SmartHome Improvement: Xbox Streaming

You may think smart homes are a thing of tomorrow, but you can make your house a smart home today with these do-it-yourself tips from Darren Gladstone and Josh Schoonmaker. Our weekly video series will walk you through simple steps to help make your home, a smart home – today!

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If you’re like Darren and me (but not too much like us…that’d just be downright creepy), you want to be able to watch movies, TV shows, home videos, and the occasional music video (last night, it was Muppets doing Bohemian Rhapsody for me) from anywhere in your home. Even if said content is stored on a computer in another room. Nowadays, practically all our music has gone digital – and video content isn’t too far behind. We’re going to show you how to easily stream that video throughout the house on this installment of SmartHome Improvementusing your Xbox 360.

 

To facilitate your media streaming, a DMR, Digital Media Receiver, is key.  These devices hook your TV into your network, giving you easy access to music, movies, and pictures from wherever it is stored.  Crazy thing is, many of us already have one.  And before you call out “Well I don’t” with envy in your voice, let me ask you: do you own an Xbox, PS3, newer Blu-Ray player or DVR?  If you answered yes to any of these, chances are you already have a DMR in the house.  Now it’s time you learned to use it. Today, we’re going to show you how to use the most prolific DMR on the market, the Xbox 360, to get all your media onto your TV.  After all, it’s designed to integrate easily with Windows (cant’ imagine why?).

 

 

 

 

The Xbox can do this in two ways:

 

  1.  Xbox Libraries – This allows the Xbox to compile libraries of shared media on the network and directly access it.  You will see these in the Xbox menu under “Video Library” “Music Library” and “Photo Library”.
  2. Windows Media Center Extender– The Xbox can become a media extender for a computer running Windows Media Center and share its media as well as its add-ins and customization.    Xbox will need to pair with the computer, and will EXTEND the computer’s media experience to the Xbox.

You’ll see how to access the Xbox Libraries in the video.  It’s not hard – even my Xbox avatar Joel has figured it out.  I give step-by-step instructions on setting up the Windows Media Center Extender, though.  It’s a bit more involved.

 

Media Extender Code

  1. Inside the Xbox menu, select “Windows Media Center”
  2. The Xbox will recognize it has not been paired with a computer yet, and will provide an 8-digit numeric code.  Write down this code

Add the Extender

  1. Launch Windows Media Center on the computer you will be extending.
  2. Scroll down to the “Tasks” menu
  3. Select “Add Extender” and press “Next”
  4. Enter the 8 digit code in the space provided and press “Next”
  5. Your computer will now do five tasks

          a. Configure computer settings - ~<1 min

          b. Search for you extender - ~<1 min

          c. Configure your extender - ~2 min

          d. Build media library – depends on size of library.  Could take a long time for large libraries
          e. Connect to the extender - ~<1 min
    6.  You will get a “You are done” confirmation.  Press “Finish”

Using Windows Media Center on Xbox

  • Launch Windows Media Center again from the Xbox menu and this time it should connect with your computer and open Windows Media Center
  • You can select Music, Movies, Picture+Video, TV, Sports, Tasks, & Extras
  • As you add other “Add-ins” to Windows Media Center on the computer (ie Home Automation, MyMovies, PlayOn, etc.) they will appear also on your Xbox
  • Remember that because the Xbox is extending your media from the computer, it will only work if the computer is turned on and connected to the network **

 

Now you’re all set to share your entire movie collection onto your TV.  You can even have an entire Harry Potter marathon without ever having to change out a DVD.  Not that I would ever do a Harry Potter marathon

  

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Darren’s Diatribe: PlayOn

Whoa there, turbo! You’re talking about Xboxes, PS3s and all sorts of cool thin-client streaming stuff, but I’ve got to chime in here and mention one CRITICAL bit of software that I cannot do without: PlayOn.

 

If you are hooking up your PC to a TV through your home network, this invaluable app cannot only help you stream all sorts of content throughout your house – it could also help you trim a few bucks off your cable bill. Allow me to provide a link to a story that went up a while back (right here) and quickly explain how PlayOn works. 
 

You buy the software and install it on your main PC (That PC needs to remain on for PlayOn to work). Now, when you fire up you Xbox, look under the Video Library section. You’ll see a PlayOn server pop up. Select that and it allows for streaming content from the Web, through your network to your DMR. At home, I use PlayOn to stream content from Hulu, Netflix, YouTube….let’s just say that it gives you access to a whole bunch of other video sources. Pricing models may have changed a little since I first bought the software, but it’s definitely worth trying out.  Me? I've kicked convential cable to the curb and I ain't looking back! OK, enough of my mini-ramble, Josh. I just had to share my home-streaming lovin'.

 

Does this help you out? If you have questions that you would like answered in a future episode of SmartHome Improvement post them here, and make sure to friend the HP SmartHome on Facebook.

 

**If ever your computer is not on, but you still want to access media content on other network attached devices (like the MediaSmart Server.  Wink, wink.  Nudge, nudge), you can do so through the Xbox libraries.  Just remember that you can’t use any of your add-ins and that the media stored on the computer that is off will be unavailable.

Comments
by Dougieb
on ‎09-10-2010 08:26 AM

OK so how do I do this with a PS3? 

by confusedgeek
on ‎09-10-2010 12:08 PM

dougieb

 

download install ps3 media server onto your pc. pic the drives you want to share and whamo, streaming files from your pc, and a lot more file formats than come be default.

by Jeremy S
on ‎09-14-2010 08:22 AM

How do I get my Xbox 360 connected to my network in order to do this, is there a wireless adapter available??

 

Also,  can I use this to be lazy and stream my desktop through the Xbox360 instead of the HDMI so that I can use sites like Hulu on my TV?

by Vicky
on ‎10-30-2011 06:44 PM

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