Sharing your media around the house

I have CDs in mp3 format and videos that I have now centralised onto a massive hard drive at home.   And I want to be able to listen and view these around my house at home.   Like on my TV, on my home stereo, on my portable iPod docking speakers.

Simple request?  I think so.

Simple answer?  Not really.

I’m started drawing up this list of solutions as it may help others out there in the same position as me.

—– 

Scenario 1: Video stored on Server, Controlled by iPhone, Viewed on iPhone

Use Air Video.  Best thing about this is that Air Video will transcode media on the fly so that it will “just work” on the iPhone or iPod Touch.

Scenario 2:Video stored on Server, Controlled by PS3, Viewed on PS3

Use PS3 Media Server.  Best thing about this is that PS3 Media Server will transcode media on the fly so that it will “just work” on the PS3.  PS3 Media Server is what is referred to as a DLNA Server – which means devices that support the DLNA protocol (like the PS3 and XBOX360) will be able to talk to it.

Scenario 3: Video stored on Server, Controlled by family member’s PC, Viewed on family member’s PC

I’m not sure what’s best here at the moment.  Just use folder sharing?  This seems a bit “backward”!  I’m still looking for a really easy to use, nice looking DLNA client program for the Mac.  Might try XBMC (Xbox Media Center – a piece of software that was originally designed to turn an old XBOX into a Media Center, but now exists on many different platforms).

Scenario 4: Music stored on Server, Controlled by Server, Listen on Home Stereo

Use iTunes on Server, output to Airport Express speaker connected to Home Stereo

Scenario 5: Music stored on Server, Controlled by iPhone, Listen on Home Stereo (practically the same as above)

Use iTunes on Server, output to Airport Express speaker connected to Home Stereo, use Apple Remote on iPhone to control iTunes on server

Scenario 6: Music stored on Server, Controlled by PS3, Listen on PS3

Use PS3 Media Server running on Server, PS3 automatically recognises PS3 Media Server.

Scenario 7: Music stored on Server, Controlled by iPhone, Listen on iPhone (or speakers with iPhone dock)

Not sure.  Airfoil nearly gets there but due to no multi-tasking, you can’t run the Remote application and the Airfoil application at the same time on the iPhone.  Other third party solutions include Dot.tunes and Orb. 

Scenario 8: Music stored on Server, Controlled by family member’s PC, Listen on family member’s PC

Use iTunes on Server, use iTunes on other PC, setup with iTunes Home Sharing

—–

So it seems you still need a few different bits of software to achieve what really should be simple. 

Running a half Apple setup at home, iTunes is a good fit.  However, additional things to make it all work include Air Video, Airfoil and PS3 Media Server.   However, I’m now running THREE different media server applications – iTunes, Air Video and PS3 Media Server.  This is ridiculous!  It would best if I only had to run one.  Why can’t iTunes do it all?  

There also seems to be much overlap between Air Video and PS3 Media Server too – they both do transcoding and make media libraries easily accessible via other devices – these guys should join forces or something. 

Also, it seems really restricted and limiting that I can access my iTunes libraries on other family member’s PCs, but I can’t on my own iPhone at home.   Apple – are you listening?  You really need to expand Home Sharing to iPhones and iPod Touches.  I would love to have the gigabytes of music on my server natively accessible to my iPhone at home.  It would make my iPod docking speakers a true media extension for my home.

The day when it all just works simply without the user having to figure out which application to use for what purpose – that’ll be the day when technology really starts helping us instead of users being slaves.

Related Links

PS3 Media Server: http://code.google.com/p/ps3mediaserver/

Air Video: http://www.inmethod.com/

Airfoil: http://www.rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/

XBMC: http://xbmc.org/

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5 thoughts on “Sharing your media around the house”

  1. Hey Jase,

    Thanks for the great post, was actually looking for a good solution to transcode video on the fly to play on my iPhone and Air Video works a treat!

