On the old machine, I had TVersity installed to stream media to my PS3. The whole setup worked quite well. The computer was wired to the router, while the PS3 was wireless. Xvid streaming worked great. Divx streaming had the occasional hiccups. Anything 720p was unwatchable.
When I got the new machine, I recreated the TVersity environment with the same results. Some of the stuttering issues are guaranteed due to the wireless PS3, but it still seemed like too much. I started playing with settings.
I was able to eliminate the Divx issues entirely by setting TVersity to always transcode. The problem with transcoding though is that you can’t easily rewind without having to trancode the whole video again up to the point you want to see. Strike one.
Next I tried transcoding an MKV file. Weird results. Every time I started playing the MKV on the PS3, the TVersity server would shut off entirely. I had to then open up the TVersity admin screens and restart the server. This may have been a codec issue, but crashing the server entirely is just unacceptible. Strike two.
Then the little things started adding up. 720p video in MPG format would show awful compression artifacts. Although TVersity had scheduled library refreshes, I’d often still have to manually refresh to see new files. My podcasts were no longer updating daily. The main reason I chose TVersity was because of the built in RSS support for podcasts. If that didn’t work, what was the point? Strike three.
I’ve always seen Windows Media Player show up on my PS3, but have never taken advantage of it. After unblocking the PS3 and setting up some folders to show up in WMP, I hopped on the PS3. Impressive results. Real-time refreshing of the folder. Xvids still played perfectly. The Divx files played without jitter. The 720p MPG even played without jitter! I’m sold.
Now the two missing pieces, podcasts and transcoding. For the podcasting, I opted for FeedDemon. It’s quite a feature filled RSS reader, but the key feature I liked was auto downloading of enclosures (or podcasts). I resubscribed to my Revision3 shows, and in no time I was able to watch them. Nice.
Next, the transcoding. With this setup, MKV transcoding is a guaranteed no go. I tried a few conversion tools, but they all seemed to crash. (Maybe it’s because I’m running Windows 7 64 bit.) The tool that did work was GOTSent. Sure it takes a lot longer than MKV2VOB, the program I used before, but it gets the job done, the output looks good, and it streams great.
The things I’m going to miss about the old TVersity setup:
- TVersity has built in podcast support. No need for a separate application.
- TVersity renamed the podcasts to the titles from the RSS feeds. Now, I just see the file names.
- TVersity can trancode files to other formats on the fly.
- TVersity has a web interface for managing the media server.
What I love about the new WMP + FeedDemon + GOTSent setup:
- WMP was running anyways, so there is now one less media server running in the background.
- WMP runs as 64-bit, taking full advantage of my computer’s capabilities.
- WMP updates in real time. No need to do a manual refresh for new files.
- FeedDemon has easy to configure, feed specific settings. TVersity has feed settings, but not nearly as granular.
- 720p over wireless G baby!
Why didn’t I try PS3 Media Server? Well, I did. But it was quite confusing to set up and I never got good results. WMP seems to be my answer for now. Seriously, try it out. You will be surprised.
[UPDATE: PS3 Media Streaming project, part 2]