my ridiculous quest to stream video to my xbox...

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by gui3, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. gui3

    gui3 all the dude ever wanted was his rug back

    May 6, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Ive been working on this for weeks, trying to come up with one close-to-perfect solution, so i wrote it all up. question at the bottom.

    MY GOAL: to stream my videos, including my DVD collection, with good video quality and 5.1 audio, from a server setup to my xbox without any hacks. I also want to use the server for redundant backups.


    this is all post-december update.

    I wanted to set up a way to serve video, pictures, and music to my xbox from anywhere on the network. Even after the december update, the xbox still has a lot of limitations on what type of media can be streamed, even though the xbox will play the files happily.
    Streaming through media center is a waste because MCE is very limited on what types of files it will I focused on streaming via the dashboard and WMP11.

    First - AVI in Videora
    I encoded new AVI files with Videora's xbox converter. the files added to WMP's library and streamed, but even at full quality, the resolution was horrible and the encode took forever. not workable.

    Second - AVI in Handbrake
    I used Handbrake with some DVD's in AVI format:
    AVI, MPEG-4, h.264
    I tried these with various audio and video quality levels and bitrates.
    All had acceptable quality and encode times. The AVI's loaded into WMP11 no-problem, and streamed. BUT...none streamed well. they were choppy, would lose sync, and would not resume probably. Not workable. Note, they worked via USB. I was told by someone over at Handbrake's forums that AVI really isn't good for streaming.

    Third - AVI in Visualhub
    I used VisualHub (mac) to re-encode to an AVI. it streamed fine, but took FOREVER to encode. not workable. why did this AVI work but not Handbrake's? Handbrake guy tells me that VH's muxer is better. whatever, still not worth the wait.

    Fourth - MP4 in Handbrake and Registry Hacks
    I did a registry hack that allowed MP4 files to be added to WMP11's library. I can provide details of that, but it essentially involved applying a custom reg file that tells WMP11 to let MP4's in, combined with two other peices of software (a codec pack and media splitter). I then used Handbrake to make some MP4 DVD rips:
    MP4 - MPEG-4, FFMPEG
    M4V - MPEG-4, FFMPEG
    MP4 - MPEG-4, XVID
    MP4 - H.264
    i tried these at various bit rates ranging from 1000kbps to 5000kbps.
    after the hack, all added to WMP and streamed completely fine. all had acceptable encode times.

    NOTE - after a few days, i suddenly had a problem where *.mp4 files would add to WMP11, but would not stream. windows decided they were "movie clips" and would not stream them. i changed them all to *.m4v files, and suddenly they work 100%

    So, with the hack, things seem to be working fine. But, two problems:
    (1) this required hacking the registry. that sucks, and it's finicky. i need something that just works, reliably.
    (2) i just found out that the xbox only supports 2-channel audio with mp4's and will only do 5.1 with AVI containers. HUGE BUMMER, especially since ive spent the past few days re-ripping all my DVDs. it looks like i'm going to have to re-re-rip them now. i was hoping to use the newer MP4 format. oh well.

    PART II - Hardware

    What I have available:
    two 750GB drives
    one 500GB drive
    one 160GB drive
    one XP MCE machine
    one external hard drive enclosure

    (1) Windows Home Server?
    I considered turning my XP machine into a windows home server box.
    PROS: WHS has file duplication, no storage limits, an itunes server, and xbox streaming.
    CONS: i lose XP functionality, and WHS will only stream WMV and AVI. this is not to mention WHS's newness and apparent file corruption issues.

    (2) Stream from XP machine?
    I considered just adding drives to the XP machine, and using the external hard drive as a backup and streaming from the PC.
    PROS: i keep XP's functionality and current streaming ability.
    CONS: no automatic file redundancy, i have to keep the registry hack,

    (3) XP + NAS, new hotness.
    I have heard about NAS devices that will stream to the XBOX. unfortunately, i can't find any info about file limitations and whether it's any good streaming over the network. Ideal would be something that connects to the XBOX via USB and to the network via ethernet cable.

    can you recommend a NAS like this?

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