I’ve been using a Media Server for sometime to view photos and play music and podcasts on my PS3, but recently I’ve upgraded my Media Server and found a new server that provides Video On Demand from Netflix and other video sources.
I’m using Twonky Media’s media server to serve up mp3 podcasts, music and photos to my PS3. This works great, and Twonky version 5 is a great media server for a reasonable price. I used this a while ago and I got some errors on my PS3, but the latest version is great: Fewer errors and an easier install and setup.
However, Fast Forward in an MP3 is pretty messed up. As you can see from the following video, when you hold down fast foward, it skips and jumps and it keep stuttering and stopping so you can’t forward very fast. So, if for example, you play the first 40 minutes of of a 1:45 [one hour and 45 minute] podcast, then trying to get back to the place you were is a real pain. This feature probably works fine for a 4 minute song, but it’s not useful for a very long podcast.
Not sure if this is a problem with the PS3, or with the Twonky or the DLNA protocol.
I’ll try to contact the PS3 and Twonky support folks.
Video On Demand from Netflix
I’ve just discovered Play On which allows you to play videos from Netflix, YouTube and other places on your TV by using a PS3 or other DLNA Media Client. I’ve set up Play On on the same system where I installed Twonky and connected it to my NetFlix account. So now I can watch Instant movies from Netflix directly on my large screen TV and using my hi-fi system. My Media Server is a Win XP system running on a Compaq SR2020NX Athlon 64 3500+, 2.2GHz with 2GB memory. This is a $500 system that’s about 3 years old.
PlayOn is very easy to set up, although I had a glitch with the Media Player V11 that PlayOn required. The WMP11 installer kept reporting an error, but it turned out that it did install correctly. Once you install PlayOn, you configure it with your Netflix account, and then use a web browser to load up your Instant Queue in Netflix. To start with I loaded up a few movies, and TV series including Sanctuary, Ghost in the Shell, and a couple of other things. When you check the videos in the PS3 menu, you find the PlayOn server and the list of videos that are in the Netflix Instant list.
I’ve watched a couple of movies and the quality is very good with no noticeable sound or video artifacts. The video quality is not as good as a DVD, but it is at least as good as a SD quality Dishnet satellite broadcast. The PS3 display function reports about 4 mbps. The PlayOn software requires about 180MB of memory in two processes and takes about 50% of the CPU when the video is on pause. I’m guessing that the video is being downloaded and re-coded for the PS3.
BTW, the fast forward situation is much better with video than with music. Using PlayOn and the PS3 with Netflix, fast forward gives 10, 30, 120x fast forward and it works just fine to go back to a point deep into a movie. The PlayOn server did get stuck about 45 minutes into a movie, but turning off the PS3 and then reopening the movie fixed it up. The PS3 was reporting network errors. Not sure why. The server was working fine and the network was not having any problems that I could detect.
I’m catching up on Sanctuary and watched “In the Electric Mist” with Tommy Lee Jones this evening. When I added Sancuary, it added a folder with all the episodes.
I’m not clear on why the PS3 doesn’t support Netflix and other video sources directly, but since it doesn’t at least an inexpensive software addon, which runs on any modern computer, will allow a true video on-demand experience. PlayOn costs about $40. Since Netflix doesn’t charge for “Watching Instantly” beyond my normal subscription, I’ve got a fixed cost subscription to video on demand.