Sunday, October 31, 2010

My media jukebox

Because of my schedule away from home it's a lot easier to haul around my laptop with Windows Media Center (WMC) and use it as a media device than it would be to carry my cds, DVDs, and Bluray discs everywhere.  Here's what I use and the reasons for it.

Windows Media Center

The first step is to get the media on the computer.  For music I use Apple's iTunes to rip my music.  I don't like iTunes generally but this is the one thing it does well enough for me to recommend it.  I'm not saying it's bad but I have different tastes.  For ripping DVDs and Bluray to the hard drive I use SlySoft's AnyDVD HD.  I know there may be other programs out there that are free or cheaper than this one but I've used SlySoft's products for a long time and I really like how well it works.  AnyDVD also lets me keep a Bluray's copy protection there so nothing ends up broken when I try to watch it.  Again, this is a personal preference, feel free to use what you like.  


Before I go further I think I should talk a little about hard disk space.  DVDs and music don't tend to take up a lot of space by today's standards but Bluray does.  Fully ripped there are movies that come close to 50GB, for that reason alone I only carry a few Blurays around on my laptop and swap them out when I'm home.  Also, if you plan to use the tools I use you're going to want to rip Blurays as .iso files to make things work the best possible.  

Alright, now we've got the files on the hard drive let's get to the business of playing them.  Music will play nativly in the media center s othere's nothing to worry about there if you have your libraries set up.  For DVD and Bluray I use My Movies for Windows Media Center to organize things nicely.  To make WMC play nicely with Bluray you'll need a third party program since playback isn't built into Windows, I use Cyberlink's PowerDVD and mount the images with SlySoft's Virtual CloneDrive.  You shouldn't need either of those for just DVD playback though, but I haven't tested it since I use Bluray as well.

Virtual CloneDrive

There you have it, easy as pie.  Remember kids, piracy and stealing cars is bad so please only rip what you legally can.  Links to what I mentioned above are just below this bit.


Virtual CloneDrive

My Movies for Windows Media Center


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