Programs to Turn Your PC into a Streaming Media Center. After I bought my i. Pad, I realized I don’t really use my laptop as much anymore.
Windows 10 64 bit / Windows 10 / Windows 2008 64 bit / Windows 2008 / Windows 8 64 bit / Windows 8 / Windows 7 64 bit / Windows 7 / Windows Vista 64 bit / Windows Vista. Evolve Your Living Room with a DLNA HDTV and Windows Media Player. What Media Center Software Do You Use? It's no secret that we love dedicated media centers here at Lifehacker. But, with all the Read more. Just in case you are wondering, if you have the Base edition of Windows 8, you can get Windows Media Center by getting the Windows 8 Pro Pack, which will.
This means that I really use my desktop a lot a less! Unfortunately my desktop, which has some decent specs, is in sleep mode most of the time. I thought this was a little sad and a waste of money, so I decided to do some research and figure out some way to utilize it. Previously, I wrote about how you can install Windows 8 on an older PC to revitalize it and that’s something that I did with my desktop. Also, I previously had written about how to automate your computer when you’re not using it to perform certain tasks.
In addition to accomplishing these two tasks, I wanted the desktop to be even more useful! After a few days of testing and playing around with software, I can now happily stream music and videos to any web browser or to my smartphone while not being at home!
Since my desktop has some extra hard drives, I even turned it into a NAS also using some free software. Now I can FTP into my server to download/upload files and I can even use it for Time Machine backups for my Mac.
So here’s a list of programs you can use to convert your boring old PC into something a little more useful. Free. NASI bought a Synology DS4. II and even though I’m very happy with it, I realized I can pretty much do everything I want by just installing open- source software onto my desktop! One of the coolest programs out there that I had always heard about, but never used until now, was Free. NAS. It’s basically exactly what its name says: a free NAS OS for your PC, Mac or Linux box. It’s a very capable and powerful OS that also supports additional features via plugins.
I was amazed at what I was able to do with this software. Note that if you use Free. NAS on a computer, you really can’t use that computer for anything else. Some of the other programs I mention below run inside Windows.
Kodi (formerly known as XBMC) is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub that can be installed on Linux, OSX, Windows.
Free. NAS is it’s own OS and manages all the hard drives installed on the computer, etc. Another thing to note that Free.
NAS is that it’s really useful if you have a desktop with several hard drives and a at least 4 GB of RAM. The hard drives don’t have to be super fast or giant in size, but the whole point of using Free. NAS is to store files and then to either stream those files or utilize them in some other way.
To get your started on your way, check out these Free. NAS guide articles from Lifehacker and Engadget. They walk you through all the steps to setup the NAS and how to setup all the extra functionality like streaming, downloading and more. XBMCOne of the best ways to convert a computer into a media center. XBMC is an open- source project that can pretty much play all of the popular audio and video formats. It can even play direct DVD and Blu- ray rips, which is really nice. You can stream any of your media around your house or across the Internet.
You can also control the whole gig with a remote control and enjoy a ton of additional features with their large set of add- ons. XBMC is absolutely awesome, but you get the max benefit if you have a small desktop. I have two desktop, one a giant Dell and another one is a smaller newer HP desktop. I decided to use the HP desktop and connect it to my HDTV at home running XBMC. It works great, but I realized I could not have done it unless I had that smaller desktop. If you have an older desktop that is fairly large, then you might want to try one of the other program mentioned below. PS3 Media Server.
PS3 Media Server is a client application you install onto your PC like XBMC, but unlike XBMC, you access all the content via streaming. XBMC can stream too, but it’s mostly meant to be connected to your TV since it has a software front- end. PS3 Media Center was originally designed to stream media to just the PS3, but it now supports a whole lot of devices including the x. Box 3. 60, Sony Bravia TVs, Android devices, Samsung TVs, Boxee box and even XMBC Media Center.
PS3 Media Server also has quite a few plugins so you can add extra content and channels to your streaming options. It’s quite popular amongst home- streaming junkies and that’s why I listed it here. TVersity. TVersity is another good choice for media streaming. It used to be free, but now it seems you have to buy a license. You can get one for $4 or pay $2.
Pro license. The Pro version basically lets you subscribe to premium online content like Hulu, NFL, CNN, etc. If you have your own videos and you just want them streamed around the house, then the standard license for $4 is worth it. What’s neat about the Pro version is that you can stream Internet video streams from TVersity to an Xbox 3. This used to be more useful because you could subscribe to CNN, for example, through TVersity and watch it on the TV that your Xbox 3.
However, Xbox has added a lot of content recently and you can pretty much watch whatever you want using the built- in apps. Still, TVersity is great for streaming videos to other devices. Subsonic. For audiophiles with huge music collections, Subsonic is the best way to stream your music all over the place! Subsonic can automatically resample songs that are streaming over the Internet to a bitrate that will prevent songs from skipping or stop playing. What’s awesome about Subsonic is that they have apps for Android, i.
OS, Windows Phone 7, Roku and lots more. Also, in addition to streaming music, it can stream video as well.
However, this program is best suited for music streaming. VLC Media Player. Not only does VLC Media Player play just about any music or video file you can throw at it, but it also lets you stream music and videos locally over the network or over the Internet!
I really never knew this even though I’ve been using the program for 5 years now! Check out the How- to- Geek’s guide to setting up streaming using VLC. It’s not anything fancy, but it gets the job done and since most people already have it installed, it might be worth checking out.
Orb. Orb has been around for a long time and their products are pretty cool. Orb Caster is a personal media server that not only lets you stream your videos and music, but also can stream live TV if you have a TV tuner card installed on your PC.
They also have a Orb Live, which includes apps for the i. Phone, i. Pad and Android devices so that you can stream anything from Orb Caster to your mobile device, including live TV. You can basically use Orb as a Sling.
Box in some respects. So these are 7 awesome programs that you can use to convert an idle PC into a streaming media server that you can then use to access your music and videos anywhere in the world. It will take a weekend to figure out which program you want to use and to setup everything, but it’s definitely worth the time.
How to Get Netflix & Internet TV Back in Windows 7 Media Center if They’re Missing. If you use Windows 7 Media Center and suddenly find that Netflix and Internet TV is missing from the main menu, it can be quite annoying. Here are some fixes that should help you get these options back. If you uninstall a TV Tuner Card or install an unstable Add- on, it sometimes makes WMC unstable or you’ll suddenly find your Netflix and Internet TV options are missing. In this example we had Netflix & Internet TV installed and working successfully, but after removing the TV Tuner Card and swapping out the Video Card the options disappeared. If this happens to you, one of the easier fixes is to launch Media Center and go to Tasks > > Settings > > General > > then Automatic Download Options.
Now in the Automatic Download Options screen click on Download Now. A message will appear in the lower left hand corner of the screen. While the updates are downloading, you’ll see a small Media Center download icon in the Notification Area on the Taskbar. The amount of time it takes will vary depending on your connection speed. When it completes click OK and restart Media Center.
If everything works correctly you should see your Netflix and Internet TV options back in the main menu. If that doesn’t work you can use some Command Line magic to get everything back. Click on the Start Menu > > All Programs > > Accessories.
Now enter in the following commands at the prompt. Make sure to wait for the process to complete. This is the method that worked best on our Windows 7 Ultimate 6. Netflix and Internet TV were both restored successfully. If neither of these methods work, you may want to check the types of 3rd party add- ons you might have installed, try uninstalling them and see if you can get it back.
If you’re a fan of Windows 7 Media Center hopefully these tips will work for you. If you’ve ran into the same problem and have found other fixes, leave a comment and let us know!