How can I stream video from my home server to my HDTV?
Question by Aibek Esengulov /

I have a Samsung HDTV at home and would like to know if there is anything I can do to stream movies from my home media server. The TV has a USB port, but comes without wireless support.

I was wondering if there are any USB Wireless devices or hardware I can use to be able to wirelessly stream media from my home server through WiFi. Other suggestions are welcome as well.

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Answers (23)
  • Dalsan

    https://www.miniand.com/products/MiniX%20TV%20Box%20H24
    Which is the Mini X device that is a little larger with wifi antenna and b/g/n capabilities. It is similar in specs as the one you looked at and the MK802 I suggested. I would rather the next device, though.

    or

    http://www.fxitech.com/products/
    Which is the Cotton Candy device. More powerful with Android and Linux on it.However, it is not out yet (end of summer), and due to cost $199.
    More could be seen here: http://www.engadget.com/2012/02/29/hands-on-with-fxi-cotton-candy-at-mwc-video/?m=false and http://www.geeky-gadgets.com/fxi-cotton-candy-mini-pc-ships-this-month-with-new-design-video-15-05-2012/

  • Kannon Y

    Hello Aibek!

    I’m assuming you want to do this with an easily obtainable device that you probably already have on hand, along with free software? Do you have access to an Android or iOS device with MicroHDMI out? I’m guessing that you do.

    You could easily combo these with Plex (costs money), or VLC Streamer (I have no idea how it sets up).

    Plex is supposed to be the easiest to use, but at $5 (IMO too much for an Android app) there’s just too much competition. VLC Remote, for example, does practically the same thing with just a little more effort setting it up.

    There’s a variety of solutions for the iOS, as well, but the total cost goes up once you consider the proprietary HDMI out cable on a lot of their devices. Whereas with Android, there’s primarily just the MicroHDMI cable.

    There’s also some alternatives to Plex, but I know little of them. Hopefully there’s something in this post that you can use. Good luck!

    • Kannon Y

      I almost forgot – there’s a variety of mini-PC, set-top (sorta) devices that would stream from a home server – many of them are quite inexpensive, such as the Android 4.0 Mini-PC:

      http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/74-android-mini-computer-hits-the-market-updates/

    • Aibek Esengulov

      Hey Kannon,

      Thanks for the input, that 74$ Android looks interesting. Not sure how I missed it on MUO. Off to check it out.

    • Kannon Y

      You may have missed it because over the past few years there’s been a slew of poorly designed, overheating Android/Linux devices. Recently, the market has changed tremendously. Many newer Android devices, with access to the Google Play app environment, allow consumers to go from opening a box to streaming media in minutes.

      More than likely, you’re looking to decode media at 1080p with a decent framerate – in which case, the mini-PC serves your purposes quite effectively

      In case you are interested, there are other devices out there (although the mini-PC is probably the best) that include media streaming solutions. For example, Tim Brookes wrote a great article about the potential uses for the Raspberry Pi, which can get XBMC on it.

      However, ever since the amazing Navi-X app got ported to Android, I don’t see many reasons to buy a device for only XBMC, although XBMC is also outstanding software.

    • Aibek Esengulov

      Thanks for the links. I checked that MiniPC on Tom’s Hardware and noticed that it only supports 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi connectivity. As far as I am aware that wouldn’t be enough to stream BluRay content. Any ideas?

  • Perry Kahai

    Aibek,

    There are a multitude of ways that media servers can be configured (operating system, DLNA-compliant) coupled with the format videos are stored in (MKV, native DVD, native Blu-ray). Could you please give me the following information?

    1. Operating system used on server
    2. Format videos are stored in
    3. Router brand and model

    Knowing these will make my job a bit easier.

    • muotechguy

      None of that will actually help – it’s the TV that’s the problem. It doesnt have wireless support, and doesnt sound like a smart TV. Therefore, Aibek needs an external box, as other answers have mentioned – Roku, Apple TV, or similar.

    • Soul of Wit

      You are ignoring the additional need for server-based software. The OP wants to stream from server to the TV. The combination of a $50 Roku LT, the Plex client app for the Roku and the Plex server (multi-platform) for the computer will likely be all that the OP needs. The Plex server will transcode any video that the Roku cannot handle. Recent improvements to the software have eliminated any complaints that I once had.

      More expensive set top boxes allow for ethernet connections, but the OP stated that he wants to stream via wi-fi. The Roku connects to the TV (and/or audio receiver) with a HDMI cable.

    • Perry Kahai

      Let me explain why I think the information I asked will help. First, there are a multitude of boxes like Roku (with the one by Vizio the latest addition). Each has its own way of “pulling” information from a media server.

      I have a simple set-up at home: Windows Home Server 2011 (which, by the way, is being discontinued by Microsoft); Windows 7 computer with Media Center connected to a TV with an HDMI cable. Windows 7 will play almost any format of video with the right codecs. In addition, it has another feature that many may not be aware of: it will play DVD and Blu-Ray disks and rips in their native format. No need to convert to MKV or another format. Thus, when playing a movie from a media server, all functions work as they would from the disc. It is no wonder that people in industry think and know that Windows Media Center is a hidden gem. It is likely that, in the future, we will have more boxes like the Acer Revo (http://us.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/series/revo70) to replace Media Center PCs.

