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Zinc: Unlimited Internet Video on Demand.

So I just stumbled across another streaming web application called Zinc, and it looks pretty good.  It’s designed for TV viewing and states that it is Media Center-compatible remote friendly.

Zinc is a free product from ZeeVee.com and basically organizes all the free TV content online in one place.  It even can tie into your Netflix account.

Zinc

I decided to give this a try and see how I could integrate it into my own Media Center menu, so I downloaded the Windows version of the application and installed.  During the install, it runs a hardware compatiblility test to make sure it’s up to the task.

I then decided not to take the first run and instead fired up MC Menu Mender so that I could incorporate Zinc into my Media Center menu.  I took a look at the properties for the created shortcut for Zinc on my desktop and just copied it into the path for the new entry point in MC Menu Mender, added the necessary arguments and copied the logo for Zinc off of the website.  Since Zinc states complete Media Center remote compatibility, I decided to not enable “Use wrapper” for now.  We’ll see how it goes!

Upon starting up Media Center, I was presented by my newly created Zinc entry point in the Pictures+Videos strip…right where I put it.

I gave it a click and voila!  Success!

The first thing I did was link my Netflix account, which prompts you for confirmation.

After that, I’m met with a poster view of available titles.  Take note of all the sorting options available in various parts of the screen.  It’s very nice.  I also noticed that navigation was very smooth and not clunky like most other web interfaces.

Upon logging out of Neflix, I’m met with the initial screen again.  So, I decided to take a look at some of the available channels (FOX, in this example).

All the available shows are presented with the number of episodes.  You can also add your favorite shows here.

Drilling down further gives you the episode views where they are sorted by latest release (newest to oldest).

After selecting an episode, I was prompted to install the Zinc player.  Why this wasn’t installed with the application I’ll never know.  But, for the sake of review, I do so.  Also notice the remote support at the bottom right.

Upon installing and presenting me with a sample for playback, I was ready to roll.

Nice.  The picture is pretty good and I encountered no stuttering or other artifacts during playback.

Next, I decided to take a look at the available settings.  Here you can set Zinc up with local media folders, add other applications for launch, set a few Zinc system settings (enable fullscreen, watched video status, clear cache, etc.), and grab updates.

I decided to add a media folder so that I could check out the local media option.

This began a scan for all available media and it began showing up under the Local Content menu (notice the available thumbnail at the top right – this is generated by Zinc).  I did notice that only AVI files had been detected during the scan.  It’s going to be a disappointment if it does not allow playback of MP4, MKV, etc.  AVI is actually a small percentage of my collection.  On the other hand, I don’t plan on using Zinc for local media.

There are other views available also.

Thumb view:

Thumb detail:

Finally, selecting Zv HDTV presents you with loads of videos related to Zinc and other ZeeVee products,  in case you’re interested.

Upon exiting I was returned to the desktop and all I had to do was hit the Green Button to bring Media Center back to the foreground again.

All in all, I’d say Zinc is one of, if not the, best web apps out there for centralizing streaming media.  I found it much easier to use than Hulu (which it includes also).  The biggest knocks against it for me were the lack of metadata for local media and the overall lack of content.  When I say lack of content, I mean it in comparison to some of the other options like SecondRun.tv.  There’s still plenty to keep you busy though.  Not being integrated within Media Center may also be a turnoff for many of you, but it’s really not all that bad.  Especially if you’ve tried the Hulu desktop application and tried using it with a remote.  First indications also lead me to believe it does not have local support for MP4 and MKV…at least. Other formats may also not be supported.

Check it out…it’s free!

Integrating within Media Center:

I just wanted to make a point on adding the Zinc application with MC Menu Mender.  Your path will be the exact installation path to the Zv.exe .  In the arguments box, you must enter -zviewer or it will not work.  The logo I used is this one:

Zinc Logo

Just download and use!

commentscomments

  1. DustyCraig says:

    how did you customize your vmc background?

    • Jon says:

      I’m too lazy to outline it, so the link below is probably the best directions available. Even though it is for 7MC, the instructions are good for VMC also.

      Link.

  2. DustyCraig says:

    thanks! You have a great webiste here.

  3. Cye says:

    First of all good review on Zinc. I have been using this media center I call it for over 6 months & it has never upset me. It does play all other video types, but you must have the codecs installed in order for it to scan & see them, it only can see what you only have the codec for, thats why I installed before I installed Zinc a piece of software I know you prbably know about & it is called ( K-Lite Codec Pack ) This gives you all codec support atleast most of them. With this codec pack I can even play quicktime files like .mov,.mp4,H.264 inside zinc & even windows media center. Inside the (K-Lite Codec Pack) I get the Xvid,Divx,Flv aka( flash video files)Real player file types, all avi types,mpg,mpeg1,mpeg2 * even the open source codecs & even dvd playback codecs, I love this codec pack because it lets you play any video type in any media player or media center at least on my system’s using windows 7,windows xp pro or home. You can find it at http://www.codecguide.com/download_kl.htm ,But I usually download the one named ( K-Lite Mega Codec Pack ) at http://www.codecguide.com/download_k-lite_codec_pack_mega.htm
    because it has everything & every type of codec already inside of it, you just have to configure it & make the right selections & I ussually add all of the extra codecs inside of it because I want my computers to be able to play every kind of video type, so check it out & you will not be sorry. Zinc media center rocks especially like on my Samsung 40inch 1080p lcd flat screen. I love Zinc, Boxee can not compete I am sorry Zinc has everything including HULU. PLus you can add any site with rss or even flash or html it works out of the box & it does not blog down your system, well atleast mine ,but I am using a intel quad core with 4 gb of mem, buton my amd athlon multi based system it still plays good on that & that is a slow old system that is really about only 1.5 ghz, but says it is 2.8, but AMD tends to lie on there speeds at least what I have found, thats why I only buy Intel now. But anyway people try out Zinc because it rocks & it is the best streaming & other wise best media center with the most to offer that I have ever seen, now I do not have to buy that little waste of money set top box to play my netflix streaming movies/ tv shows on my tv, I now only have to just start up Zinc & boom netflix & popcorn & young lady(he he). Enjoy!

    • Jon says:

      I have predominantly MKV and MP4 files and Zinc did not find those. I don’t see the point in a codec pack when ffdshow plus Haali will play anything but Real Video and some Quicktime content…without all the other conflicting codecs. Compare a system with ffdshow/Haali against another with a codec pack installed using RadLight or some other filter manager…packs just include too much junk.

      I do still use Zinc as an “add-on” for my Media Center though. I don’t watch much with it, but it’s nice to be able to see CollegeHumor videos and whatnot when I want.

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