In a recent guest post, Tim Robertson looked at the Wii’s media handling capabilities and concluded that the Wii is no media center, lacking the ability to stream photos, videos or music over a home network. On the plus side, Nintendo’s latest console does have a fully-fledged web browser capable of accessing flash-based audio and video from sites like YouTube.
Finally biting the bullet, early last week I bought myself a Wii, and in between golf and tennis sessions I decided to try and push the limits of the console’s media-playback functionality. After a bit of research and with the help of a number of web sites optimized for the Wii and a few software downloads, I was able to fudge together a fairly capable Wii-based media center.
Here are five applications and websites needed to create your own Wii media center…
1. Wii Transfer
Wii Transfer enables music and photos to be streamed from a Mac to a Wii via the console’s Internet Channel. After installing the software, your Mac becomes a mini server so that you can call up a special local web page on your Wii, where you can then browse iTunes playlists and iPhoto albums on your television. Additionally, Wii Transfer can also convert movies for playback in the Wii’s Photo Channel (not streamed but instead via SD card) and manage saved game backups.
In my testing, Wii Transfer worked as advertised — athough the web-based interface isn’t as nice as using Apple’s own Front Row media center software. Wii Transfer will set you back $14.
2. Wii Media Center X
Wii Media Center X is another media server which enables photos, music — and this time video — to be streamed from a PC/Mac to a Wii. It runs on most major operating systems: Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Alhough promising, the software is currently in the very early stages of development, and on the Mac, required to be installed using the command line rather than simply double-clicking on the applications’s icon. Flash is the only video format currently supported, along with mp3 for music.
Overall, the music and photo streaming worked fine, though on the downside, all mp3s have to be in a specific folder, separate from your iTunes library for example. I wasn’t able to test video, as I had no Flash videos lying around, and by the time I did, my Wii Remote’s batteries had died!
Wii Media Center X is free, and certainly one to keep an eye on as it develops.
3. Wii Hear
Wii Hear is a website that aggregates a number of Internet radio stations which are streamed using Flash (which of course the Wii’s browser supports). The site is optimized for the Wii (big chunky fonts) and has a nice but limited selection of music genres — no blues station for old-timers like me.
A specially designed Wii version of Finetune, an online music service that enables you to create and share personalized Internet radio stations based on artist or playlist. I created a station based on the artist Jimi Hendrix, and was pleasantly entertained for hours. This one is a must-have bookmark that should be in everyone’s Wii Internet Channel.
Viewii is a Wii-optimized site for searching and viewing YouTube (with photos from Flickr planned in a future release). The site utilizes YouTube’s API, and works great. Like with Finetune, this one should be in every Wii owner’s bookmarks.
Related post: Wii Media Center?