How-to: Stream media from a Mac to PlayStation 3

How-to: Stream media from a Mac to PlayStation 3Apple and Sony are fierce competitors, but that hasn’t stopped the PlayStation 3 playing nicely with Mac OSX computers. Thanks to some great third-party software, and Sony’s decision to add support for the UPnP AV standard, the PS3 has, in some ways, become a better solution than Apple’s own offering to the problem of streaming content – audio, video and photos – from a Mac to the TV. Here’s our quick guide to creating a Mac-supported PS3 media center.

Step One: Turning the Mac into a PS3-friendly media server

Assuming that your Mac is already on the same local network as your PlayStation 3, the first thing you’ll need to do is install a UPnP AV-compliant media server. In fact, this will need to be done for all of the Macs that you want to share media from.

DLNA certifiedUPnP (Universal Plug ‘n Play) AV is a standard overseen by the Digital Living Network Alliance, a consortium backed by big name consumer electronics, computer and mobile device manufacturers such as HP, Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung, that enables ‘DLNA compliant’ devices to easily discover and share media on the same home network. Typically, devices either act as a server, meaning that they can stream media to any DLNA certified device, or as a client, in which case they can auto-detect UPnP-servers on the network to browse and stream media from them. For our purposes, the Mac will act as server and the PS3 as client.

See also: DLNA certified: how your computer, cellphone, games console, media streamer and other devices can play nicely together

Nullriver Software’s MediaLink

MediaLink: solving the PS3 and Mac problemUntil fairly recently, Mac owners were left with only one UPnP AV server solution: Elgato’s EyeConnect (see below). However, that all changed earlier this year when Nullriver, creators of the popular Mac/XBox Connect 360 software, decided to apply their media server expertise to the PS3 problem. The resulting MediaLink software ($20) has quickly established itself as the best solution for streaming media from a Mac OSX computer to the PlayStation3.

As you’d expect, MediaLink offers complete iLife 08 integration, so that photos in your iPhoto library show up in the PS3′s photo menu. Likewise, iTunes music also appears in the PS3′s music menu. And if you’re running the latest version of Mac OSX (Leopard) you’ll see thumbnail previews for photos and album cover art for music appear as you browse through your Mac’s media collection on the PlayStation.

MediaLink screenshotFor videos (or any other media stored outside of iLife) you have the option to designate any Mac folder (or folders) as being accessible on the PS3 via MediaLink. A good place to start is the Mac’s default ‘Movie’ folder. In terms of video files, MediaLink can share and/or stream all of the PS3′s currently supported formats, including MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, H.264, AVI, DivX and Xvid. In our testing over several months, DivX and almost all Xvid videos streamed flawlessly over an 802.11g WiFi network, as did most MPEG4-based video podcasts. Other MPEG4 and H.264 files needed specific settings when being encoded (not the fault of MediaLink but rather the PS3′s current firmware limitations — see step two below). As well as streaming, files can alternatively be copied onto the PS3′s internal hard drive.

The only real fault we could find with MediaLink is that on occasions the software, which runs in the background via a dedicated system preference and menu bar item, needed to be restarted. A little bit annoying if your Mac is in a room far away from your PS3!

Update: since installing the latest version of MediaLink, the need to restart has been eradicated.

Elgato’s EyeConnect

EyeConnectUnlike MediaLink, EyeConnect ($49.95) from Elgato isn’t a dedicated PS3 solution but rather a generic UPnP AV server for the Mac. Therefore, PS3 support isn’t as polished as it might be, and is in fact at times pretty buggy. The company openly admits as much, advising prospective customers to “try the EyeConnect 1.5 trial with their PS3, before deciding if it works well enough for them to purchase.” However, for those looking for a UPnP AV server for the Mac that can talk to more than just a PS3, EyeConnect may be your only option.

One other caveat when using either MediaLink or EyeConnect: DRMed content bought from the iTunes Store won’t play on the PS3 as Apple doesn’t license its FairPlay copyprotection technology to third-parties

See also: Nokia’s DLNA goodness – N85 to PS3 streaming

Step Two: Preparing PS3-friendly video

Handbrake and PS3As already mentioned, most DivX and Xvid files that you’re likely to have lying around can play just fine on the PS3. As do most podcasts subscribed to through iTunes. However, if you want to rip your own DVDs for streaming to the PS3, you’ll need to use specific codec settings for the most reliable results.

Luckily, the open source Handbrake software (our choice for creating iPod compatible DVDs rips) has its own PS3 preset. Open Hanbrake and point it to your DVD’s ‘VIDEO TS’ folder, and select PS3 from the right-hand sidebar, then you should be good to go. Note: some DVDs are encrypted, so you may have to use a program like MacTheRipper to copy an unencrypted version of the DVD onto your Mac’s hard drive first. And that’s pretty much it :-)

What’s your experience of Mac and PS3 goodness? Leave your own tips in the comments.

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last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

62 Responses to “How-to: Stream media from a Mac to PlayStation 3”

  1. PS3 Addict says:

    Thanks for the extremely useful article.

    I’m a little new to macs and it came across this page when trying to work out the best way of streaming content to my PS3.

    The process was quite easy to setup once i knew where i was going, and now, it works a treat !!!

    If only encoding those PS3 videos didnt take so long to convert in handbrake :(

  2. Martin says:

    Just bought a 24″ iMac :) I’m wondering if I can stream HD stuff to my PS3, either downloaded or recorded off-air.

  3. Nate says:

    I am in the process of testing out EyeConnect right now, but Medialink is quite nice @ a $20 price tag. Here are the differences that I have seen so far.

    Medialink and EyeConnect play the same media. Both cannot do transcoding for MKV files.
    Now Medialink can share your Aperature library. EyeConnect doesn’t have that but I am sure you can just share the directory.

