I have spent a great deal of energy looking for that elusive “all in one” Internet television solution without buying an HTPC (Home Theater PC). I just want to be able to sit back on my couch and watch my favorite Internet shows in one place, without being limited to a set of officially supported applications or sources, without having to switch between different inputs on my television, without having a bunch of individual, specialized boxes under my television, and without having to use a mouse and keyboard. That is the way Internet television should be: simple and with unlimited choice.
I had a great deal of trouble finding a way to achieve that ideal because, until recently, it did not exist, but now I am happy to report that I have found the solution! In this tutorial, I will share with you what I have learned and how you can do the same, quite possibly without spending a penny.
The heart of my solution is DNLA technology. DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) allows you to stream media between different devices within your home. For instance, you might stream video from your computer to your XBox, or pictures form your phone to your television. DLNA is supported by XBox, PS3, and most recently made televisions, bluray players, and DVD players. If you have one of these devices, and a computer, then you don’t have to buy a thing to have a a fantastic Internet television experience. If you do not already have a device that supports DLNA, I recommend buying a PS3, since this gets you a fantastic quality bluray player and DLNA client, plus of course, there’s the games. If you would like to learn more about why DLNA is the best solution, you can read more about that in this article.
In addition to your game console or other DLNA compliant home entertainment device, you will need a DLNA server on your computer. Setting up a server sounds bad to someone that is not so computer savvy, but a basic installation is really easy to do. In fact, Windows already has a DLNA server built into Vista and Windows 7. Enabling that built-in server is a piece of cake, but unfortunately it is not good enough to satisfy all of your needs, so you need to download a better one. There are many DLNA servers available to choose from, and they have a variety of different features. This can be kind of overwhelming, but don’t worry. I have already done the investigation for you. Finding one that supported all of my needs was a tremendous amount of trouble. I needed a server that supported transcoding, High Definition video, RSS feeds for podcasts, and plugins for other streaming video sources. Also, in my case, I wanted the DLNA server to be good enough at transcoding to adjust for my slow wireless G network. For months, I found nothing that satisfied all of this, but now I am happy to report that I have found Serviio.