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You May Own a Streamer and Not Know It
If you own a game console or TiVo box, you're ready to start streaming media from your PC today.
TiVo's free Desktop software for Windows lets your TiVo box stream .mp3 and photo files, but to send movie files to your TiVo, you'll need additional software like TiVo's $25 Desktop Plus or the unofficial but free TiVo.Net package. The latter is trickier to install, but it can transcode video formats on the fly. Series2 and Series3 TiVo boxes can search for, and download, movies from Amazon's Unbox service, too.
Nintendo's Wii can play .mp3 files and display photos via its SD Card slot, but the alpha version of Red Kawa's free Wii Media Center X server software streams files from your PC wirelessly. The company also provides free tools for converting videos into the Wii's preferred .flv (Flash) format. Though Red Kawa, Orb Networks, and other developers have equivalent software for Sony's PlayStation 3, a recent firmware update for that console now lets it stream nonprotected music, movies, and photos from networked PCs running a DLNA media server such as Windows Media Player 11. And this is cool: PlayStation Portable (PSP) owners at a Wi-Fi hotspot can now use the PSP's Remote Play feature to stream content from their PC at home, via their Internet-connected PlayStation 3.
Then there's Microsoft's Xbox 360, including the new HDMI-equipped Elite model reviewed on page 57. The 360's own Media Center interface mirrors and seamlessly syncs with Windows Media Center-equipped PCs, allowing you to stream music, video, and photos--and to schedule and stream TV recordings if the PC has a TV tuner. The revamped Xbox Live Marketplace even has some TV and movie downloads in high definition. Finally, Microsoft plans to let partners offer Xbox 360 users live and on-demand, high-definition Internet TV (IPTV) by early 2008.
This story, "Best Products to Stream Audio and Video With Ease" was originally published by PCWorld.