Using Windows Media Center as the entertainment backbone of an installation will allow your customers to enjoy their personal media, audio, and video from anywhere in their home. WebGuide takes this a step further by allowing clients to access the same content from virtually anywhere. Offering WebGuide as part of a customer’s entertainment package is a great way to add value to any installation and differentiate your company from the competition and a way to gain additional margins on installations.
With WebGuide users get their Windows Media Center content from any computer or device with Web access. The add-on is incredibly easy to use, and free. The Web interface interacts with Windows Media Center, and users easily access their media collection, including all TV. The media is all searchable by date, time, program, actors, musicians, or keywords. It is also available in 13 languages: Czech, English, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, and Swedish.
WebGuide uses the Internet to seamlessly connect with the customers’ Windows Media Center PC and gives them access to the same media they have at home. After logging in at a private IP address, the users are directed to the home page where their media is accessible and easy to navigate through. On the left side of the page there are links to a program guide, recorded media, pictures, music, and videos. On the right side is a list of recently recorded programs and programs scheduled to be recorded. By clicking on any of the links or list of recorded programs, users easily find programs, music selections, pictures, or videos. WebGuide also comes in a version that integrates with Windows Home Server, and it has a great Windows Sidebar Gadget that allows users to program and use WebGuide right from their desktop.
Photography has gone through a renaissance in the last 10 years, mainly because of the ease of digital cameras. Now people use Windows Media Center to centrally place all their pictures and make them available in a multitude of locations. With WebGuide they can also enjoy them remotely. People can even share the photos with family members and friends by creating a special login and password for them. Users simply choose the photos to share, and they quickly appear in the same resolution as the original.
Any music collection on Windows Media Center is available through WebGuide. Once users bring up the music catalog, everything is easily seen in alphabetical order by artist or album name. After selecting which music is desired, another window pops up and, after a little buffering, the music begins playing.
The guide is one of the best parts of the program because it links right to users’ local program guide; it does not matter if it is cable, an analog signal, or a mixture of both. The program finds everything and allows users to see what programs are available in the next two weeks, and they can watch and record programs, or schedule any future show to be recorded.
Live and recorded TV is integrated directly into the guide and by clicking on the shows desired users can watch or record any program, or do both at the same time. With the Live TV feature, the users click on the show they want to watch and they are prompted to either record the show or stream it, if they click the stream program button, a window pops up, they select the connection speed, and after a few seconds of buffering, live TV begins to play. Another click on the video and it switches to full screen mode. Users can literally watch a basketball game while sitting in the airport waiting for a plane. If they choose to record the program, with one click, the interface tells Windows Media Center what show to record.
When clicking on a recorded program, users are prompted to stream or download the program. If they choose stream program, the same video window pops up that does with live TV and after a few seconds of buffering, the video starts. They can pause it, rewind it or fast forward it easily, but there are a few seconds of buffer time after each command. The customer also has the ability to stream video files, converted in real time into a format that is easily streamed over the internet.
All the features of WebGuide give users the freedom they truly want with Windows Media Center, and by making it a part of any installation, you set yourself apart from other installers. Even if the customer just wants to share pictures with family members, this gives them that option. Part two on how to install WebGuide is coming soon. If you want to try WebGuide in the interim go download it at http://asciiexpress.com/webguide.
In the last WebGuide installment , we gave an overview of the rich feature set that allows users to remotely