News — 17 July 2013

You probably already know that there’s a way to stream videos and movies on your TV. But which streaming method works the best? Using a PS3 Media Server app and the right hardware can let you flawlessly stream video content from your PC to your TV.

The basic idea goes as follows: you might have hundreds, perhaps thousands of videos on that big 1TB hard drive in your PC, or you might have several external drives connected to your PC that contain videos you want to watch. Sure, you can always watch them on your PC, but how about being able to view them right on your TV?

The most straightforward method would be to copy the video to an external USB drive or flash memory stick and plug that device into your TV or a media player. While this might work if you only watch a video once in a while, it will soon get tedious.

What you would want instead is to set up a way for content to be delivered directly from your PC to your TV. This can be accomplished with one simple software tool called PS3 Media Server, which allows you to stream content over your existing home network. Even though the app has “PS3” in it, don’t let its name fool you: it will work with a variety of device and not just the Sony PlayStation 3. It can be used with other gaming consoles such as the Microsoft Xbox, as well as HD media players.

If you’re using a service similar to Cloudload you can easily use your existing ps3, xbox, wii or media player to connect wirelessly and stream videos from your account. Or simply connect a HDMI cable from your laptop or desktop to your TV. Cloudload lets you download any file from your account directly to your computer since there are no DRM restrictions.

What this App Can Offer You

The main reason you would find it advantageous to use this app is simply because of the convenience it can give you. It’ll allow you to have instant access to the entire media library found on your PC as well as any storage devices connected to it. This means that all your videos, photos and music will be available directly on your TV, without the need to copy the files to an external drive connected to your TV. Another big advantage is that you don’t need to have all of the devices physically located in the same room. This means, for example, that your PC can be located in your bedroom while your TV can be found in your living room.

All of that is very easy if your use a wireless setup. However, you may also use a wired setup instead, but this would mean running cables from one room to the other if you want the devices to work together. We will give you information on how you can set up streaming over your home network by explaining what you need in terms of hardware and software, as well as how to put it all together. After this is done, everything should work smoothly, but there might be some issues you may need to iron out. Even then, you will get the right information on how to fix those issues for a smooth streaming experience.

ps3The Hardware: What You Need to Get Your Streaming Setup Ready

Before you do anything else, you will need to have the right hardware. The main device in the setup will be your computer. This could be a desktop PC or a laptop, which will serve as the main media hub. There aren’t really any specific requirements for the PC, except that it needs either Wi-Fi connectivity or an Ethernet port, which all modern computers have.

The second device you will use is the router. If you use a Wi-Fi setup, there are some requirements that the router will need to meet in terms of range. Different routers will offer you varied ranges, which may also vary with the basic architecture and layout of your house. If you prefer to use a wired setup, every device will need to be connected to the router via a LAN cable.

The third and final device is called an intermediary device, which connects to your television. This device could be a gaming console like the PS3 or an HD Media Player.

Wired or Wireless: Your Setup Options

You have two basic choices as far as your setup is concerned: wired or wireless. If you go with the wired option, it is best for all devices to be present in the same room. That way, you can easily connect the PC to the router and then to the intermediary device. While it is possible to have the devices in different rooms, you will need to run Ethernet cables to each location, which may involve drilling holes through walls and mounting the cables neatly along the baseboards.

If you opt for the wireless option, all devices will need to connect to your Wi-Fi router and be within range. For your setup to work, every device must be connected to the router. You will find that this method is a lot convenient if you don’t have all the hardware in one room, as all the data is transmitted wirelessly, so there is no need to run cables from room to room.

routerChoosing the Right Router is Very Important!

If you want your streaming to work smoothly, the right router is a must. While your Internet provider may have supplied you with a basic model, it will often not be powerful enough to support HD media streaming due to a lack of bandwidth. What you need is a wireless “N” router. There are two main choices as far as the bandwidth of “N” routers: 150Mbps or 300Mbps. Obviously, a 300Mbps router is better. One of the models we recommend is the Linksys X2000 ADSL2+, which has an ADSL2 modem included.

For most users, a wireless “N” router will be enough, as it will deliver quality standard and high definition video streaming. But if you’re big on HD movies with full DTS audio, getting a router with more bandwidth is a better option. A Gigabit router like the TP-Link N600 would work well, but you also need to check whether your PC supports Gigabit Ethernet.

Intermediary Devices to Use With the PS3 Media Server App

A large number of devices will work with PS3 Media Server. Gaming consoles such as the Xbox and PlayStation 3 work very well. So do HD Media Players which can connect to a LAN either by Ethernet cable or through Wi-Fi.

Getting the Most out of Your Wi-Fi Setup

Once you get the right hardware, you will want to set it up in a way that results in maximum performance. One of the main reasons behind streaming problems in a wireless setup is overloaded channels. As there are numerous wireless networks around your house, your router may use the same channel that already has several other users on it, which may slow down communications somewhat.

You can use the Stumbler tool in an effort to see the channels around your home and the activity on each of them. If a channel is too congested, you may configure the router manually to use another one. After doing this, you should notice better streaming quality and slightly better range.

How You Can Get the PS3 Media Server

If you want an app that lets you stream videos without worrying about compatibility issues common with some video formats, PS3 Media Server is the app you need. It works with most HD media players, as well as gaming consoles such as the Xbox and PS3.

You can download it from right away. The software is compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Following the installation, you will simply select the folders which contain the media you want to share with your TV.

softwareHow the Software Works

PS3 Media Server does a great job keeping your videos compatible with your intermediary device by transcoding them as they play. With most PCs, this process will be very seamless. However, if your PC isn’t powerful enough, you may get longer buffering times or playback issues. If this happens, click on the Transcoding Settings tab and make some changes to the numbers until you get adequate playback quality.

Using the PS3 Media Server with the Xbox, PS3 and various HD media players is quite simple, as your videos will simply show up under the “videos” section of your device’s menu. When we reviewed the playback, it was completely smooth with many file formats like MP4, AVI and MKV, in both standard definition and HD. Remember that the software is able to handle all of the most common audio and video file formats.

Getting it all Set Up

Once you install the software on your PC, you simply need to go to the “navigation / share” settings area. This is the place where you can select which folders contain the media you want to share. You may share as many folders as you want.

Common Problems and How to Solve Them

Even if you exercise the utmost care in setting up your wireless streaming network, things could occasionally go wrong. One of the problems most commonly reported by users is that PS3 Media Server is unable to see the device it is supposed to stream to. Closing the software and reopening it would usually resolve the issue immediately.

Electronic interference around the router is another common cause for problems. Certain devices, such as cordless phones or microwave ovens may emit radiation that causes interference in the wireless signal. This may cause a slight drop in bandwidth and thus affect streaming quality. The only solution here is to create some space between the interference-causing devices and the router. So you either move the router, or more the other electronic device.

If you seem to get “laggy” or stuttering performance while you stream an HD video, try connecting your router to the PC via Ethernet cable to see if this resolves the issue. If it does, there might be a problem with your laptop or PC’s wireless card, but it is often a problem with the software drivers and not a physical problem with the card itself. Visit the website of your wireless card’s manufacturer to find an updated version of your drivers. Install them and try streaming again. In many cases the issue will be resolved.


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(1) Reader Comment

  1. It works ! Thank you.