Napkin Diagrams

Engineering, Technology, and DIY

Streaming to Xbox360 With Mac: Connect360, Rivet, or PS3 Media Server?

Mashup of Apple and 360 logos

Monitors are nice and all, but there’s something about watching a movie on a big tv and a nice sound system. The easiest way to get it from your mac to the tube would be a direct HDMI cable, but not everyone has laptops or adapters. What’s that? You have an Xbox 360? Well then, you’re in luck! There’s a few options out there now to stream media from a Mac to an Xbox 360 for playing on your living room set and achieve media seamlessness.

First things first – you’ve got to get your network set up. There’s plenty of resources on doing this, so I won’t go into detail. If your Mac and 360 are on the same network, then you’re ready for the next step of streaming.

There are two main programs and a third, lesser known, contender.

Connect360 — Nullriver Software ($20)

Pros:

  • Simplest — Easy to set up. Some settings, but not overwhelming. Runs from a little preference pane
  • Music Library — Works well with the Xbox’s music browsing system (artists, albums, etc)
  • Access Control — Can set which set of IP addresses can access the box if you share a network, for example
  • Stablity — Hangs least often out of the three

Cons:

  • Not Free
  • Limited Sharing — Music is locked to iTunes library, Photo is locked to iPhoto, and you can choose ONE directory for Movies. This really sucks if you have multiple things in multiple places.
  • File Formats — Only plays the default formats that the 360 can handle. It says that it has transcoding, but I’ve never seen it work.
  • File Structure — This one really bothers me. Except for the top tier of directories, it flattens all the contents into single file lists. E.g. All of your podcasts show up in one big folder instead of episodes stored their respective show folders. This gets quite confusing and hard to navigate after a while.

Rivet — Cynical Peak Software ($18.95)
Pros:

  • Simplicity &mdash More settings than Connect, but still fairly simple
  • File Structure &mdash Honors directory structures
  • Custom Sharing &mdash Define folders to share, share multiple folders
  • Music Library &mdash Works well with the Xbox’s music browsing system (artists, albums, etc)
  • Access Control — Can set which set of IP addresses can access the box if you share a network, for example

Cons:

  • Not Free
  • Stability &mdash Has a habit of hanging a bit more often than Connect360
  • File Formats — Only plays the default formats that the 360 can handle. No transcoding.

As you can see, the two are quite similar. Rivet has Connect360 beat with the custom folder sharing and directory honoring, while Connect360 has it beat on stability and simplicity. Neither have transcoding, which means if your media isn’t in one of the shamefully few supported, you’re out of luck… or are you?

PS3 Media Server Yes, it works with Xbox360 too. (FREE)
Pros:

  • FREE
  • Complexity — More settings than you’ll know what to do with. Perfect to tweak and squeeze every last drop out of your setup.
  • File Structure &mdash Honors directory structures
  • Custom Sharing &mdash Define folders to share, share multiple folders
  • TRANSCODING — This is the good stuff right here. On the fly transcoding. Anything you throw at it can get converted to an Xbox 360 playable file on the fly. Surely HD mkv files with subtitles won’t work, right? No problem at all.

Cons:

  • Complexity — It can be a bit overkill if you don’t need the settings or transcoding
  • Stability — Hangs the most of the three, but not to an unusable degree
  • Resourcse — It’s written in Java, so it takes up a bit more of your resources than the other two. Transcoding, by it’s nature, can eat your CPU. If you’re transcoding, don’t plan on using your computer too much at the same time for other things.

Conclusion
So, of the three, PS3 Media Server is the most capable of them all, and it’s free. If you don’t want to shell out any cash, or have a library in all sorts of formats, this will make your life a dream. For real simple streaming though, it’s a tossup between Connect360 and Rivet. Features wise, I’d go with Rivet, but I personally have had less issues with Connect360.

Oh, and if all else fails, get yourself a thumb drive.

So, what method do you prefer? Got an awesome one that wasn’t mentioned?

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6 responses to “Streaming to Xbox360 With Mac: Connect360, Rivet, or PS3 Media Server?

  1. Robin December 9, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    My bf downloads things to his external network drive, connects that to his PS3, and uses that media server to play whatever. Really convenient! You don’t have to constantly hook up a laptop every time you want to watch/listen to stuff.

    • Brian Bickerton December 9, 2009 at 9:46 pm

      Yea, FreeNAS and many of the network storage solutions have console support built in. Really, it’s just sharing a drive with UPnP. Although, the library they use for transcoding, “fuppes”, never works for me, so the PS3 Media Server software is a God-send.

      But if you’ve got a wireless network, a macbook is just as convenient, if not more so.

  2. Cedes January 30, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    I’ve downloaded PS3 Media Server to my MAC but I keep getting the error “PS3 has not been found…” and there is a large red x underneath… I don’t have a PS3 but I have an Xbox 360 so how do I tell it to use that?… please help!

    • Brian Bickerton January 30, 2011 at 6:10 pm

      It automatically picks up on whatever device is on the network; you don’t have to choose a particular console. Once you start up PS3 Media Server and it’s fully running, go to your 360. Jump into the video section and there should be an entry that shows up for it. When you click on that and connect, it should show up in PS3MS as a connected device. On the Xbox, browse and select a video file to play. You should then see the buffer start to grow in the PS3MS app.

  3. joE webb May 10, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    iv got to say that rivet is a hell of a lot better than connect360, for one you get to see the artwork for your dvds and cps on your xbox and best of all rivet is FRRE!
    CHECK HERE http://digi-apper.blogspot.co.uk/

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