TVedia – An amazing networked media frontend!

TVedia is a media center frontend with some extremely interesting networking functionallity and a very nice interface for YouTube, Google Video, Flickr, LastFM and other media related web sites.

I recently gave it a run on my Windows Media Center Edition box. The installation was very easy. The MCE remote worked at once with no configuration.

Excellent media library

You let the software scan your drives for media files and it builds a database that lets you browse your images, videos and music. So far so good. A full screen media browser like all the others out there. And, after my quick test I must say that it is a very good one. The animated user interface is fast and user firendly, but not as smooth and slick as Windows Media Center Edition (MCE). The advantage is the fact that TVedia has modest hardware requirements compared to MCE.

Universal plug and play

But what’s so special about TVedia compared to all the other available options? The network integration. During installation it asked if I wanted access to the media that TVedia found on the other computers on my network. I said Yes, and when installing TVedia on another box on the same network all my media showed up there as well. No questions asked, no configuration. It just worked.

TVedia is a universal plug and play (UPnP) client and server. Meaning that it will communicate with your UPnP enabeled phone or media server. I haven’t tried this yet, so I’ll have to come back to how this works. You can read more here.

Web video in your living room

But the functionallity that impressed me the most is TVedia’s nice integration with sites like YouTube, GoogleVideo and Flickr.

With TVedia these sites are suddenly available from your remote on the big screen in the living room. The experience works very well. You can search for video clips and browse categories. Compared to the YouTube and GoogleVideo plugin for Windows Media Center Edition this experience is way better. Of course, the quality of the videos on these sites doesn’t look very good on your 42 inch LCD, but the playback is done through ffdshow and gives you an experience as good as possible. When trying to predict the future of technology a couple of things are pretty certain. The quality will be better! This is a preview of some of the functionallity that the future of big screen entertainment will give you.

Such a nice interface for these sites can turn out to be very interesting and really emphasize the possibilities of Long Tail Content in your living room. (If you want to know more about the long tail Chris Anderson explains it in The Media Center Show here. Or, of course Wikipedia comes you your rescue with a great article.)

Flickr

For Flickr you can even upload pictures to your account directly from TVedia. You can browse your own sets, your friend’s pictures, search and browse tags.

When running a slide show of photos from Flickr TVedia downloads the largest version available and present them with nice transitions on your TV.

If you add the fact that TVedia plays protected music from both iTunes and MSN Music and has an open interface for plug in development you are close to the perfect media center. And you can’t complain about the price of $35,- either.

So what’s the catch?

Unfortunately, there’s a big one. No TV functionallity yet. You need to run it in cooperation with SnapStream Beyond TV or another proper PVR software. I have years of experience with such solutions. Running one PVR software and another media library software. That is not at all something that I would recommend. The fact that Windows Media Center Edition provides me with both a media library and a proper PVR with an EPG was my main reason to switch to this platform.

The usability, navigation and stability always suffer when running several programs. TVedia version 3.5 had PVR capabilities, so I really hope that 8Dimensions will add a proper PVR with EPG to TVedia version 4 as soon as possible.

But, if you’re in for a tiny bit of tweaking and maintenance, the combination of TVedia and the already mentioned SnapStream Beyond TV will give you a media box with far more functionallity than a plain MCE 2005 box from Microsoft.

So far this is one of the most interesting products I have seen in this space for a long time! The music library, networking and online features are way better than what I am used to in MCE. Please guys, add a proper PVR and you have a winner on your hands.

TVedia – An amazing networked media frontend!

14 thoughts on “TVedia – An amazing networked media frontend!

  1. J. Thornes says:

    Looks interesting. I’m still a Meedio/BeyondTV user, because I really do love BeyondTV, and now that I have Meedio configured it runs beautifully. I don’t feel the need to try to switch to MCE quite yet.

    However, unlike you, I’d rather that companies concentrate on either PVR or Frontend, since I’ve yet to see one where they really get it right. BeyondTV is getting close, but it’s not a totally complete piece of work. Meedio worked good, but went downhill a bit once they started working on MeedioTV.

    I always feel that if the frontend is well done enough, it can easily handle switching to BeyondTV (or another PVR) without any hassle. I’ll have to give TVedia a try.

  2. I may have to check it out. I love BTV, so that wouldn’t be an issue. What excites me is that it will play itunes protected music. How quick is the interfacing with itunes?

