Ways to View/Listen to Media at Home

For the past year, I’ve been playing around with different methods of playing video, pictures and music in the living room.  I’ve got a Samsung LCD TV and home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) setup.  The DVD player/amplifier of the HTIB allows me to connect other devices to it, so I originally got my video game machines and a 2nd DVD player (purchased in MCS to play “deebeedees”) hooked up to it.

The Samsung DVD Player can play DivX/XviD files, so it can read these files via a burned DVD or through a USB thumbdrive.  This became my main method of watching shows, though it did have some quirks.  For some reason, if you pause a video and leave it paused for more than 2 minutes (my estimate), the video would stop.  You’d then have to restart the video from the beginning and fast forward to the part you left off.  This became quite annoying after a while.

The MCS DVD player also can play DivX/Xvid files, and also had the option to use either a DVD or a USB thumbdrive.  However, the interface was quite clunky — it would arrange files by alphabetical order, and can only support a few characters, which meant it would abbreviate long file names.

A few months ago, Microsoft and Sony updated the firmware of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 respectively, so now both boxes can play DivX/XviD files, again either through a burned DVD or thumbdrive, but now with the added option of network streaming!

Yes, this means you can really geek out and setup your PC/laptop as a media server, and you can stream video, pictures, and music using your home network. The main advantage of this is that you don’t have to wait for your computer to finish burning a DVD or copying files to a thumbdrive.  The disadvantage is you’ll have to leave your computer on for the duration you’re viewing/listening to your media.

I’ve had decent performance from my home network, which basically consists of a Wifi-G router.  However, every now and then I experience lag while streaming — I’m not sure if it’s because of signal interference, or if it’s time to upgrade to a Wifi-N network.  🙂

So what’s the point to all of this?  It’s a pretty cool time to geek out if you’re a computer geek or home theater geek; the problem still remains though that these viewing options are still over the head of your casual consumer.  Bottom line, if your mom doesn’t know how to use any of these viewing options, then the technology (and user friendliness) still has a way to go.  But I think it won’t be too long before we’ll get mass acceptance of this technology, and then we’ll really have some fun!  🙂