Here is the dilemma that has been bothering me. I’ve got this computer sitting here, attached to a wireless lan. And I’ve got my Nintendo Wii over there, with it’s wireless connectivity, hooked to the TV. I figure there should be some way to send video from my PC to the Wii, so any video I have HERE I can watch THERE. The reason for this desire is simple. There is a couch, coffee table, and companionship over there. From past experience, it is notoriously difficult to convince the wife to stand over my shoulder so that we may watch a movie together on the PC.
So I’ve been looking at various options for accomplishing this. I figured my best chance was to find a way to use the Internet Channel on the Wii to play FLV format video (since the Opera browser has flash video support, albeit outdated). And while this is true, it is far from convenient to encode all your videos to this format and then fight to transfer them over there. It occurred to me that surely someone else was thinking of this. I started searching for software, and found several possibilities, none of which seemed that promising:
- Wii Video 9 – http://www.redkawa.com/videoconverters/wiivideo9/ – You have to convert your videos using this application to a format the Wii can support. Then you copy the videos to an SD card, which you plug into the wii. This sucks for several reasons. 1. Do you know how long it will take to convert a feature length film? 2. I don’t want to have multiple copies of all my videos around, just to copy one or two to a media card. 3. Copying large files to an SD card takes longer than I want to wait. 4. Inelegant.
- Wii Media Center X – also by Red Kawa, but stalled in development and never made it past alpha.
- VLC Media Player – http://www.videolan.org/vlc/ – Can supposedly stream in Flash video format, but you have to download and compile a special version, and reports are mixed as to if it actually works. Just for the record though, VLC is a great media player, I use it instead of Windows Media Player every chance I get.
- Various services like Winamp Remote or Orb http://www.orb.com/orb/ that offer the ability to stream media from your home computer to anywhere the internet reaches. But I don’t want to stream it to the ends of the earth, I only want to get it to my TV. Having an audio/video stream go out over the internet to get to the other side of my living room is a waste of bandwidth, and seems very likely to cause performance issues.
- And various other optimistically named “Media Center” type softwares, none of which actually can handle the “video” part of “media” yet.
Well, this eve I stumbled upon a fairly elegant solution… TVersity. http://tversity.com/ And having tried it, I find myself saying “Why doesn’t everybody know about this?”
Setup was simple enough. I downloaded and ran the installer. When it offered to install codecs, I let it. Starting the application, the first thing I noticed is the interface is very simple… there are screenshots here: http://tversity.com/screenshots/
Simply add media to the media library to make it available. I started adding folders one by one, but found a nice shortcut… the app supports drag and drop. So open a windows explorer window, do a multi select, and drop it in. A black spinny thing on the right indicates the media database is being updated. Let it finish.
You’ll need to know your computer’s IP address. Find your local ip address by opening a command window on windows and typing “ipconfig”. Write down the IP address.
Now it’s a simple matter of browsing to your computer using the Wii. Lets say you found your IP address was 192.168.0.5 . Open up the internet channel, and enter the www address as follows: http://192.168.0.5:41952/flashlib and hit OK.
If all goes well, you should be connected to the media interface being served off your computer. Use the wii remote to click around. Clicking on a file will play it. TaDAAAA!
Success! Is it DVD quality? Probably not. Over our wireless connection, there was a bit of framerate degradation in action sequences, but otherwise video and sound quality was pretty good. Certainly acceptable for streamed video. No doubt a wired lan connection would fare better, and having a fast computer helps. I may decide the framerate thing annoys me at some point, and run a proper video/audio out cable, but for now I’m quite pleased.
This also means I can let Lorelei watch movies in her room on her PC, without having to transfer 800mb files around. The stream starts playing instantly.
All was not roses and glory though… in the process of getting this working I ran into two pitfalls, which I want to share.
One: when I ran the server, Windows firewall strangely permitted the wrong exe to have access. The firewall made an exception for “TVersity.exe”, but that isn’t the actual .exe of the streaming server. I had to manually browse for “MediaServer.exe” in the /Program Files/Tversity/Media Server/ folder and add it.
Two: I made the mistake of doing a Ctrl-Alt-Del and killing the TVersity.exe process when it was in the middle of updating the media library (I got impatient). This screws things up. Don’t do it. Upon restarting, I could no longer get files to add to the Media Library. I had uninstall, delete the old database files, and reinstall to get it going again. In retrospect I suspect it was just the db_lock file (or some such filename) that was the culprit, but I had already uninstalled the app by the time I found it.
Well, there ya go. Enjoy playing with your Wii. ;)