    I’ve been using Beyond Media for quite awhile after switching from Meedio a few months back, but it’s music database sucks and there is very little you can do in the way of changing menus around, etc…

  3. A new front end?…

    No, not for my wife, can’t afford that right now. For the PVR. Apparently TVedia supports all of the cool stuff that I have been doing, plus will play iTunes protected music. I will have to check it out……

  4. […] HTPC enthusiast Eirik Solheim spent some time with TVedia and came away very impressed, despite the software’s lack of DVR functionality. However… What immediately caught my eye was the Amazon affiliate advertising built into the interface (in addition to the $35 software fee). I exchanged a few emails with Eirik who informed me the “feature” is optional and sent along a screenshot showing how users can toggle the ads. It’s an interesting strategy and well executed given TVedia’s spartan interface and disable options. Eirik writes: TVedia is a media center frontend with some extremely interesting networking functionality and a very nice interface for YouTube, Google Video, Flickr, LastFM and other media related web sites. I recently gave it a run on my Windows Media Center Edition box. So far this is one of the most interesting products I have seen in this space for a long time! The music library, networking and online features are way better than what I am used to in MCE. […]

  5. Richard Says:
    September 7th, 2006 at 4:27 am e

    I may have to check it out. I love BTV, so that wouldn’t be an issue. What excites me is that it will play itunes protected music. How quick is the interfacing with itunes?

    Unfortunately I haven’t had the possibility to test it with iTunes yet.

  6. I’ve been working with Tvedia 4.1 trying to strip out much of the “media-player” functionality which is nice but not what I’m looking for. The front-end functionality is on the other hand the strong point of this application.

    I have TVedia 4.1 working with a 3rd party media player (In my case ZoomPlayer) for playing stand-lone video files and ISO DVD images. I’m still trying to work out a few quirks with DVD drive auto-play and the auto-resume still needing work. Is anyone else wanting to work with me to provide modifcation pathces for stand-along players? Download the 4.1 beta and take a look at the SDK. http://www.8dim.com/support/tvedia-sdk.asp There is some limited information in the forums on the 8dim website too.

    You can email me at tvediamods at ls dot majjix dot com

  7. I am no developer, but you’re working on something very interesting. Using navigation and frontend from a good media center frontend and the playback functionallity from a powerful player like Zoomplayer.

    If possible, please post back here as you progress.

  8. I’m not a developer but I do have some experience with scripting. The TVedia application is very customizable and most of the functions are available from a javascript based interface. I just wish the existing scripts has more comments to make it easier to follow and modify for someone with limited experience.

    This is an example of what is involved: I downloaded 4.1 and there is a file called util.js that contains functions the application uses. The function “PlayItem(item, avidecode)” is used to launch the internal media player with “PlayItemWorker(item, avidecode, false);” which is commented out and I added the following:

    // sets a variable FileToPlay to the fullpath to the selected file to play:
    var FileToPlay = item.GetPropertyStringValue(“res”);

    // sets the variable myplayer to the zplayer.exe path along with selected FileToPlay variable.
    var myplayer = (“”C:\Program Files\Zoom Player\zplayer.exe” “” +FileToPlay +”””);

    // this clever TVedia functions allows you to swawn a 3rd party application and automaticly minimize TVedia and release all resouces (video, audio, remote control). Once the application is closed TVedio take controll back automaticly.
    osd.StartAndSwitchToExternalProgram(myplayer);

    This just an example, I had to comment out and modify a few other things to get it to work cleanly. I think I’ll be using the built-in media player for audio files so I’ll have to come up with some if logic to handle stuff like that but logic like this already exists in the existing code so it should be easy.

    I’ve got a two year old, full-time job and not much time to work on this stuff. It would nice if someone else wanting something like wouldn’t mind looking and sharing.

    I also do have TVedia and ZoomPlayer working perfectly with Girder / USB-UIRT and my trusty and inexpensive Sony RM-VL900 remote control.

  9. Guest says:

    Unfortunately it looks like the TVedia company (8 Dimensions) has officially announced they will not be offering PVR function at all.

    What a shame this is. Otherwise this would have been the ideal software. :(

  10. Seems like you’re right. You find the statement from JP in this forum link.

    Interesting. I think they’re a bit early if they think download and streaming will completely take over for broadcast in the next 2 or 5 years.

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