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Nov 01 2009

Wii as a Media Centre

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One of the biggest flaws of the Nintendo Wii is that it does not have the built-in media centre that the X-Box 360 or the PS3 boasts. Well, I just finally got around to remedying this, using a combination of Jodi’s new computer’s massive hard drive, the Wii Homebrew Channel, and the open-source Mplayer-CE which can apparently stream over SMB. The interface is a tad cumbersome, having been hacked into the Wii port of Mplayer from its open-source rival GeexBox, but it’s certainly better than the interface available under vanilla Mplayer by miles.

After hard-coding Jodi’s desktop IP address, opening a share and setting the folder permissions so Guest has read-access, then fiddling with the config file on the Mplayer-CE install to point to this share, I was quickly able to browse to and play the Extended Edition of The Cage — the very first Star Trek pilot, on which the later episode The Menagerie was based.

It appears you can set up music playlists, stream from Shoutcast, Youtube channels or saved searches which you have to hard-code into the text-based configuration files prior to booting the app, and can otherwise load every bit of media that Mplayer can handle — and there’s precious little it can’t. I can’t figure out how to pause the playback yet, only stop it entirely — the A button is supposed to pause/play, but it doesn’t do anything. You can skip forward and backward a number of seconds or minutes with the arrows, resize and move the video with the nunchuck controls, and display statistics, but honestly, I’m not looking for bells and whistles. Just having the ability to stream media straight to my TV from across the house without having to go out and buy another game console is freaking sweet. And even if I couldn’t do that, given my cordless phone setup appears to be relatively cranky when paired with my wireless network, then I could connect a USB drive to the Wii and actually make use of that otherwise mostly-useless port.

I can tell you now, this app is going to get a hell of a lot of use in my household. Kudos, homebrew people. You’ve not only made one geek very happy, but you’ve gotten me interested in getting my feet wet with programming a decent interface for this thing.

1 comment

  1. 1
    Dan J

    I very much enjoy the media center capabilities of our PS3 system. We use the java-based PS3 Media Server software on our Linux boxes to provide access to our large libraries of music and videos. Media sharing like this was something we geeks didn’t even consider only a few years ago. I’m hooked.

    My wife would now like for me to set up another PC (not like I don’t have a few older boxes lying around) to use as a media PC in the bedroom, streaming content from the living room PCs, or from its own hard drive. Sounds like a good idea for me, and I hope to set it up in the coming weeks.

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