Suggestions on devices that can stream both local and online videos to TV from PC?

Looking at the Chromecast announcement today, it reminded me that I really want to set up some sort of easy-to-use media center for my TV so that I can watch local video files (.avi, .mpeg, .mov, etc.) and otherwise stream online videos from sites like YouTube. I do have an HDTV, but it is not a SmartTV or anything.

Ideally, I want something that can either directly access my PC (which is in another room) wirelessly or else will act as its own miniature version with at least enough file system management so that I can plug a USB-key or portable HD into it and play files. I do not want to hook my laptop up to an HDMI port every time I want to watch such videos on the TV.

I searched Google for this, but it seems like there are an awful lot of useless/outdated articles that I’d prefer not to rely upon. Any tech savvy Dopers out there have a suggestion?


Lots of BluRay players can do what you’re asking. I have an LG (no longer sold) that does Netflix and some other stuff, plus can play stuff from a network or a hard drive or a thumb drive. Perhaps peruse LG’s latest offerings?

Roku might be able to do that. Search here as I know we’ve had a few threads about the wonders of Roku. I don’t know if it has youtube, though…

Our BluRay player does this. Also our Roku. The PS3 and XBox and Wii are capable. My computer does this with TWC, my iPad…

Pick your poison. Mostly via USB, though, but that could be because I’m too lazy/stupid to build a media center, which is certainly possible for central file sharing and pushing out to devices.

Raspberry PI media center with all your ripped files.

ETA - Amazon sells Raspberry Pi now.

These all sound like great suggestions guys. I didn’t realize that they’d started offering DVD/Blu-Ray players with such capabilities. The Raspberry PI also looks really interesting, so I think I’m going to do some additional research on that as well.

I think an AppleTV or the new Chromecast fits the bill.

I do it with my Roku but there may be caveats. First there’s a free YouTube channel that you can install from the Roku channel store (you download it via the Roku), so that’s simple.

Then there are various channels for streaming video from the network. I use a private channel (meaning that you install it from the web) named MyMedia Server. It requires a computer with Python to serve the files from (i use a Pogoplug running debian and a network drive), which may be outside the typical windows user’s comfort zone. I don’t know anything about the other servers. I’ve seen some that cost and some that are free, but I don’t know how hard they are to use or anything about their features.

Finally, check what filetypes Roku can handle. Old ones like mine only work with mp4 so I have to reencode everything. I think newer Rokus handle most common files but if your favorite file is, say, realmedia, you may be out of luck.

WDTV live is easy to set up, does Netflix, Hule and YouTube and can stream from PC, Mac or a NAS. So far, the only content I’ve found that the WDTV will not play is protected media, but that’s pretty standard.

Uh, I was wondering. I have an old TV (bought from Montgomery Ward) that still has a great picture and I’m too sentimental (cheap) to get rid of it. Are there any devices that will work with my TV, or should I accidentally throw it off of my balcony?

I don’t think “old TV” gives enough information. What are the inputs?

My Logitech Revue Smart TV box does well on online video, and can be set up to handle local network content. In my case, this did require setting up a media server app on one of the computers, but once I got that tweaked, it’s working fine.

Really? What’s it called? I don’t see it in the listing.

Hmm, maybe I’m wrong, it may have been a private channel. I didn’t really ever use it and am not sure if I still have it installed.

It’s not the cheapest option but I use a Mac Mini for this. It has the right form factor and at $600 it isn’t “extravagant.” There are a lot of devices that get really close to everything I wanted from a living room device, but none entirely fit the bill. That’s when I decided I’d just get a PC with the right form factor, but believe it or not unless you want to assemble yourself (which would be a pain in a small form factor case) there aren’t a lot of media center PC offerings that are cheaper than the Mac Mini. But the thing about any true PC connected to your TV is there is really nothing you can’t do on them. Enterprising people will make anything work on a desktop computer that you’d ever need for media consumption purposes.

I have an old Dell computer that I’ve installed 3T of hard drives in running Serviio plugged directly into my router. Anything connected to the network that supports DLNA streamed content can see and play the data files stored on it. This includes Blu-ray players, network enabled televisions, xbox, ps3, wii, and any computer with an app like xbmc installed.

Plex is a more polished and full featured server app, it just doesn’t support restricting content to specific devices. Serviio allow me to keep inappropriate content from showing up on the xbox in the game room. Sorry kiddies, no Hostel or Saw for you tonight.

There was a private youtube channel that google made them pull. If you had the channel you got to keep it but no new ones can be installed.