Monday, June 29, 2009

PS3 Media Server Continued...

My initial reaction to the PS3 Media Server has been right on so far. I tried streaming a variety of HD-encoded movies to my PS3 over wired and wireless connections. Only videos with the lowest HD bitrates will stream seamlessly over 802.11g, which makes perfect sense. G-woreless does not have the bandwitdth for that amount of data. 802.11n might work, but I don't have any N-based equipment to test on. The wired connection, however, streamed like a dream. This is a 100Base-T connection, not gigabit. I was able to stream every movie I had without hiccups, including an uncompressed Blu-ray rip, complete with 5.1 surround, which I'm pretty sure was the Dolby lossless primary audio track. All in all, very impressive. I should add that proper decoding/demuxing for streaming requires a newer PC to do the heavy lifting. I have a Core 2 Duo (3 GHz)-based system that decodes/demuxes an uncompressed Blu-ray using 75% CPU. Hardware a bit lesser than this should work fine, but not to much lower. If your living room is lacking an HD streamer, but not a PS3, and you have PC with newer hardware, then PS3 Media Server is where it's at.

Friday, June 26, 2009

PS3 Media Server: Streaming HD at last!!!

I've had a PlayStation 3 since December. While I enjoy watching Blu-ray movies on it, I'll admit I don't use it for much else, as I'm not a huge gamer. The game that I play the most is Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, and that's a vintage remake and a download. Torrent sites are flush with HD rips of movies and TV shows, but my HTPC is standard definition only at this point. I've been looking for a way to stream these downloads to my HDTV wirelessly with minimal hassle. Enter PS3 Media Server. This is exacly what I was looking for. PMS (an unfortunate acronym, I know) allows me to stream any HD content from my PC to my PS3 with minimal overhead in perfect quality, including surround sound. I highly recommend this for all HD streaming. Setup is a snap. I haven't tried to stream very high bitrate stuff yet, like a lossless Blu-ray rip. I have a feeling that my existing Wireless-G setup will choke on it, but we'll see. A more through review is coming soon.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Move over, Zotac. ASRock is here.

TweakTown reviewed the coming soon ASRock Ion 330-BD nettop system. This seems to be a nice alternative to my having to build a Zotac Mini-ITX system for a homebrew HD video recorder/streamer. If I can buy something off the shelf that meets my needs, I totally would and do. My previous and current desktop systems are ASRock-based, and they're an Asus brand, which definitely counts for something. Expectations are high here. Overclocking is no big thing with this unit, and power consumption is way low. No word on Flash video performance, though. Not a huge deal, but I'd like to see it. I bet overclocking this thing to 2.1GHz alleviates much of the stutter issue. Anyway, we're waiting for a more thorough review(s).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Blu-ray ISO's are the way to go.

I recently built a new PC for general use. It's the first Blu-ray capable PC I've ever owned, and man, is it sweet. I have a PlayStation 3 already, and since I enjoy the HD movie experience so much, I thought I'd try my hand at ripping a Blu-ray movie. My goal is to preserve the entire disc in full quality via the .iso format, just as I'm accustomed to doing with DVDs. This is very easy to do with AnyDVD HD. It's basically a 2-click solution. The question remains though: how does one playback a Blu-ray .iso file? PowerDVD 9 Ultra, the king of software Blu-ray playback, won't touch it. Nor will VLC. Enter a freeware solution: Virtual CloneDrive. Brought to you by SlySoft, the makers of AnyDVD. This software allows one to mount a virtual optical drive from any .iso file, including Blu-ray rips. Awesome. PowerDVD plays very nicely with a virtual drive. So there you go. But can you stream it? Don't know. Haven't tried. I actually don't have the means to test that one out at the moment. Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Streaming Videos to the Wii

After having successfully hacked a Wii a couple weeks ago, I managed to get wireless video streaming working as well last night. I was able to stream just about every movie file format (with the exception of a DVD .iso file) from a Vista PC to the Wii over wifi. The app I used was MPlayer CE, available via the Homebrew Channel. Not too shabby. Mplayer supports Windows shares, which makes life easy. Video quality was adequate. It would be improved significantly if we were using the Wii component cables. For those looking for a way to view downloaded movies and TV on your Wii from a PC, this is currently the best way that I've seen. There are other media streamers that work with the Wii, like Orb, but they require transcoding to Flash, which degrades video quality significantly and takes extra CPU cycles.