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Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Windows Media Center Movie Browser

I have read about this Media Center feature before, but as its a US only feature and I'm based in the UK, I've never fully checked it out. However I saw on TGB that there is a registry key you can change to enabled this feature is you are outside of the US. I think I will give this a go and report back on how I get on?

The below is taken from Nick White's blog.

Have you ever been in the mood to watch a movie but you don't have a particular one in mind -- and you really don't want to have to go through all the information in the guides to find one that appeals to you? Movie Browser allows you to see a list of movies that are either playing currently or those that will be starting in the near future. While using Movie Browser, you can specify the type of movie you're looking for and search using any of several criteria.

Assuming that you have the correct hardware installed to run Media Center, using the Movie Browser is simple. Open Media Center, select "TV & Movies" and navigate to "Search." You can search by any of the following:

  • Title
  • Keyword
  • Categories
  • Movie Actor
  • Movie Director

If you're connected to the internet, once you select the search criteria you'll also see the cover art from the DVD (in the US). You can even view metadata that may include things like reviews, ratings and cast.

As an example, I did a search for movie actor Brad Pitt. The resulting list showed 44 movies:

Movie Browser 1

Clicking on any one of them gives the option to:

  • Record it when it airs
  • Read the Plot
  • See the Cast Info
  • Read Reviews
  • Look for Similar Movies

My favorite feature on Media Center in Windows Vista is the ability to find a movie and set it to be recorded when it's next scheduled to be shown on TV, even if it isn't currently listed in the guide. Once you select the movie, Media Center will automatically record it for you the next time it’s playing on TV. Although this capability isn't new to Windows Vista, it's still something that isn't known by a lot of Windows Vista users.

In the example above, you'll see that Ocean's Thirteen is not scheduled to air within the timeframe indicated in the guide. But, that doesn't mean that you'll need to continue checking continuously to see when it's going to air. Once I chose Ocean's Thirteen from the menu, the option changed from "Record" to "Record in the Future."

Movie Browser 2

Once I selected "Record in Future," the movie was set to record when it plays on television.

Movie Browser 3

And helpfully, whenever Media Center is opened, you'll see the red "Record" dot to remind you that you have a pending recording session scheduled.

Update: I tried this on my own system and it works to a point, it's actually a great way of seeing what movies are on now and next in Media Center. The problem however is that the covert art images for the movies are missing and not loaded, this is a bug apparently according to this thread here.

This is a bit of a shame as it detracts from the value of the Movie Browser feature.

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