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Windows, for use with PS3/Xbox 360/Wii
The first thing some people want to do when they bring home a shiny new gaming console is not to play games, but to play music and movies on it instead. Sound silly? Maybe not so much any more—now that the latest round of consoles are being hooked up to equally shiny high-definition televisions with superb sound systems, people are starting to value the game console not just as a gaming proposition, but as a media hub as well. TVersity is a Windows application designed to facilitate the process of giving your console—and that HDTV in the den—access to all the goodies on your computer.
Touted as a general-purpose media server, TVersity works with a wide variety of devices, including most web-enabled gadgets. Incidentally, this is how TVersity delivers media to the Wii as well—just open up your web browser, point it to the proper URL on your home network, and start going through your media library.
But TVersity’s main use is to serve media to the 360 and PS3 through DLNA, a network protocol designed for serving digital media across a network. It’s relatively easy to get both consoles working with TVersity—just install the program on your computer, load it up with media, and let your console automatically detect the presence of the media server. TVersity has most of the proper settings for console streaming by default, though you may want to set the transcoder’s maximum resolution to 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080 to take advantage of your high-definition screen.
TVersity’s main failings have to do with its interface. The Flash-based media library interface is not the most elegant, and there isn’t much documentation on what the various library organization schemes look like when browsing your library on a console (for what it’s worth, I stick with the File System setting, since I sort all my media into folders manually on my computer). TVersity also isn’t the fastest program in the world—loading 40 GB of music into the library, for example, took the better part of a half-hour.
But when it came to the act of actually serving media to my PS3, TVersity offered a near-flawless experience. Watching television episodes or listening to music was painless; the only problems came when I would be unexpectedly kicked out of a video partway through, perhaps due to a minor glitch in the video file. Replaying the video from just after the breakpoint solved the problem. TVersity also correctly recognized that the PS3 was able to play Xvid and DivX files without transcoding. It even managed to play a Windows Media internet stream from Tokyo without problems. The only glaring omission is TVersity’s inability to properly transcode Matroska media files for viewing on the PS3—sorry, anime fans, you’ll have to covert those movies manually.
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TVersity's upcoming v1.0 release promises a major interface overhaul, which hopefully will fix many of the old interface’s quirks. The other problems are fairly easy to overlook when you consider TVersity costs nothing (you can donate if you like) and is quite easy to set up. If you’re looking for an easy way to watch downloaded movies on your console, TVersity is a very good place to start. (Get it: 87/100)