Thursday, January 03, 2013

Windows and XBox 360

Being a person who watches a lot of downloaded content I was trying to figure out a way to stream content directly from my laptop to the TV. Since I have an XBox 360 I wanted to do it through that. In the past I have used Boxee but that meant having another computer connected to the TV.

Windows 7 + Windows Media Center + XBox 360

When I had Windows 7 on my laptop I installed Windows Media Center and then connected that to the XBox 360 and streamed movies. The connection was a bit convoluted and painful. And I suffered from the following problems
  1. It would not reliably connect every time. Sometimes it connected with no issues sometimes it would just not behave. Its not a router issue as both the XBox and the laptop had wired connections into the same router. 
  2. Not all kinds of downloads played. The WMC software would play it on the laptop if the codecs were installed but the same would not play on the TV. 

Windows 8 + XBox 360

I then went on to install Windows 8 on my laptop. This had some very nice options once you install the latest update of the XBox. The XBox gets instantly recognized in case you are on the same network and you can right click on the movie and say play to XBox. Or you can go into the Videos App on Windows 8 and then play the movie directly onto the XBox. Well this was not the perfect solution either.
  1. You cannot fast forward, rewind or start the move from a particular position. Each time you start the movie it starts right from the beginning. 
  2. Not all kinds of movies play. For the last movie that I had the XBox had to be signed into my XBox online account for it to be able to use some plugin to play the movie. When ever for what ever reason the online account got disconnected the movie stopped playing and you have to start from the beginning all over again.

Windows 8 + PS3 Media Server + XBox 360

To overcome the above 2 issues the answer was to install the PS3 Media Server and to stream movies through that onto the XBox. Since the movies were streaming through the Media Server they can be watched from anywhere and also it had all the encoding software to play any kind of movie. All seemed very good in theory and looked like just the hack I needed to get my movies playing. But it was not to be. Neither does my media server show up in the XBox nor does my server show the XBox as a renderer.  Tried all sorts of things including turning off the firewall but did not have any success.

Well I am not sure if Microsoft plans to upgrade the software in the mean time I will try and figure out a way to get this done and if I succeed will give me content for another blog post :).

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