      Now, back to the issue of boxes. Each box has its requirements about what format it will play. Until this time, I have not seen a box like Roku, Western Digital, or other popular ones play DVD or Blu-Ray rips in their native format. Movies / videos HAVE to be converted to some format before they can be streamed by these boxes.

      If the Media Server is DLNA-compliant, then one can use many of the commercially available Blu-Ray players to stream movies . . . no need for the box! Once again, most Blu-Ray players I have seen do NOT support playing rips in their native formats.

      So, Aibek is going to need a box / Blu-Ray player for sure. But, just buying a box without knowing what formats it can play, and what format videos are stored on the Media Server, he will be in for a heartache. Another issue that will come-up is the connectivity. Does the TV have a free component video / HDMI input (HDMI is needed if one wants to watch 1080p videos)?

      Finally, the router. To stream 1080p content, one has to have a good N router, preferably a router that is made to specifically stream media content. And, the router should be in clear view of the box to prevent disruptions in signals. Yes, I know, signals travel through walls but my extensive experience has made me wary of those claims. The slightest of things can cause Wi-Fi signals to be disrupted. Which is why, when I built my home 11 years ago, I wired it for network connectivity throughout the house.

      Hopefully, I have touched all bases for Aibek to now be able to set-up his equipment. ALSO, nothing personal against MUOTECHGUY or anyone else who has responded. I have always learned from others and am sure that I will have a lot to learn from you all.

    • muotechguy

      Funnily enough, I also have an identical setup. However, with the announcement yesterday, I’m getting rid of any trace of windows in the house. We’ve been abandoned, plain and simple. I wrote an article about it today actually; expect it to be published next week if you’d like to take a quick read.

      Anyway, thanks for elaborating on the response, I think Aibek will probably find this the best answer!

    • Aibek Esengulov

      Are you getting rid of Windows Media Server as well?
      If so, what are you going to use instead?

    • muotechguy

      “Windows Media Server”? there’s home server, and windows media center, but yes. Both.

      I’ll replace backups with a time machine, I think. Media center maybe a mac mini, or my old macbook pro, though it struggles a little with 1080p. For a media “server”, I’ll setup one of the pcs as a hackintosh with a few terabytes of space. i wont be able to do 3d gaming anymore, but maybe ill a playstation for that, or just wait for xbox 720 which will do 3d gaming apparently. i actually rarely game that much anymore; if i’m not watching movie, i’m answering emails!

    • PerryKahai

      Microsoft has plans to support Windows Home Server 2011 until 2016. But, you are correct, we have been abandoned, although I believe a lot can happen in 4 years.

      Thanks for your compliment . . . I think Aibek has a good amount of information from all of us that should help him.

    • PerryKahai

      Please do share the article link. I would love to read it.

    • Aibek Esengulov

      Thanks Perry,

      Very informative reply. I learned quite lot from this thread). It seems that my TV isn’t a Smart TV and needs an external device to extend its capabilities. It does have several HDMI slots though. I will look into each of recommended devices above…

      That being said, after reading your comments I am thinking that rather than buying an external device like Roku it might be better to use a netbook (with Windows Media Server on it). I guess the only requirement would be that netbook has an HDMI port.

    • Dalsan

      I have an Acer Aspire AO722 netbook with the C-60 AMD processor that streams 1080p perfectly. It needed some tweaking, but the APU is little lacking for using anything that requires Silverlight. The Intel Atom processors does better at Silverlight than AMD C and E series APUs, but 1080p streaming can stutter some with the Atoms. I am more than pleased with my netbook as I am able to play plenty of games that the Atom processors would not run very well, like Burnout Paradise and some Need got Speed. HTPC’s are great because you can stream just about anything, then browse the real web, and even do light gaming.

      On another note, TVersity also allows you to stream over the web to devices, which may be an extra advantage to you instead of using cloud services that offer limited space. You can use TVersity along side with other media streaming software services for extra compatibility and features, and should one fail for some reason, the other is there for backup. Nothing worse than wanting to stream something just to find out that you have to fix it before you can.

  • Dalsan

    There are many media streaming devices like Roku that you can get for that. You connect it to the tv through HDMI, and can receive streaming content from your computer or the internet. Some can be found for around $50, others are above $150. You can use media share built into your computer operating system, or use TVersity from http://www.TVersity.com so you can stream it to more devices easily, from gaming systems to cell phones.

    • DalSan Mack

      Using TVersity will allow most media formats to be streamed as it has built in Transcoding out of the box, so to speak. The only transcoding it does not do is to Apple devices, as you would have to pay for the pro version. I stream all the time to my

    • DalSan Mack

      satellite receiver with whole house dvr to watch on my standard definition televisions, stream to other pc’s, cell phones, game systems, etc. There are plenty of other media server software you could use, but I suggested TVersity as it is versatile, free, and often overlooked. There are plenty of devices you could choose from, from game systems, dvd/blu-ray players, streaming boxes, TiVO dvr systems, etc., but all I am suggesting is a cheaper alternative to the expensive and harder to setup devices and software. You could even get an android 4.0 stick device (MK 802) that you can use to plug into your tv to even use your tv for a better than smart tv experience for less than $80. It all depends on your wants and needs, and this is where the others here were trying to get at.

    • Aibek Esengulov

      Hey Dalsan,

      Thanks for detailed reply, I will check out both Roku and TVersity (it does seem to offer exactly what I am after).

    • Aibek Esengulov

      thanks hal4, I am not sure if my TV is internet ready as I don’t see any ethernet port. I will check the documentation to be sure though