Sunday, July 13, 2008

Streaming Video to your Home Theater via your Home LAN

I was just talking about the possibility of viewing DivX movies over the network last week with the announcement of DivX Connected. Well, it seems that there are other consumer electronic products already in the market which specifically targets this genre.

For those using Windows Media Center on their PC's, the Linksys DMA2x00 allows media files residing on your PC to be "extended" to your TV or home theater. It acts as a gateway between the PC world via an ethernet connection, and the TV/home theater world via standard audio and video connectors like HDMI, S-Video, RCA video plugs and component video. It also comes with Wifi connectivity, but users are cautioned with the quality of the stream if you are on standard 802.11G. The relatively low (54mbps) speed will cause high-definition video to jitter. A wired connection is still best. But if Wifi is really a must, then at least go with 802.11N.

If you are not running Windows Media Center on your PC (I think Win XP does not have this feature), the NetGear EVA8000 may be a better choise. Its a more generic gateway implementation. It reads your media file via the standard network shared folders of your home network; stream it over the network; then output it to your TV or projector.

The EVA8000 is still pretty much a bleeding-edge/first generation product. So don't expect a bug-free experience. This review from C-Net shows that it required several reboots in their test cases. The product specs are also still a bit conflicting. In some articles, it says the EVA8000 supports DivX. In others, its not mentioned.

I mentioned in my blog entry last month that my Philips DVDR3455H Player can play AVI. I found out this weekend that it seems to be picky on the kind of AVI file it will play. I was able to download the BBC Planet Earth series via BitTorrent. The AVI files are in 720p HD format and each were about 2.2GB in size. When I tried converting it to DivX, my DivX Converter gets an error midway. So I burnt it onto a DVD disk as AVI and tried to play it on my Philips DVDR player. It just keeps causing the player to reboot! So I guess to view these types of files, I would rely on products like those above to watch it on TV or projector.

Still, I look forward to having players in the future like my Philips DVDR to have network ports and do their own streaming directly from the network so that I don't have to buy a 3rd party gateway to do that work.

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