Getting My Media On
October 23, 2007 at 5:24 AM
I was lucky enough to receive an Xbox 360 for Father's Day, this year, and it brought me one step closer to my dream of on-demand media from my own media server. Throughout the past several months, I've been piecing together all the necessary parts.
First I purchased the WIFI add on for the Xbox. I'm currently running a wireless G network, at home, but the adapter supports A so I have room to increase the bandwidth, if needed (and it probably will be). I have an old desktop that I installed Windows 2003 on (Pentium, 128 Meg) and I wanted to be able to stream my media from that machine to my Xbox. Since I wasn't running Media Center on the machine, I went looking for alternatives. Apparently, if you have Windows Media Player 11, it will let you stream to other devices, but alas it can't be installed on Windows 2003.
Then I found Orb. Orb includes a service that you install on your media machine that catalogs all your media and serves it up either through a web interface on their site or to devices on your network. It was a bit slow and I kept running into files encoded in formats that Xbox wouldn't play. Quite by accident, I then found TVersity. Tversity works similarly to Orb in that it installs a service on the media machine that keeps an inventory of your media files and serves them up. However, it is also smart enough to detect what type of device it's serving the content to and transcode it to a format the device can play. You can also tell it about any video or audio podcasts you like and it will download them and make them available for viewing.
Instead of offering you a web site through which you can access your media, the server on you machine serves up the data on a port that you configure. If you hit this port with a browser, you get a nice flash application that allows you to browse and play your media files. One word of caution, though. The port is not secured by any means, currently, so if you open this port on your router, your media (compromising photos? videos?) is available to anyone who accesses the port.
I'm happy with TVeristy, but my current hardware chokes when the on-the-fly transcoding kicks in. The good thing here, is that after the Xbox spring update the system will play many additional formats which means that less transcoding is necessary. However, for those times when I need the raw power, I've purchased a new Dell PowerEdge server ;-). As good an excuse as any, I'd say.