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I've got DVD files on my Windows PC that I want to be able to play on a digital TV with an HDMI, a VGA, and traditional audio and video cables. What solutions could you recommend for watching these movies? The PC contains a folder full of movies in DVD format (each movie folder contains a VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS folder, and the VIDEO_TS folder contains IFO, VOB, and BUP files).

The options I can think of off the top of my head would be:

  1. Get another video card and a long cable to wire the TV directly to my TV (downside: I have to be at my PC to select, start, and stop a movie)

  2. Find a hardware device that can read from the PC and allow remote control, like a DVD player that can read from a PC (downside: probably doesn't exist)

  3. Find a wireless device that can similarly stream to a TV.

I'm not sure whether anything in 2) or 3) exists, so I wanted to get some options.

EDIT:

I'm going to try a few solutions out. Lots of feedback with every kind of external device - from xbox360, roku, apple tv, dvd/blue ray players, etc. I'm going to try out the Roku XDS with a USB hard drive initially and see if it works the way I want it to. I'll update with any issues I come across.

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migrated from serverfault.com Jun 9 '11 at 7:40

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4 Answers

For Q#1 you need to provide more info: what version of Windows? You have some cables; what outputs does the PC have besides VGA and a 3.5mm stereo audio? What inputs does the TV have?

Q#2/3 is possible with a network media player such as the Popcorn Hour or WDTV Live and a wired or wireless Ethernet connection. Win7 supports the XBox360 as an Media Center extender.

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Currently, it's Vista 64 bit. I'm running a dual monitor setup that I don't want interrupted (preferably, I'm open to optional setups. I can buy a cheap old PC if I need to). I think I'd prefer an external device interacting with my network. I'll investigate XBox360 and a Windows 7 upgrade. –  Joe B. Jun 9 '11 at 23:13
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There are bluray dvd players that offer you the ability to connect to your local network. Usually they offer netflix and other internet connected. a quick shopping around should help you find players with those specs. the I know LG makes one, as do Sony and I am sure most bluray players now offer this as part of the firmware standard.

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It looks like there are plenty of Blue Ray players out there with this exact capability. –  Joe B. Jun 9 '11 at 23:57
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The way to do this, and the way i'm going to do this over the weekend is by using a Media Center extender. You'll need to setup Windows Media Center on your source PC and configure its libaries to point at the location of your dvd files. This is all pretty easy to do in the Windows Media Center setup wizard.

You'll then need an extender device, you can actually use an XBox360 for this (not sure if it applies to the original XBox) but if you don't have one there are a few manufacturers out there that build Media Extenders.

The link below is an example of a device and the one i have bought for myself.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Linksys-DMA2100-Dual-Band-Wireless-N-Extender/dp/B000YL94CU

This will connect to your TV on HDMI or SVideo and then connect over you network to your PC and Media Center and let you browse and playback all of your media (videos/photos/music) and if you have a tv tuner in your PC, view that too. Its all controlled through a remote and apparantly looks like the media center interface (i've not tried it yet but thats how it looks from pics). This particular device (or version of it) even has a built in DVD player so you don't have to run to your PC to turn on a DVD (i think).

My setup at home is that i have a dedicated Media PC under my living room TV and then i plan to have extenders through the house to stream from this (including the live TV from my 2 HD tuners and 2 SD tuners). You could have a Media Center as a server in a cuboard and then have extenders on every TV and stream this way.

I have no idea if my current g network will take the load, whether i'll need to upgrade to N or run CAT6 through the house but either way it should be a brilliant solution (if it works as i expect it)

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Interesting solution. These solution weem feasible, however, out of my price range in the US ($360 for a similar US model). –  Joe B. Jun 9 '11 at 23:57
    
the bluray player route you can do for $100-150 –  datatoo Jun 10 '11 at 0:10
    
there are cheaper extenders out there, just find a specialist retailer for Media Centers and they should have a much wider range available for you. –  daffers Jun 10 '11 at 9:17
    
I have since had my extender and set it up and it works brilliantly. The interface is slightly laggy but i think that might be the wireless. You can't stream DVDs over the network as far as i can tell but everything else works just fine. –  daffers Jun 29 '11 at 7:56
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I use MythTV as opposed to Windows Media Center. Installed using MythBuntu which was very easy to install and set up. A cheap, older system could easily handle the load you're proposing.

The only additional cost would be a remote. For that I would recommend (somewhat ironically) going with a Media Center remote control such as this one ($22 w/free shipping in the US), because MythBuntu is preconfigured to use MCE remotes.

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