    This completes my media setup at home which centres around the NetGear ReadyNAS Duo, which is a low cost extensible NAS, which is a DLNA server which streams media to the PS3, and also includes a iTunes Streaming Server based on Firefly (just shows up as an iTunes Server on any iTunes on the network). BT client too which is great, (also does over the air Time Machine backups if you have fast enough wifi).

    XBMC is a great DLNA client for Mac, wouldn’t it be great if Front Row has a DLNA client built in? There are heaps of DLNA client apps for the iPhone (mainly for audio, and video that iPhone supports, H.264 mainly), but these might work well to play audio around the house, but not built into the standard apps, so Home Sharing would be awesome… (pity no signs of this in iPhone OS 4)

    Now with Air Video, I just point it to my media share on the NAS, then I can just watch tv shows anywhere, so much appreciated with your well timed post!!! 🙂

    Swang.

    1. Not to sound like a smart ass, but using an additioonal machine with your NAS box kinda goes against the purpose. I’m currently in search of a NAS solution, I’m beginning to learn that AirVideo or “transcoding on-the-fly” while maintaining BT downloads and DLNA serving may not be possible, just yet. I run this setup on a 2001 – P4 @ 512MB running Ubuntu and have no hiccups watching a movie over 3G.

      In fact, finding a guide for installing AirVideo onto a NAS box has come up short. Services with web-based GUIs like Transmission, Subsonic and TwonkyMedia Server are becomming quite common and port nicely

  2. Sam,

    Thanks for the comment – yep, Air Video is amazing – I was surprised how it “just works”.

    I tried XBMC last night on my wifey’s MacBook and it looks slick, but I had some problems with it not displaying all the files/folders from PS3 Media Server. A separate dedicated DLNA server sounds like a good idea – I’ll have to look into the ReadyNAS Duo! Thanks for the tip. I forgot all about Front Row – yes, why it would make perfect sense for this to be a DLNA client!

    As for iPhone DLNA clients – I tried MLPlayer Lite last night. It could hardly play any of my videos (wrong format – will need to see if I can configure PS3 Media Server to transcode them into an iPhone suitable format), and the music browsing did work but I wasn’t convinced by the UI. I’ll try a few others when I have time.

  3. Hey Jase,

    I tried MLPlayer Lite too and wasn’t too impressed by the UI, most videos don’t play on iPhone (as they are not H.264), but I use it to stream audio from the NAS if I’m desperate… 🙂

    Feel free to drop by my place whenever you have some time if you want to check out the ReadyNAS Duo, more than happy to give you a demo as I was quite surprised how much it actually did when I got it. Just DM me on twitter or email me.

    If you want to get super g33ky/n3rdy you can install add-ons from NetGear (http://www.readynas.com/?page_id=617) or 3rd party even (http://www.readynas.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=47)! I am tempted to setup the SVN server add-on, now that I need a source code repository working for myself from home…

    Cheers,

    Swang.

    P.S. Full Disclaimer: I don’t work for NetGear, nor get any commission for recommending/flogging their products… 🙂 Just a very happy customer/enthusiast! 😀

  4. jasechong…

    Have you tried using orblive? I’m running the latest version on a windows7. Orblive also supports mac platforms. I store all my media on a seagate blackarmor NAS110 which is hardwired into my Linksys E3000 wireless router. With orb, I am able to share/stream music, video/t.v., webcam, documents, and pictures to my ps3, xbox360, ipod touch, ipad, and droid. It also allows you to create a mycast page so you can invite friends or even login from any computer with internet.

    The software is free and you can find it at http://orb.com/download_orb. The server automatically shows up on your networked xbox360 and ps3, but you must purchase the apps for the ipod/ipad and droid through iTunes/market place. It also supports most video and audio formats by converting on the fly!

    Orb works great with this setup. I do get video lag once in a while over my network, but I think it it all depends on your internet connection speed. The only other downfall about this program is it does not allow you to fast forward/rewind/pause when streaming to your xbox and ps3, and I have had issues with it updating the media source folders when I add new files. I just manually refresh the source folder when new files are added.

    Anyways, let me know if you have any questions about this program. I have been using it for a while and the program seems to be getting better with every update!

    AkAmAi_Dats_Y

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