With the proliferation of HTPCs, media center applications are becoming more essential than ever. The idea is to plug in a wireless keyboard-cum-mouse (or an air remote), sit back, relax and experience media in an easy, visually appealing way. Most people don’t know that there are options in this space other than the ubiquitous Windows Media Center. Moovida is one such easy-to-use software that will allow you to watch movies in almost all formats, listen to your music, view your photos in nicely animated slide shows and much more.

Getting started

Download the installer. The installation process is straightforward. Check the Install recommended plug-in automatically box to make sure most of the popular plug-ins are automatically added.

Interface and navigation

Press play: The Moovida interface is user-friendly and easy to navigate with a keyboard.

Scanning media

Most of us use other folders, and you can add your movies by going to the “Devices and Shares" column. Here you will find an item called “This Computer". Browse to the appropriate folder and click the plus sign to add. It will ask you the type of media in the folder. Be patient; Moovida takes a long time to scan.

Content plug-ins

One of the best features of Moovida is its ability to pull in content from the Web. This is done through the plug-ins tab, which is the last tab on the right. The Library button helps you browse through all the plug-ins currently installed in your Moovida installation. You basically have plug-ins that will pull in Web videos from different sources such as TED, YouTube and CNN—plug-ins that will tap into Internet radio services such as ShoutCast; audio streaming services such as GrooveShark that will play almost any song on earth for free and plug-ins that will pull images from services such as Flickr and Deviant art. All this content is showcased in an easy-to-browse and categorized manner. For instance, the YouTube plug-in will let you not only search but also browse videos by category and ratings. You can view top-rated videos for the day or of all time, or most viewed, or even the most recent. To add more plug-ins you have the “Available Plug-ins" button in the main menu.

Playing options

The software has support for most formats out there, so once all your media has been detected (which will take a considerable amount of time), you can get on to browsing/playing it in interesting ways. Moovida downloads cover art and other information of all related media such as music and movies. You also get plot synopses for movies and TV episodes. As a test case, we dumped some mixed videos comprising movies and TV series episodes. The software accurately assigned each of the videos into the proper categories. Clicking on the ‘i’ button gave us information about the exact episode selected. As for pictures, there are fun slide shows.

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