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How do I use Xbox 360 to play movies directly off a NAS?

Posted on 2010-08-27
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Last Modified: 2013-12-07
Hey,

Now before you think I'm simply trying to use a 360 to play media on a NAS, I can tell you that the situation is more tricky than that.

I'm using my Asus WL520gu router flashed with tomato as a wireless ethernet bridge (where it receives a wireless signal and just acts as ports). I've hooked my Xbox 360 directly to the tomato router. I play Windows Media Center fine, and can stream good quality video. However, I'd like to stream 1080p movies, but it doesn't work well on wireless. That's why I've also set up the tomato router to use native USB support and attached an external hard drive to it. I'm hoping that since the hard drive and 360 are both directly connected to the tomato router, the transfer of 1080p files would be faster. It's a tricky idea, I know.

However, it works as well as if i connected the external hard drive to the computer hosting Windows Media Center. I'm unfamiliar with the processes of Windows Media Center, but I'm guessing that the 360 sends requests to my computer through the wireless ethernet bridge and then finds the mapped drive on the tomato router. I'd like to make it so that the Xbox realizes that it has a direct connection to the router with the hard drive attached to it.

What can I do to eliminate the middleman of the computer which is connected wirelessly? Is there some sort of port forwarding on the tomato router where I can forward the 360 ports directly to the hard drive connected via USB?

Thanks
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Question by:blkburn
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Expert Comment

by:qbakies
ID: 33542614
There is no way to do this (short of modding your 360).  The 360 requires either WMC or Zune software as a middleman to stream content unless the HDD is connected directly to the 360.
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Expert Comment

by:kagemusha1138
ID: 33542757
As long as your router supports DLNA it should see the files no problem however IF the Xbox does not recognise the file types it may not show them when you browse to the folder containing these files. I use dedicated ReadyNAS devices connected through Ethernet which simply show up as soon as the Xbox is switched on without any configuration required.

The other option if you are using a USB hard drive is to simply plug your hard drive into the Xbox. As long as it is formatted to FAT32 and the files are compatible with the Xbox you shloudnt have any issues. It will show up as a removable device in the video selection menu.
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Author Comment

by:blkburn
ID: 33544253
qbakies:
So, unless the HDD is connected directly to the 360, it will play wirelessly. So, are you suggesting that I connect the HDD to the 360, then it will be able to play 1080p videos? How would I do that?

kagemusha1138:
Does it still play through Windows Media Center? I'm not having any problems viewing the NAS on my 360. I'm hoping that somehow, I can play videos from my connection to the router with the hard drive directly, without doing the wireless streaming. I feel that the Xbox 360 should be able to somehow find that a NAS is available via ethernet, then steam it over the cable instead of communicating it wirelessly to the computer first.
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Expert Comment

by:qbakies
ID: 33544329
You can connect the external USB HDD directly to the 360 and stream from it, yes (as long as the movies are in a supported format). Kagemusha1138 is stating that if your external HDD is DLNA compliant that the 360 should see it on the network.  I'm not sure about that.

Also, I've lost track of the 'NAS' in your issue.  Is the NAS what you are referring to as the external HDD you connected directly to your router through USB?
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kagemusha1138 earned 1400 total points
ID: 33544498
The key to all this is NOT to use the Xbox 360 Media Center but to use the Video Library option instead - this is where you will access either a NAS or USB attached hard drive.

IF the Xbox reads your drive be it network based or usb you will then be able to explore the folders on said storage device. I have attached a document that I have just thrown together that shows how to access your media on the xbox it might help.

IF you connect a usb device then follow the rules I stated previously. Again I have just setup a 250GB USB Western Digital mybook to prove the concept. Any more help you need just give me a shout.
streaming-media-to-xbox.pdf
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Expert Comment

by:qbakies
ID: 33544508
Here is an excellent write up of DLNA and how it works like kagemusha1138 is talking about (very nice to know).  So again, is the device plugged into your router a NAS or just an external HDD?  If it is a HDD then plugging it into your 360 directly will solve your issue.  If it is a NAS that is not DLNA compliant then looking for a new NAS that is DLNA compliant would be your best bet.
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Assisted Solution

by:qbakies
qbakies earned 600 total points
ID: 33544559
I forgot the link, http://www.obsessable.com/feature/home-media-streaming-101-dlna-explained/

Kagemusha1138, I stream content everyday to my 360 from my media server (running standard XP) but I had to have the Zune software installed and then tell the software to share media on the server with all Xboxes on the network.  I use the video library option in the dashboard and have never used the 'Xbox 360 media center'.  Is the WD mybook connected directly to your 360 in the PDF or is it DLNA also?
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Assisted Solution

by:kagemusha1138
kagemusha1138 earned 1400 total points
ID: 33544681
No it wasnt but it is in the attached jpeg. The reason you need to install software is because you are using a PC based system. I use the Netgear ReadyNAS DUO. http://www.readynas.com/?p=177 check out about half way down the page. They are fun and very low powered. Basically I leave them on all the time now and can access them via webdav outside my network for work purposes.

I have also found this quote on the following website re the router in question

QUOTE - DLNA media server works with a little tweaking in DD-WRT but because of the less than 1mb/sec usb limit only lower quality xvid/divx and music can be streamed. No hope for 720p or 1080p.

WEBSITE - http://ncix.com/products/index.php?mode=productreviewread&product_id=25303

So the only way to get 1080p on your xbox in the particular setup in discussion is to connect the USB HDD to the xbox itself.

CIMG0019.JPG
CIMG0020.JPG
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Author Comment

by:blkburn
ID: 33546145
That last quote about the USB only supporting 1mb/sec is a bit discouraging, as the whole reason I wanted to do this was to stream the 1080p videos. Oh well.

I use the Windows Media Center to browse and play the videos, but I was hoping to play it directly from the NAS in the router. I thought there would be a way to forward the video streaming traffic on tomato to access the NAS directly, but that seems less possible than the DLNA setup. I'm going to try your setup when I get home tonight.

Anyway, I really appreciate the feedback and will update you guys on the results and award points then!
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Expert Comment

by:qbakies
ID: 33546203
So it is a NAS and not a standard external HDD you connected to the router.  In that case I'm not sure you could even plug that directly into the 360 and search it.  It depends on the NAS's built-in OS and how it causes it to be seen when it is directly connected to devices.  Getting a new DLNA compliant NAS is probably the way to go for your setup.  Award the points to kagemusha1138, he earned them.
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Expert Comment

by:kagemusha1138
ID: 33546240
Thanks qbakies. If you have any questions about media streaming give me a shout. for your pc setup though you could look at twonky or tversity or something might be better than the zune software
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Author Closing Comment

by:blkburn
ID: 33558361
I realized my problem could not be solved directly, but solutions gave me a good idea of a workaround.
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