    Medialink is a tad slow when you browse your media. I have about 30 gigs of music and it takes a bit to have everything show up. EyeConnect is about 10x quicker. Also EyeConnect will not show media on your PS3 that it cannot read. So that may eliminate some frustration out of playing files.

    I disagree with your comment that Medialink needs to be restarted occasionally. I have yet to run into that issue. You may want to update your version.

    If you need help setting up Medialink or EyeConnect, I have tutorials for both @ http://blog.hillbillyhardware.net

  4. OT says:

    Does this solution play movies and shows purchased from the iTunes store? There’s the issue with ownership, as shows are locked and only allowed to be opened through iTunes if you’re logged into the account that bought the movie…

    So basically if I buy an HD Movie in iTunes, can I stream it to my PS3?

  5. Steve O'Hear, editor says:

    @ OT

    I’m afraid there is no way to stream movies or TV shows purchased from the iTunes Store to a PS3. That’s because of the DRM (copy protection) system that Apple employs.

  6. Nate says:

    Keep in mind that there is solutions on removing the DRM on anything purchased from iTunes, but I am not going to tell you how.

  7. Johnny D says:

    I’m having a lot of trouble with MediaLink 1.59 causing kernel panic on Leopard 10.5.5. Nullriver Software is not even bothering to respond to my support tickets, so I would NOT recommend purchasing their product until you try it out and make sure it doesn’t crash your Mac. I’m very disappointed in Nullriver.

    Johnny D.

  8. Jason Kulas says:

    Did you miss one of the Mac server software options…TwonkyMedia
    http://www.twonkyvision.com/Products/TwonkyMedia/index.html

    You might want to update the article

  9. Sean says:

    I’ve got to agree with Johnny D, medialink worked great for me up until a month ago. Now the program uses all available cpu and memory and it will only play approximately two songs before crashing. Nullriver also won’t respond to any issues. I’ve sent requests through their website every week for the past month with no response from them.

  10. d says:

    It’s all about http://www.mediatomb.cc

    Setup requires a bit of shell work but it’s well worth the effort. MT is the only thing that has been 99% reliable between my Mac and PS3.

    d, (mt)

  11. Brian says:

    Thanks for the post. Just got a PS3 yesterday and read your post an hour ago. I bought MediaLink immediately and got it working within 10 minutes. I give it two thumbs up for being easy to use and extremely effective in turning your PS3 into full blown home media entertainment unit. Just awesome.

  12. Peter says:

    Or just buy an Apple TV?

  13. Peters Aho says:

    Hmmm, spend $250 for a refurbished Apple TV or spend $20 for a program that works flawlessly if I already own a PS3?

    Hmmm……

    Such a tough decision.

    Or maybe not everyone is as smart as Peter.

  14. Brian says:

    I love this idea. I have most of my media in Video TS format and I am not crazy about using Handbrake and PS3 preset on them all. If I decide that the PS3 isn’t my end all solution I don’t want my entire movie collection in that form. What form should I put my files in that are the most “universal?”

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  51. Nate says:

    You may want to dump on Medialink and look at using PS3mediaserver. It is Java based but man does it play everything you throw at it. It even does MKV files way better than Tversity could ever imagine.

    http://blog.hillbillyhardware.net/?page_id=500

  52. Nate says:

    You may want to dump on Medialink and look at using PS3mediaserver. It is Java based but man does it play everything you throw at it. It even does MKV files way better than Tversity could ever imagine.

    http://blog.hillbillyhardware.net/?page_id=500

  53. Nate says:

    You may want to dump on Medialink and look at using PS3mediaserver. It is Java based but man does it play everything you throw at it. It even does MKV files way better than Tversity could ever imagine.

    http://blog.hillbillyhardware.net/?page_id=500

  54. Nate says:

    You may want to dump on Medialink and look at using PS3mediaserver. It is Java based but man does it play everything you throw at it. It even does MKV files way better than Tversity could ever imagine.

    http://blog.hillbillyhardware.net/?page_id=500

  55. Nate says:

    You may want to dump on Medialink and look at using PS3mediaserver. It is Java based but man does it play everything you throw at it. It even does MKV files way better than Tversity could ever imagine.

    http://blog.hillbillyhardware.net/?page_id=500

  56. Nate says:

    You may want to dump on Medialink and look at using PS3mediaserver. It is Java based but man does it play everything you throw at it. It even does MKV files way better than Tversity could ever imagine.

    http://blog.hillbillyhardware.net/?page_id=500

  57. Nate says:

    You may want to dump on Medialink and look at using PS3mediaserver. It is Java based but man does it play everything you throw at it. It even does MKV files way better than Tversity could ever imagine.

    http://blog.hillbillyhardware.net/?page_id=500

  58. Nate says:

    You may want to dump on Medialink and look at using PS3mediaserver. It is Java based but man does it play everything you throw at it. It even does MKV files way better than Tversity could ever imagine.

    http://blog.hillbillyhardware.net/?page_id=500

  59. Nate says:

    You may want to dump on Medialink and look at using PS3mediaserver. It is Java based but man does it play everything you throw at it. It even does MKV files way better than Tversity could ever imagine.

    http://blog.hillbillyhardware.net/?page_id=500

  60. Nate says:

    You may want to dump on Medialink and look at using PS3mediaserver. It is Java based but man does it play everything you throw at it. It even does MKV files way better than Tversity could ever imagine.

    http://blog.hillbillyhardware.net/?page_id=500

  61. Nate says:

    You may want to dump on Medialink and look at using PS3mediaserver. It is Java based but man does it play everything you throw at it. It even does MKV files way better than Tversity could ever imagine.

    http://blog.hillbillyhardware.net/?page_id=500