How to Stream Media without Buying Any More Gear

So, you'd love to get the movies, music, and photos from your laptop to your living room, but you don't want to buy another box, right? Well, If you have a game console, you're in luck. ZOMG IT'S SOOOO EASY.

Getting Started

Seriously, on a scale of one to ten, streaming from your console to your home theater stack clocks in at super freaking simple. All you need is a wireless router (which you probably have), a console (which we're also assuming you have), and 10 minutes of setup time (come on, you know you have that!). One of the newer Wireless-N jobs is your best choice for buttery smooth HD-streaming, but it's not a must have. Wireless-G will work, and an Ethernet cable is actually your best option for glitch- and interference-free streams. Everybody's got one of those. OK, let's get to this.

Xbox 360

How to Stream Media without Buying Any More Gear

The Xbox 360 plays really nicely with Windows (surprise!). When you combine the 360 with Windows 7's Windows Media Center, the Xbox 360 gets complete access to all the content on your PC, and can pipe it right into your TV. The 360 mirrors the same front end of your PC's Windows Media Center, and videos, photos, and music all plays as easily as it does on your machine.

But you don't just have to stick with PC—the 360 streams great with your Mac too. You'll need Vuze, a free, third-party streaming software (that's also a bittorrent client), to get it working, but there's actually an advantage to using Vuze: it converts any file to the proper format, meaning you can watch video codecs and formats that aren't officially supported by Microsoft. There may be some buffering time, but it's worth it for the ability to watch the movies you get from alternative, legally gray areas of the internet. The Windows Media Center solution, on the other hand, is limited to the file formats Microsoft officially supports.

•What you can do Stream music, movies, or photos from your computer to your home theater stack
•What you'll need
An Xbox 360, A PC with Windows 7 or Windows Media Center or a Mac running Vuze, and a home network
•Setup time
About 7 minutes if you have WMC (Xbox is, after all, a Microsoft product), or up to 10 minutes if you're working with Vuze

Here's how to set up your Xbox 360 as a Windows Media Center Extender:
• Fire up your 360 and go to the My Xbox Channel
• Select the "Windows Media Center" option (should be the 7th tab)
• Go through basic setup and it will display an 8-digit setup key—write that down.
• Head over to your PC, start up Windows Media Center and click Tasks > Add Extender
• Punch in the code
• Congratulations! You have now infected your living room with Internet porn.

And here's how to make Vuze work with your Xbox 360:
• Download Vuze here and install it
• Turn On "Devices" in the left panel of Vuze
• Turn on your Xbox 360 (an Xbox 360 icon should now pop up under "Devices" in Vuze)
• Drag and drop the video file you want to play to the Xbox 360 icon
• Go to the My Xbox Channel on your 360
• Select the Video Library tab on your Xbox 360 and select Vuze as the source
• Find the movie you've just dropped in Vuze and stream away

How to Stream Media without Buying Any More Gear

How to Stream Media without Buying Any More Gear

PS3

How to Stream Media without Buying Any More Gear

Streaming to the PS3 is wonderfully simple on both PC and Mac. Why? Because of a lovely little piece of software called PS3 Media Server. It's free, open source, and ridiculously easy to use. PS3 Media Server transcodes videos on the fly, which means your PS3 can stream pretty much any file type known to man. That's great and all, but the best thing about it is that there's hardly any setup. Once you get PS3 Media Server running, all of your computer's files are on visible on your PS. There's no need to pre-designate specific folders for streaming purposes.

•What you can do
Stream music, movies, or photos from your computer to your home theater stack
•What you'll need
A PS3, a PC or Mac, and a home network
•Setup time
About 5 minutes

Here's how to set up PS3 Media Server:
• Download PS3 Media Server here and install it to your computer
• Turn on your PS3
• Open PS3 Media Server on your computer
• Click on the PS3 Media Server Icon under the videos tab on your PS3
• Find your movie (song or picture)
• Make popcorn

How to Stream Media without Buying Any More Gear

Wii

How to Stream Media without Buying Any More Gear

Given its lack of HD support, the Wii isn't exactly the most powerful streaming solution around. But if it's all you got, you can definitely turn it into a solid option. The key to Wii streaming using the Opera browser to access your computer's content. You'll be using a third party streaming service called Orb, because Orb has a lovely webapp that you only need a browser to access. When you head to Orb's website, you'll be brought to a rather snazzy app that's surprisingly easy-to-navigate with the Wiimote. Movies are played through Flash, and, even though it's just a webapp, Orb on the Wii gives you most of the functionality you'd get with using Orb on the Xbox 360 and PS3.

•What you can do
Stream music, movies, or photos from your computer to your Wii's Web browser
•What you'll need
A Wii, Orb, Opera's Wii Browser, and a home network
•Setup time
About 15 minutes

Here's how to get Wii to stream:
• Download Orb here and install it to your computer
• Set the folders you want Orb to access (i.e. your Movies folder)
• Go to the SHOP channel on your Wii and download Opera.
• Open Opera
• Head to mycast.orb.com and plug in your Orb login deets
• Choose the category you want to stream, and knock yourself out

How to Stream Media without Buying Any More Gear

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Special thanks to Leslie for this how to's inspiration.

If you've always wanted to learn how to do something but didn't know where to start, feel free to ask us how to here.