old PC media server

March 7, 2009 at 09:10:15
Specs: XP
Hello, I will soon by retiring my 2.1 ghz athlon with 1 gb of memory and am interested in using it as a media server and connecting it to my TV. I would like to be able to stream my movies and music wirelessly as I do not have access near my TV hard wire it. I plan on upgrading the HDD but am unsure what other hardware I will need or the process to go about setting this up. I have read some guides about using an old PC as a media server but its still not clear as I am not very technically inclined. Would anybody be kind enough to point me to a detailed guide on how to set this up? Your help is greatly appreciated. Thank you

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March 7, 2009 at 10:36:06
Unfortunately, setting up a ordinary PC to be a media server which will allow you to access video media from your TV is not a trivial project for the average non-"technically inclined" individual. Setting up the PC to be a "media server" is not so difficult, there are numerous Windows, Linux, and Mac based software packages available for doing this. The difficult part is setting up a client which would allow you to sit in front of your TV and access the media selections which you have installed on your media server. From what I've looked into myself most of these DIY type installations, and even the store brought "media center" type systems, basically have the media server and client running on the same PC and have the TV (and other devices) connected to the PC and you select the media you want to watch or listen to through the PC's GUI interface and it's displayed on the TV. There is typically a remote control interface which allows you to do most of the basic functions of selecting the desired media from your arm chair or couch. However, you desire a wireless transfer from the media server, which would mean a seperate PC by the TV which will act as the client and wirelessly (WiFi) connect to the media server in another room and display the media on your TV. I don't know of any step-by-step guide which will guide a non-technically inclined individual to set up such a system. Here are some links that might be of help in understanding what you need:




I would suggest starting out by just learning to how to set up a media server which is connected directly to the TV by putting the PC on some kind of cart next to the TV. Once you've gotten that working like you like, then figure out how to set up the PC remotely and access it wirelessly by some kind of client you can connect to the TV.

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March 7, 2009 at 11:33:38
Thank you for your help

Would I just be better off buying something like an HP mediasmart connect and connecting a USB drive for storage?

by chance would you know if I would be gaining anything by paying 3x as much for their media server?

Could it double as a backup storage device for computers as well?

Thanks again

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March 7, 2009 at 14:15:46
I don't have any experience with the HP MediaSmart Connect product, but as with any other appliance/device like it, you should look very carefully at it before buying. From your original post I thought one of your primary goals was to find something useful to do with the 2.1 Athlon computer which you already have. Depending on the video capability of that computer, it seems like it could be configured to do most of what a new HP machine will do. It's really not that hard to set up a computer to save and store video and audio media on, the difficult part is setting up a system where you can sit on your couch and use a remote control to access the media from your TV. I don't know if the HP product will do that and if that's what you ultimately want, then you'd better make sure that's something the MediaSmart will do. I do know that you'll have to put the MediaSmart by your TV, it will not connect "wirelessly" to your TV. My impression is that what most of these kinds of products are really about is connecting customers to media "services" which come with a monthly bill.

As far as using it as a home network file server, well I suppose since what a "media server" really does is serve "media files", then it would also able to serve other files as well. That can be accomplished by a "network storage device" as well, and at much less cost.

Since your going to be "retiring" your Athlon computer anyway, meaning you don't have any other use for it, why don't you go ahead and experiment with some of these free software media servers? First, back it up in it's current working configuration so that you can always restore it to what it was in case things just don't work at all. Then, do a little research on some of the free software packages for setting up a media server. Try them out and see if you can get them to do what you want. If nothing else, you will learn a lot and be better able to make an informed decision about buying a product like the HP MediaSmart. Worse case, you can't get anything to work right and you'll just use the backup you made to restore the Athlon and think of something else to do with it.

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March 7, 2009 at 15:35:30
yes, I would much rather use my old PC rather than spending more money. I'm just not sure what extra hardware I would need besides extra hard drive space to make this work. I was planning on physically connecting it to my TV, I'm just not sure what cables I would need. What I really am envisioning is a way where I could download content, push it wirelessly to my old pc that is connected to my tv, and watch it. Using it as a back up device would be a bonus as well.

I figured my old PC would be my cheapest option, I could be wrong, just all the information I'm reading about media servers gets me very confused.

Thanks again for your help

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March 7, 2009 at 18:50:14
Well, the first thing you do is learn what kind of display adapter modification you'd have to make to the old computer to be able to connect to and display on the TV. You may find that the cost of that modification alone is not something your comfortable with. But, that would be the first step, learn how to connect the TV to the computer. Just get the current desktop displayed on your TV and then play a video with WMP full screen. See what it looks like. If you can't do that at a resonable cost, then there's no sense buying anything else, it will never be any good for what you want unless it can provide a good video display on the TV.

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March 26, 2009 at 09:38:29
Dialogic Media Servers can be used to power a broad range of traditional and media-rich next-generation services for wireline, wireless, and broadband networks, including the IMS network architecture.

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