Xbox 360 Makes a Wonderful Media Server
I’m a little late getting on the boat, but I recently purchased myself an Xbox 360. The games are nice, but what I use it for more than anything is a media server.
Out of the box the 360 can connect to any computer running Windows Media Center. A lot of people seem to like this program but it has one serious downfall, the file formats it supports. Basically it just supports playing of Windows Media Files. So all those .avi, mpeg, and DIVX movies you got (which are probably in .avi format if you’re getting technical about it) are about as useful as a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest (sorry if I offended any one-legged men with that analogy).
Initially I looked into converting all my files into Windows Media files, but quickly scrapped this idea when I discovered how much of a pain in the ass that can be. Thankfully I discovered a little program called TVersity.
TVersity is a free media center program for Windows that supports both Xbox 360 and PS3 (though I’ve never tried it with a PS3). It allows you to choose which files on your computer you will share and even allows for playlists and categorizing your videos/music/pictures.
When you want to play a video on your Xbox, you simply go to the Media section, choose Video, and browse to the file you want. TVersity essentially creates a stream of the playing file on your PC and sends that stream to your Xbox. So any video you can play on your computer should in theory play on your Xbox. So unlike using the Windows Media Center, you can install things like DIVX codecs and play pretty much any file you want.
PC storage is also much more plentiful than what is available on the Xbox… when you start saving video files, you’ll find that even the biggest Elite model of the Xbox fills up quickly. It’s a lot easier and cheaper to add more storage to your computer than to your Xbox.
The only issue I’ve had with TVersity is that occasionally I have to stop and then start the service for TVersity (oddly enough restarting doesn’t work, it must be stop then start). This usually happens after I’ve been away for some time, like when coming back after a day of work. It’s a pretty minor gripe for all the sheer awesomeness of having all my movies and TV shows just a few clicks away.
The only thing better would be if I could get this whole setup to work like a TiVo… I’m still looking into that.
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