Tuesday, 8 January 2008

TVersity - Wii Streaming

I mentioned that I had started to look at streaming video from my PC to the Nintendo Wii in an earlier post.

Well I downloaded TVersity, installed and played around a bit with it. I also needed to download the Opera browser for the Wii, cost around £3.50 from the Wii Shopping channel.

After around an hour of installing and faffing around, I managed to get select media on my PC showing on the Wii. I had an AVI file of the short series Hogfather on the PC, selecting it on the Wii was a simply matter of browsing a web server running on the PC.

The web server hides behind it the TVersity magic which is a flash encoder. This software reads a file on your PC, uses DirectShow (I think) to then re-encode the file into a flash based stream (like YouTube). The result is the ability to open any file from the PC for which you have a codec and set it up suitable for viewing in a simple open format.

TVersity is free, so really this all seemed to be too good to be true... and I found out it might be.

There are a few problems which prevent me actually using this to watch movies.

1. Something is causing the videos to stutter around 5/10 minutes into them. It may simply be that my PC is too slow or is running something which soaks up the bandwidth.
2. It's a real pain not to be able to fast forward a film. I tend to shut down the PC at night which means the encode process needs to start again. You can't fast forward into non-encoded video.
3. The actual frame rate is very similar to YouTube quality video. I'm finding it very painful to try to watch at 15 frames per second with all the real detail knocked out of the videos.

I probably have very unrealistic expectations of the setup given TVersity costs zilch.

The answer I think will be to upgrade the home PC. It's a lowly Athlon64 3Ghz wit 1Gb memory. Quad core seems the way to go here or really fast dual core.

So my adventures have paused for the moment until we get around to that job.

Meantime the setup does have a few nice tricks which I'll still make good use of.

- I can listen to my music in the living room by streaming it to the Wii. The sound quality is very good.
- Using the Wii browser I get a good experience browsing the web. Handy if the main PC is in use.
- The setup seems to cope OK with using TVersity to recode some of the videocasts I watch. Seeing these on the television from the sofa instead of a smaller monitor at the PC is a delight. Particularly for the ones which last a good hour (i.e. PodTech and Channel9 videos).

I'm also not abandoning hope that there is another method to do this. Maybe Nintendo will support AVI's and USB storage devices? Time to go Google...
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