App of the Week: PS3 Media Server
Technology is quickly evolving, game consoles included. Besides becoming more powerful devices, gaming consoles are increasingly becoming the media centers for many homes. All three major consoles have YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu Plus access, and Xbox and PS3 are gaining more services every year. The PlayStation 3 can easily access any servers on your home network, but it takes a little set up to get that media directly from your Mac. PS3 Media Server helps bridge that connection.
First thing to note is that PS3 Media Server is not necessarily for the faint of heart. While the actual connection part is very simple, the settings to optimize and customize the connection are many and aren’t so straight forward. Most people will not end up using the majority of options. Setup works like this: first enable “Media Server Connection” on your PS3 under Network Settings and make sure your PS3 is connected to your home network, ethernet or Wi-Fi will do just fine. Then connect your Mac to the same network and launch the PS3 Media Server app. You may need to take down your Mac’s firewall for the initial setup, as I did, but afterwards you should be able to run the app with the Firewall enabled. Then select the media folders you want to allow your PS3 to connect to; I chose my Pictures, Movies, and Music folder, as well as my Dropbox folder. The only other settings I messed with were telling the app not to let my Mac go into Sleep mode when streaming and to adjust the audio to only play stereo sound rather than 5.1 surround sound. After you finish tweaking, hit Save, and then Restart Server
When you return to your PS3, you can now go to the Music, Video, and Pictures tab and view your media through there. If for whatever reason you don’t see the Mac’s folders, hit “Search for Media Servers” in any one of the tabs, then select your Mac when it pops up. As the names suggest, you can only look at pictures in the Pictures tab, video in the Video tab, and music in the Music tab. While you’re in these menus, you can create playlists, create slideshows, and even copy the media to your PS3’s hard drive. I would recommend doing this all over an ethernet connection rather than Wi-Fi because it is a faster and more stable connection.
Music and pictures played smoothly and cleanly. Videos did all right, though I noticed times when the video would have to stop and buffer, but this was usually a result of my Mac being in a weak Wi-Fi zone. Quality was pretty good during streaming, as I noticed very little quality degradation. Likewise, copying of my Mac’s 6-gig Music folder to the PS3’s hard drive took about 1-hour over my network connection.
Probably the biggest negative about this app is the fact that it is not the most straight forward to set up. Its look is somewhat intimidating if you don’t know what you’re doing, but the developers who support this app are constantly helping people to make sure you get the best results. The community has several plugins to make your Media Server better, such allowing you to browse and stream content from Mac Smart Folders.
One last thing about the app is that it is a Java app. This means that you will need Java on your computer to run, which many of the latest Macs don’t have at the moment. To update your Java, click the appropriate links at the bottom of the article for your system. PS3 Media Server is a free app available for OS 10.5 and later (Leopard and later). It also runs on Windows XP and later, Fedora 11 and later, and Ubuntu 8.10 and later. You can check download the app at http://www.ps3mediaserver.org/.
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Java for Leopard (10.5): http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1359
Java for Snow Leopard: (10.6): http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1550
Java for Lion (10.7): http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1515