MediaPortal is an open-source media centre application that comes packed with ways to keep you entertained.

Does your PC have a TV tuner, for instance? MediaPortal supports many different types: analogue, DVB-C, DVB-T, DVB-S and ATSC, even multiple tuners in the same system. The program can pause, rewind and generally time-shift live TV. Support for all the main TV guides makes it easy to spot your favourite programmes. And if they're on at some inconvenient time, then a host of recording options (record once, record now, daily, weekly, or every time a particular programme appears) will ensure that you don't miss a thing.

If you're more interested in your own music or video collection then MediaPortal doubles as a very capable media player. Not only will it play every DVD or movie that you can view in Media Player, for instance, but the program is also able to store their details in a media database, automatically retrieving relevant video art and other information from the Internet Movie Database. MediaPortal can organise and play your music collection, too, as well as browsing your digital photos, or displaying selected images in a slideshow.

You also get a powerful radio module, which supports all your favourite stations (FM, DVB or internet stream). A Weather tool shows the latest conditions and forecasts for the temperatures you define. And a host of plugins add more functionality, allowing you to for example burn files to disc from within Media Portal, view RSS news feeds, read and send email, play games, even send your PC to sleep and wake up when there's a scheduled programme to record.

What's new in MediaPortal 2.1.1 (changelog) ?

- Media Importer. We increased the speed and improved the stability of the importer process. 
- TV. We added the possibility to manually schedule recordings: schedules can now be defined for any channel by simply setting start and end times/dates. The recording indicator that is displayed on each menu screen while the system is recording a show is now visible in all skins and themes. A new setup option now allows users to change the logo style of TV/Radio channels. Besides a new channel group button to swich groups, we also added configuration options to define if name, logo and number of each TV channel should be displayed in the EPG
- Video playback. A visual indicator will be shown when the playback is paused. Fast forward/rewind now displays the speed of playback.
- Weather. We replaced the weather provider WorldWeatherOnline by OpenWeatherMap. The Weather screen now displays a full seven days of weather forecast instead five.
- Settings menu. The settings menu section has been overworked and now displays its entries in a more logical order and structure.

Verdict ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings

MediaPortal is an excellent media centre, and arguably one of the most powerful open source applications around. If your TV tuner came with some feeble old viewing app, or you're not happy with Windows Media Centre, then give this a try instead