I want to watch videos that are shared on my home network on my TV
February 28, 2007 10:21 PM   Subscribe

I want to watch videos that are shared on my home network on my TV

So, I was about to buy an Apple TV, thinking it was perfect for what I want to do, but I don't have a widescreen TV (I have a 29" sd tube TV). So I'm looking for a similar device so I can watch videos shared on my home network on my TV. Support for various file types would be best, but .avi and .mpg are necessary. Must be wireless too. Does such a thing exist?
posted by disaster77 to Technology (19 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You sir need to get hold of an old xbox, softmod it. And install Xbox media center. Cheap as chips. And perfect for the job.
posted by gergtreble at 10:39 PM on February 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

Also it will play ANYTHING you throw at it. Including music and photos. I made one for myself, and now all my friends want them too.
posted by gergtreble at 10:40 PM on February 28, 2007

Dlink DSM-320 might work, though last time I looked they were a little quirky with fast forwarding and rewinding. Of course, that was a year ago, they might have improved. I think buffalo and a few other consumer networking companies have similar offerings.

I can't remember the details any more, but I think the DSM-320 and other's like it rely on special media server software running on the systems hosting the files. The DSM-320 can play MPEG4 files natively. Some of the others rely on the media server software to transcode to a supported format.
posted by Good Brain at 10:44 PM on February 28, 2007

Mediagate HD 350. I use it to wirelessly stream video from any computer in the house, including HD content. Sometimes the HD content jitters, so I copy it to a USB hard drive, plug it into the mediagate and stream from the drive. Great device.
posted by rsclark at 11:08 PM on February 28, 2007

If you're keen for the DIY route there's always MythTV.
posted by PenDevil at 11:22 PM on February 28, 2007

+1 the mediagate. it plays everything. the only issue i noticed in the one my friend uses at home is that it sometimes drops frames, for reasons we haven't discovered yet. otherwise it is a flawless and sexy little box.
posted by shmegegge at 11:50 PM on February 28, 2007

I have a modded xbox (bought pre-modded from ebay). It is awesome and does exactly what you want. The only thing is that mine is connected with a wire. You need some more hardware to make it wireless but I was too tight to shell out for it.
posted by tomw at 12:57 AM on March 1, 2007

Just to chime in with an nth for XBMC on a softmodded xbox. Once it's up and running it's very easy to use and plays almost everything. Getting it set up, especially configuring it to access your network shares, can take a moderate amount of technical nouse (know how to use a text editor and FTP) but it's very much do once and forget forever. It's very user friendly when it comes to the actual watching of TV. My non-technical wife loves it.
posted by adamt at 1:18 AM on March 1, 2007

I love my MVIX. It handles HD, but also works fine with non-widescreen tvs, you can store stuff on the hard drive, plug in a USB drive or stream wirelessly from your desktop. And it plays almost any format known to man, even DVD files that you may wish to 'back up'.
posted by FreezBoy at 5:26 AM on March 1, 2007

Another vote for XBMC - I bought mine off Kijiji (or you can try Craigslist) for $120 CDN and it came pre-modded with a 120gig harddrive and ftp already set up. Now I just stream movies over. It'd also play any DVD/CDs with divx and whatnot on it.
posted by Sallysings at 7:09 AM on March 1, 2007

+1 for the Xbox. I have one and LOVE it. I suggest getting a hold of the Xbox DVD kit, since the remote works perfectly with XBMC, and you can use that remote to program a universal remote if you want. You can buy the Xbox wireless adapter for networking, or you can buy a 'wireless access point' from Belkin or someone else for significantly less - I think I got mine for $30 or so. They are a bit more complicated to configure, but it'll save you money. (And, it's a good thing to have anyway.)
posted by cebailey at 7:35 AM on March 1, 2007

Absolutely the XBMC, for the N+1 time. I've had mine set up for over a year now, and it just works. It also plays everything, including auto-mounting DVD images. It handles nearly any audio or image format as well (except, of course, DRM'd stuff).

It works so well, I'm going to buy another one for my basement movie-room project. Rock solid, and the mod isn't that difficult if you can just follow directions.
posted by griffey at 8:12 AM on March 1, 2007

Can you play streaming audio with the XBMC? Shoutcast for example?
posted by Big_B at 10:05 AM on March 1, 2007

Go the XBOX media center route. It even plays ISO images of ripped DVDs you might have on your network share.

Also, I'd spend the 6 dollars for a third party Xbox DVD playback kit so you can use XBMC via a (albeit somewhat crappy) remote.
posted by zackola at 10:06 AM on March 1, 2007

I have used XBMC, MythTV, and Windows MCE. For ease of use, set it and forget it usage on a standard definition TV, I'd recommend the XBMC as well. I think any wireless solution will create problems and cost you some money (at least until 802.11n is cheap & proven, and even that solution may not be 100% depending on your environment).

I bought the Netgear powerline adapters to stream HD video files to a computer (as well as my XBMC) that I couldn't reach with a cable. Essentially you run ethernet traffic over your electrical circuits in the home. I have the newer higher speed units. While they will never be consistently dead nuts reliable or fast as hooking up wires to/from a router, they are dumb simple to use compared to configuring wireless networks/security. No software or configuration is required on the computer/pc.
posted by bxg at 10:28 AM on March 1, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you for the suggestions everyone. Looks like XBMC is the winner so I will look into that. I just realized doing wired isn't too much of an issue as I have a drop ceiling and I can run wires without much ado. Since I'm generally technically inclined and always looking for a project to do, I may just try to set this up myself rather than buy a premade one.
posted by disaster77 at 11:51 AM on March 1, 2007

XBMC is great BUT, if you want to do HD in the near future, you're going to hit a dead end with it, unless you are willing to mod the CPU with a more powerful one.

I currently have the XBOX running and I love it, but I am craving HD.

FreezBoy, how is the UI on the MVIX? It is top of my list, but I have concerns about how flexible the on screen display is. Do you have to choose the source every time you want to play a file?

The beautiful thing about the XBMC is that it is infinitely customizable for ease of use (read, the wife likes it), and when you pair the whole thing up with the DVD kit and a Logitech harmony remote, you're in low-def home theatre heaven!
posted by sonicgeeza at 6:46 PM on March 1, 2007

Response by poster: Just an update:
I went to EB Games tonight an picked up a used XBox and the other items I needed and set everything up. It's absolutely perfect! Thank you for the suggestion again.
posted by disaster77 at 9:15 PM on March 1, 2007

I went the xbox path and used a Xecuter 2.6 CE Mod Chip & Xapter. For others who buy this avoid using the screw that comes with Xapter - it is rubbish and failed to hold the solderless adapter against the points. Just use a normal screw and everything will be fine.

I like my system because I also play games but frankly the system is overkill for ordinary users. There are plenty of cheap standalone network hard drive systems you could use or just get a s-video cable for you laptop (as long as your TV is new enough to have the connection)
posted by srboisvert at 1:19 AM on March 2, 2007

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