Charles Shopsin is a New York City-raised and Brooklyn-based software developer. In his spare time, he runs the Modern Mechanix blog, waits tables, and finds new ways to torture his cat. His dream girl is Jordan from the movie Real Genius.
Hi! I'm Charlie and I'll be your guest blogger this week. I'm not sure what Joel was thinking when he offered this spot to a blogger whose blog consists entirely of scanned images. Kindly direct all complaints to him.
Recently I purchased a big screen LCD television and a PlayStation 3 with the goal of using my PS3 as a network media player. Up until this weekend, I've found it to be a pretty frustrating experience. My goal was pretty simple: I wanted to store all of my media on a 1TB drive attached to my AirPort Extreme and play it through my PS3. It should've been a snap, right? This thing is a frickin' supercomputer with every connectivity option imaginable. Why did it not work?
The first thing I discovered is that you can't play media from a plain-old shared network folder (Windows or Mac). Instead, you need a DLNA compliant UPnP server. No problem. Windows Media Player has a built in UPnP server and it seemed to work fine. I could see all of the media on my computer under the Video tab on the PS3. So I started browsing around to see how things looked on my fancy new TV.
Some things played fine, but others give me a "this data type is not supported" message, seemingly at random. I'm sure that someone with a deep knowledge of video encoders, transcoders, muxers and media containers could tell you why, but I can't. Also, forget about playing back any H.264/AC3 HD content one might have um ... acquired on the Internet.
The other issue I noticed was that I couldn't see any of the video stored on my AirPort Extreme, even though I had the shared disk mapped to a drive in Windows and had added it to my WMP media library. Apparently, WMP doesn't allow you to share content from a remote drive.
So, I went looking for a third party solution and found one called PS3 Media Server, an open source java app that runs on Windows/Mac/Linux. The description on the site claimed that it could make your PS3 play pretty much anything under the sun, with zero configuration:
- Real-time video transcoding via MEncoder
- DVD ISOs images / VIDEO_TS Folder transcoder
- OGG/FLAC/MPC/APE audio transcoding
- Thumbnail generation for Videos
- All formats PS3 natively supports: MP3/JPG/PNG/GIF/TIFF, all kind of videos (AVI, MP4, TS, M2TS, MPEG) the ps3 is willing to play
- Display camera RAWs thumbnails (Canon / Nikon, etc.)
- ZIP/RAR files as browsable folders
- Support for pictures based feeds, such as Flickr and Picasaweb
- Internet TV / Web Radio support with VLC, MEncoder or MPlayer
- Podcasts audio/ Video feeds support
- Basic Xbox360 support
- Direct streaming of DTS / DTS-HD core to the receiver
- Remux PS3 compatible H264/MPEG2 video and all audio tracks to AC3/DTS/LPCM in real time with tsMuxer
- FLAC 96kHz/24bits/5.1 support
I installed it, turned on my PS3 and went to the Video tab. There was now a new entry called PS3 Media Server and under it, I found all of the drives on my computer, even the network shares. Everything played! All of the videos that wouldn't play before worked fine now. Even H.264/AC content played fine, thanks to the ability to transcode/remux video streams on the fly.
I've only just scratched the surface of what this app can do, but it has already made watching video over my PS3 a lot more pleasant.