Network Video Players

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Server software
We’ve tested the video streamers with their
own software and Windows Media Connect,
but there are other options open to you. Take TVersity, which is a completely free media server, available from

Not only has it shown itself to be more reliable than most of the other software we tested this month, but it’s also capable of doing more. For example, it can transcode video on-the-fly, so even if your video streamer doesn’t support a particular video format chances are TVersity can transcode it to a format it does support. This is done on-demand, so there’s no need to convert the file before playing it. It’s great news for devices like the Xbox 360, which can’t handle XviD or DivX files, even when acting as a Media Center Extender.

Of course, the quality of the transcoded video will depend on the power of the PC that TVersity is running on. You can alter the resolution of the converted video and adjust it until you find the optimal setting for your system. You need a dual-core CPU for HD video.

TVersity isn’t just limited to video and music, either. It can also play internet radio, internet TV, podcasts and RSS/RDF/ATOM feeds on your TV using your video streamer. It’s fast when it searches through large libraries and it also supports keywords, too.

Serving without a PC
If the media streamers on test have a flaw, it’s that they require a networked computer to be left on at all times. If you’re storing all your media on a notebook, it won’t be available if someone takes it away from the house.

The alternative is to use a NAS (network attached storage) drive that
has a UPnP media server built in. Most NAS drives come with UPnP media server, and the whole device will consume far less power than a PC or notebook. If the NAS drive has a DLNA logo, it’s also UPnP compatible.

The A-Listed Maxtor Shared Storage II is one example of an UPnP NAS drive. The 1TB version costs $561 from and, as it uses a RAID1 disk array, all your data is backed up automatically. It can also play protected AAC files, as it’s an iTunes server. We can also recommend Synology’s DS-106 and DS-207 barebones NAS drives, having used them as media servers for over 12 months.

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This Group Test appeared in the March, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine

See more about:  network  |  video  |  players

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