Playstation media server reviews – best software packages for 2011

Whether you have a Sony Playstation 3 or a XBOX 360 gaming console, you might want to know what is the best playstation media server around. In today’s article we’ll take a look at what is available, whether they are free or paid and the degree of compatibility each playstation media server has with the multitude of video codecs available and of course with the specific codecs supported natively by each console.
Let’s begin with the facts: None of game consoles available on the market (and I am talking about XBOX 360 and PS3, Wii doesn’t really qualify for any media streaming activities) can support direct access to the network shares. Both XBOX 360 and PS3 support some kind of DLNA implementation, although the XBOX 360 one is fairly crippled. Because of this crippled implementation various playstation media servers had to be tweaked and only few of them are compatible with both consoles.

Software playstation media servers

1.1 TVersity

Compatibility: Windows only both workstation and server edition, 32 and 64 bit versions

Transcoding: Yes

TVersity is the best media server in my opinion, and certainly the most popular, with millions of downloads. Its development began several years ago and currently it is very stable. It has two versions, the basic one is free and it provides real-time transcoding for every coded available (you’ll need a codec pack installed on the media server PC).

I am currently using TVersity on my media server and it is compatible with both PS3 and XBOX 360. You’ll need a fast QUAD Core computer if you intend to do real time 1080p transcoding, but Quad Core nowadays are getting more common than before.

TVersity can also be configured to work with other DLNA devices as well, and with several tweaks it is compatible with my Blu-ray Samsung BD-C6500 / Samsung BD-C6500.

The TVersity free version supports YouTube, Google Video and Flickr, and of course all the audio / video codecs available.

The TVersity Pro version is priced at $39.99 and adds the capability of watching premium Internet content on the TV, and iPhone/iPad devices as well as local content (transcoding included). The online content include Hulu, ESPN, CNN, CBS, NBC, YouTube Movies and Full Episodes, National Geographic, etc.

1.2 PS3 Media Server

Compatibility: Windows / Linux / Mac

Transcoding: Yes

Very popular among Sony Playstation 3 users, PS3 Media Server is a DLNA compliant UPnP media server that initially supported PS3 and did it well. It can be extended to support multiple DLNA compatible devices using configuration files (in a similar manner with TVersity) and it is quite stable. There has been a development gap for about a year but it looks like it started again around Feb 21st 2010 and a new stable version is currently in the work.

PS3 media Server is free and has also a very large codec support. It currently supports both Playstation 3 and XBOX 360 together with a large variety of DLNA compatible devices.

1.3 PlayOn

Compatibility: Windows only both workstation and server edition, 32 and 64 bit versions

Transcoding: Yes

PlayOn is the most expensive among playstation media servers and the first to bring Netflix streaming to everybody. It doesn’t stream high definition though but it offers the largest number of premium internet stations / services from all the playstation media servers tested. Among the supported channels, you can find YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, ESPN 3, Pandora, Comedy Central, CBS, ESPN, Spike, Nick, BET, SyFy, PBS, MTV, TBS, Cartoon Network.

The premium version comes at various prices, from $39.99 annual subscription, $4.99 monthly or $79.99 one time payment. It is a good way to get rid of your cable subscription and the premium version also works on iPhone, iPad, Roku players, Android 2.2 and up (requires Flash), etc.

Beside web content, PlayOn also offers local content playback (although for now labeled as experimental). It works well enough but their DLNA implementation is not perfectly compatible with many devices.

1.4 Plex Media Server

Compatibility: Mac / Windows

Transcoding: Yes

Plex Media server is a relatively new player on playstation media server market but fairly ambitious. Initially implemented on MAC OS platform, it migrated recently to Windows although Windows server has significantly less features than its MAC counterpart which provides over 150 online video, music and photo sources. The most popular are Netflix, Hulu, CNN, NBC, Food network, HGTV, Revision 3, Vimeo, YouTube, etc.

One of the selling points for Plex Media Server is its iOS / Android compatibility and it is the first such application to bring Netflix / Hulu to Android smartphones. Recently, Plex announced a partnership with LG to offer a client /server combination capable to beat AppleTV / Boxee Box and other current media streamers.

It is important to mention again that Plex Media Server Windows version is severely crippled and lack most of the cool web clients its MAC version has including Netflix and Hulu. I also experienced stability issues with the server application shutting down unexpectedly. The test PC was a fresh Windows 7 install, Quad Core and 8GB RAM.

1.5 Honorable mentions

Beside the most popular playstation media servers mentioned, there are a multitude of software applicatins on the market with similar features, including DLNA streaming and/or transcoding like “360 media server”, MediaTomb, MythTv with UPnP, Twonky Media Server, Windows media Connect, etc

 

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