The ability to remotely schedule recordings on your Windows 7 Media Center seems a like a feature that should have been included from the very launch of the operating system. After all, Microsoft did hire the developer of Web Guide, the program that allowed this feature, along with streaming of your content, that was available for Media Center in Windows Vista. Fortunately the developers over at Fat Attitude have come to the rescue! They have developed a new program called Remote Potato.
Remote Potato is actually very similar to Web Guide. It runs as a web site on your local Media Center machine. So to get to it remotely you will have to open a port in your firewall. Despite being in beta the program has many features. Not only will you see a completely customizable guide when you go to your website, you will be able to schedule one time recordings, series recordings, and manual recordings by channel and time. You can also cancel a single or series recording. If you want to view a list of shows that are scheduled to be recorded soon, you can do that too. And last, but not least, Remote Potato will display the recently recorded items from your Media Center.
There are some downfalls though. The guide data does have to be setup separately. The recommended method is to use mc2xml to download the guide data from the legacy Media Center guide service, TitanTV, or Schedule Direct. An xml file will then be created. The Remote Potato configuration tool will then need to be pointed at this xml file to provide it with the guide data. Eventually this data will get stale though, and so you will need to do something to refresh it regularly. The recommended method is to setup a scheduled task within Windows to regularly run mc2xml. If you are currently using ATSC or QAM tuners then the Microsoft Legacy option from mc2xml will not properly provide the channel data. It will completely leave out sub-channels. This isn’t directly the fault of Remote Potato, but because it can’t provide the data on its own, you are stuck with this. The other option is to donate $20 or more to the mc2xml team and they will provide you with a version of the tool that will apparently pull the guide data from the new native data store within Windows 7 Media Center.
The web interface for Remote Potato is not the prettiest UI you will ever use, but it is extremely function. It can even easily be used from an iPhone or Android web browser.
While Remote Potato may not have all of the features of Web Guide, most notably missing is the ability to stream your content over the internet, it does still provide the core functionality that many Media Center users have been desperately waiting for.