I have invested a lot of time and storage space ripping whole DVDs to my computer. This worked out great, because there is a hidden feature in Windows Vista Media Center for viewing DVDs that have been ripped to hard drives. This worked pretty well, but reveling the menu required changing a value in the registry, and the feature wasn’t very polished, which is likely why it was hidden in the first place. Things have changed in the Windows 7 Beta.
Selecting the “Movie Library” item shows the following screen. I started taking screenshots of the process of adding the DVD’s into the library, but the process was so “duh” obvious that I decided to leave the process out.
Selecting a DVD brings up a menu about the DVD. (This menu is the same template as for selecting an album in a list of music or a video in a list of videos.) There seems to be a lot of room for metadata. I don’t know how that is supposed to work, but hopefully there’s more to come.
Pressing right bring up a list of actions, which for DVDs apparently only lets me edit the disk title.
When I select “restart” my experience is just as though I put in a DVD, except more responsive. I have found that skipping around in the video is much more responsive in this version of Media Center, as compared with Vista’s.
After holding right for a seconds, the selector switches from jumping from one item to the next slowly to this new scrolling mode in Media Center. I forget it’s specific name, but what it does is great. All of the items in the background fade out a little and wizz by, while only a few items show up slowly on top. This allows the user to jump to the general area of an item in a big list. When the user lets go of the left or right button, the item shown in the forground is left selected, and the items in the background fade back in. The whole process is very well animated and seems useful as well.
However, this still is a beta after all, so currently in the Windows 7 beta if the DVD that it selects to show in the foreground begins with “The”, media center will select those letters as the current position. It’s nice that Media Center ignores words like “the” in it’s alphabetizing algorithm, but the guys who wrote the quick scrolling feature didn’t seem to get the memo. I’m sure this will be fixed by the time the Release Candidate is released.
Another nifty new feature of Media Center in Windows 7 is that the user can now, finally, change the position of the video by clicking and dragging the position indicator. It’s acceptable that this wasn’t possible in the past; Media Center is primarily intended to be used on a couch with a remote control, but it’s nice that Media Center is getting this feature as well. (Side note: Media Center is also receiving many touch-related features, but more on that later.)
I wonder if this thing supports ripped BluRay disks… I’ll have to investigate.