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Part I: Getting Started with Windows Vista Media Center
Chapter 1: Introducing Windows Vista Media Center 9
Chapter 2: Equipping Your PC for Media Center 19
Chapter 3: Setting Up Windows Media Center 53
Part II: Enjoying Media with Windows Media Center
Chapter 4: Viewing and Recording Live TV 85
Chapter 5: Watching and Recording Movies 137
Chapter 6: Importing and Playing Audio 165
Chapter 7: Importing and Viewing Photos 189
Part III: Beyond the Basics of Windows Media Center
Chapter 8: Enjoying Sports with Windows Media Center 223
Chapter 9: Playing Games and Enjoying Online Resources 251
Chapter 10: Creating CDs and DVDs 289
Part IV: Adding Windows Vista Media Center to Your Home Network
Chapter 11: Adding and Using Media Center Extenders 315
Chapter 12: Connecting with Windows Home Server and Other PCs 337
Part V: Enhancing Windows Vista Media Center
Chapter 13: Using Windows Media Player with Windows Media Center 375
Chapter 14: Creating Photo and Video Content for Media Center 393
Chapter 15: Extending Media Center with Third-Party Apps 435
Chapter 16: Troubleshooting Media Center 469
Part VI: Appendices
Appendix A: Using Windows Anytime Upgrade to Get WMC Features and More 499
Appendix B: Moving from Windows XP Media Center Editions to Windows Vista Media Center 503
In this Introduction
Maximizing the Potential of Windows Vista's Multimedia Control Center
How This Book Is Organized
One of the most significant, yet least used, features in Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate editions, is, ironically, so massive that it once required its own version of Windows XP. That feature is, of course, Windows Media Center (WMC).
WMC enables your PC to be the hub of your digital entertainment experience, and thanks to Windows Vista, you need not sacrifice basic Windows capabilities to enjoy the convergence of TV, movies, music, photography, and video. And to make it even more enjoyable, WMC is just as much at home in a media room with a big-screen HDTV as it is on your desktop. WMC enables you to sit back, relax with your favorite snacks and beverages, and surf your home media resources the same way you surf TV channels.Maximizing the Potential of Windows Vista's Multimedia Control Center
Despite its capabilities, though, WMC is often overlooked by users looking to get more enjoyment and more usefulness out of Windows Vista. This book's Job 1 is to make sure you, the reader, understand what WMC can do, how it makes your life easier and more fun, and, not least, how you can build upon WMC to customize your digital media experience.
As you'll discover by reading this book, you can use portions of WMC without adding any special hardware to a typical PC. But, if you want to maximize what it can do, you'll also discover how to customize your existing system's hardware, which software components to add, and how to use other parts of Windows Vista to make WMC even morepowerful and enjoyable.
As you read this book, you're sure to discover, just as I have, that WMC's simple interface conceals a very powerful, yet user-friendly, media hub. Helping you unleash that power is what this book is all about.How This Book Is Organized
This book contains 16 chapters and two appendixes, covering every aspect of WMC from "What is WMC?" in Chapter 1 to "How do I solve problems with WMC?" in Chapter 16. Let's take a closer look at what you'll find between the covers of this book.
Part I, "Getting Started with Windows Vista Media Center," includes the following chapters:
Chapter 1, "Introducing Windows Vista Media Center," helps you understand the role that WMC plays in the Windows Vista experience, its Windows XP ancestors, and the WMC interface. It's the perfect way to introduce yourself to WMC, or as we often refer to it in these pages, WMC.
Chapter 2, "Equipping Your PC for Media Center," shows you the hardware that different components of WMC need to use. Whether you're building a PC from the ground up, remodeling an existing PC for use with WMC, or preparing to buy a computer for use with WMC, it's a must-read chapter.
Chapter 3, "Setting Up Windows Media Center," gives you a front-row seat as we set up a typical PC for use with WMC. From adjusting your picture to setting up your TV tuner, you'll understand the process from start to finish.
Once WMC is configured, it's time to enjoy it. That's what Part II, "Enjoying Media with WMC," is all about:
Chapter 4, "Viewing and Recording Live TV," shows you how to watch broadcast, cable, and Internet TV, how to deal with standard, digital, and HDTV, and how to record TV shows and series so you can enjoy them on your own schedule.
