I’ve had a PlayStation3 for about 3 years now, and most of the time I use it to watch TV shows and movies rather than play video games.
I bought it for Metal Gear Solid 4, but once I was done with that many of the games just didn’t catch my interest.
They both worked, but they weren’t free -both are about $20. That’s pretty cheap, but I wanted to see what I could do for free. That’s when I found MediaTomb, a free Open Source media server that would work with my Mac and my PS3.
The only thing is, even though you don’t spend money on MediaTomb, you do pay a price…in sweat. It’s not for the faint of heart to get this thing up and running. There’s a lot of Terminal action to deal with, so many will just pony up the $20 and move on. Not me, though – I was too stubborn.
I dug through the net, trying to find a decent, comprehensive guide to intalling MediaTomb. I found this:
I had to do a little tweaking (make sure to read through the comments on that page) but I got it going. What followed were about 2 years of bliss. Whenever I wanted to watch a video stored on my Mac on my TV, I’d just fire up MediaTomb and then stream it over my network wirelessly to my PS3.
It was pretty easy (once it was set up). My normal plan of attack was to start up MediaTomb, then copy the files over to my PS3 (fast-foward and rewind didn’t work so well over wireless streaming). No problem.
UNTIL…the big Sony firmware debacle of 2010. I waited a long time to upgrade to this one, not because I cared about the features they removed, but because I didn’t really need to login to the PlayStation Network.
When I finally did, my worst fears were realized -the firmware update BROKE something, namely Mediatomb. Crap.
After I made that update, my PS3 would not recognize Mediatomb at all, no matter what I tried. And so an era ended. Silent tears were cried.
Since then I’d been moving my files over with a USB stick. Very annoying. Then if I’d forget my drive somewhere I’d have to burn the files on DVD and waste a DVD. If I was out of DVD’s I was just screwed.
Or so I thought…
As I mentioned in a previous article, I usually stick with Transmission for my bittorrent needs. I used Vuze back when it was called Azureus, and I, like many others, found it to be a huge resource hog, so I dumped it.
But now I was ready to download it and try it out again. After installing it, I opened it up. It wasn’t immediately clear what was necessary to start up the Media Server functionality.
A quick glance at my PS3 told me that it started automatically. The Vuze icon popped up in my PS3 XMB (Cross Media Bar). Ok first step done.
So, how do I get the files transferring? It’s kind of odd. They recommend that you drag your files onto the “PS3” icon that sits under the “Devices” menu on the left sidebar. If it’s red, that means it’s connected, if it’s gray, then it’s not connecting yet.
When you drag a video onto the icon, you’ll get a screen asking you to “Select a Playback Device for this Video”. You can choose either HD or SD depending on if you have a hi-def file or not. I’ve found that the most important setting in this screen is down in the bottom right -the “Transcode” setting.
If you leave this alone, Vuze will probably start converting/transcoding your file. Depending on how big it is, this is gonna cost you time, possibly a lot. The thing to do here is to set this to “Never”. Choose this BEFORE you pick the HD or SD preference.
On the left there’s a checkbox to “Remember this setting”. Do NOT check this. All it’s doing here is remembering your HD/SD setting, NOT your Transcode setting.
If you set this, you won’t see that window anymore, and Vuze will Transcode your files at will. Some will fly, and others won’t so you’ll kind of be at the mercy of the program. To reset the preference and get that window back, you’ll need to right-click on the PS3 icon in the sidebar, then choose Default Profile>Ask Every Time.
I know it seems like an annoyance but trust me it’ll be far more annoying when Vuze starts converting your videos unnecessarily.
Anyway, you can drag in your music files, too. I’ve never ran into a music file in my library that had to be converted yet, but there may be some. I’m not an audiophile so I have some pretty basic formats.
I had the hardest time trying to get my photos over. Vuze kept trying to transcode my photos. Come on, man. You’d think as sophisticated as this program is, it could at least be smart enough to recognize file types and not try to transcode a jpg, but no.
So you have to be ready for that and choose the “Never” option as described above.
You can drag in a bunch of photos at a time (drag them onto the PS3 icon). That same HD/SD screen will pop up. Make sure you choose “Never” for Transcode option, and you’ll see that Vuze still “converts” the files, but I’m not sure if it’s resizing them or what. It doesn’t try to change the format, though, and they’ll show up when you browse for them on your PS3.
If you accidentally leave it on Transcode, then you’ll get an error that says something like “Error: Transcode failed, No video stream found”.
This actually stumped me for two days. I asked about it on the official Vuze forums, but there wasn’t even one reply. At first I thought it must not be possible or it was too difficult. Then I realized it was just so easy that no one could be bothered to answer it. Oh well…
Now, actually transferring a bunch of files can be slow as hell depending on your router/network speed. I have a fairly low-rent D-Link router. Transferring 2GB of files actually took almost 2 hours. Wow. I should have just stopped it and transferred it by USB but at that point I just wanted to see how long it would take. Your network speed may fare better.
I don’t use Vuze for anything but the occasional transfer, but it sure feels good to have that option on my PS3 again.