I wanted it and allows me to use that time to work on other projects. Since I do not use component video, I can get away with inexpensive ($85) boxes like the Hauppauge MediaMVP that only spit out composite or svideo (and only analog audio, unless you hack it [1]). For component, you need to go with more expensive devices (like the one linked above).

The PC is certainly the most versatile in terms of options and quality. And it may be the only way to play back ripped DVDs without compromises. But, it's also the most complicated to set up and the most time consuming - often requiring plenty of tweaking.

[1] I'm not worried about the quality of the audio, since I use a different approach for music.
While I am on my "high horse" (hehe, refer to my avatar) on documentation I offer the following suggestion for ANY developer.

One approach Krumpy and I did on developing the documentation for his plugin was this. The first time I touched/downloaded/looked at it I was on the phone with him. He explained, in detail, how to setup up and integrate this plugin. All this time I was taking notes and screen shots as well as recognizing pitfalls that a typical user might run into during the install process.

Yes, this took a lot of time, but if you have someone unfamiliar with the product trying to integrate it, and they properly document the steps as well while doing so, the result is a very easy to understand set of instructions. :)

I can not compliment Krumpy enough for taking this approach.
Sow what you are telling me BSR is that you want to call me and help me setup MainLobby over the phone :) That is just so nice of you!

I will be sure to take very good notes as you all help me setup main lobby for what i want to use it for.

First thing is first.

How do i assign Album art to my Videos and Music?

Yes, you indeed read my post incorrectly!

I SAID if you want the increased functionality of how to setup these packages, you need to figure out how to do it!

The album art is actually assigned via JR Rivers Media Center. There is also a size issue related to these pics.

Main Lobby (via Music Lobby) just interfaces with JR Rivers Media Center.

For more information go to the Cinemar Forums.

I don't have the time (nor energy) to do a detailed How-to on setting up Main Lobby Suite right now, but maybe someday as I would really like to do this.

As far as phone support, perhaps someone else here could be up to that challenge. :)