Chapter 5, "Watching and Recording Movies," shows you how to find out when your favorite movies will be broadcast on TV and how to enjoy your favorite films whether they're on TV, on DVD, or on your hard disk.
Chapter 6, "Importing and Playing Audio," guides you through the process of ripping your CD library to disk, creating playlists, enjoying Internet radio, and synchronizing the contents of a portable media player so you can take your music with you when you leave WMC.
Chapter 7, "Importing and Viewing Photos," helps you grab your photos from your digital camera, organize them, view them, fix common problems, and create impromptu slide shows with music.
WMC isn't just for enjoying media. You can also use it to explore the worlds of sports, news, gaming, and even use it to create your own media, as you'll discover in Part III, "Beyond the Basics of WMC," which includes:
Chapter 8, "Enjoying Sports with Windows Media Center," shows you how to enjoy the riches of sports news, TV, games, and fantasy sports from the comfort of your easy chair and media room.
Chapter 9, "Playing Games and Enjoying Online Content," helps you play the same family-friendly games included with Windows Vista from the comfort of the WMC interface, shows you how to turn WMC into a hardcore gaming launcher, and introduces you to third-party features that enable you to enjoy even more digital music, video, news, and other media without leaving the WMC interface.
Chapter 10, "Creating CDs and DVDs," is your step-by-step guide to creating CDs and DVDs of your favorite music, video, and photos right from the WMC interface.
WMC is powerful all by itself, but your home network makes it even more powerful, as you learn in Part IV, "Adding Windows Vista Media Center to Your Home Network," which includes:
Chapter 11, "Adding and Using Media Center Extenders," introduces you to a hidden side of your Xbox 360: the ability to access your PC's WMC interface via your home network. You'll also learn about other types of Media Center Extenders and how to improve their performance.
Chapter 12, "Connecting with Windows Home Server and Other PCs," helps you use WMC to enjoy media resources on PCs everywhere on your home network, including Microsoft's new Windows Home Server. You'll also learn how to fine-tune your home network for better performance, discover the best choices for Internet service, and learn how to tell when your router is slowing down your network.
Part V, "Enhancing Windows Vista Media Center," helps you learn to make Windows Vista Media Center more powerful by using it in conjunction with other Windows Vista components and third-party applications, and it helps you manage the most common issues you might encounter.
Chapter 13, "Using Windows Media Player with Windows Media Center," shows you how Windows Media Player works with WMC, how to configure its audio-ripping feature so you get the music quality and format you prefer, how to easily create playlists and rate audio, how to edit track and album information, and how to add visualizations so you can enjoy the full capabilities of your digital music collection within WMC.
Chapter 14, "Creating Photo and Video Content for Media Center," helps you explore how to import video, use Windows Live Photo Gallery to make your picture library more WMC-friendly, how to use Windows Movie Maker to shrink the size of your TV recordings, create custom videos, and create DVD slide shows you can enjoy in WMC and elsewhere.
Chapter 15, "Extending Media Center with Third-Party Apps," shows you an exciting world of programs you can use to customize WMC, make its built-in features more powerful, and add new features and capabilities. We've tracked down the software, so you can choose from a wealth of options to make WMC the media center you've always dreamed of.
Chapter 16, "Troubleshooting Media Center," provides expert advice on dealing with the most common problems you might run into and helps you protect your digital media collection.
This book also includes two appendices designed to help readers with specific questions:
Appendix A, "Using Windows Anytime Upgrade to Get WMC Features and More," is a must-read if you have a version of Windows Vista that doesn't include WMC (such as Windows Vista Basic or Business), or if you want to move up from Windows Vista Home Premium to the ultimate (Windows Vista Ultimate). This appendix helps you understand the process of using Windows Anytime Upgrade to move up to a better version of Windows Vista.
Appendix B, "Moving from Windows XP Media Center Editions to Windows Vista Media Center," helps users running PCs with Windows XP Media Center Edition to make the move to Windows Vista.
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