Setup Your PC as a Media Server for Your Console

If you have an MP3 player you probably have a nice library of digital music on your computer. You may even have a variety of videos and pictures. Personally, I have Zune Pass subscription, various home movies and a few digital copies of movies that come with DVDs. I also have a nice Logitech 5.1 surround sound speaker setup for PC gaming, but I don't like just sitting in my office listening to music and I have a better entertainment system in the living room with my consoles.

The solution? Setup your PC as a media server and connect your PS3, Xbox 360 or both to it and stream content to your TV.

This walkthrough will deal with Windows Media Player and the Zune software. It is possible to use others. You can also try out SimpleCenter. I haven't tried it, yet, but it looks nice.

In Windows Media Player 11:
  1. Toolbar -> Library -> Media Sharing
  2. Check "Share My Media"
On the console:
  1. Select "Scan for Media Servers". (same for both the PS3 and Xbox 360)
On the PC:
  1. Allow the connection from the unknown device (there should be a pop-up bubble).
If your console cannot connect and you didn't see a pop-up bubble, go to Media Sharing again and you should see an Unknown Device (PS3) or Xbox 360 listed with an exclamation point. Just click allow.

In the Zune software:
  1. Settings -> Software -> Sharing
  2. Follow the same steps for WMP 11
The Zune software won't require any special configuration to allow a connection. Just make sure that the checkboxes for sharing with an Xbox 360 are checked.

You will now be able to stream your content to the console for display on your TV. Obviously, your PC needs to be turned on...

A note to Zune users: You can also plug your Zune into your Xbox 360 with the Zune USB cable. Your Xbox 360 will pick it right up as a media source and allow you to play your music.

Update: I tried out SimpleCenter and it works great. It doesn't do anything extraordinary to make me use it over the Zune software or even WMP, but it has a very nice UI and media sharing is very simple. The setup was also straightforward and required almost no real interaction from me to import all of my music, pictures and videos into the SimpleCenter libraries.

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