Stream And Watch Your Movies Anywhere

11/5/2012 1:37:53 AM

Discover how to access your media on tablets and smartphones, wherever you are

If you own an Android tablet, you already have everything necessary to enjoy a world of media and entertainment on the move. However, if your movies and media are stored on a PC or NAS drive at home, you can stream them to your Android tablet, so you can lie in bed and watch the latest blockbusters with the minimum of fuss. What’s more, with one app purchase, you can watch those movies anywhere in the world! Setting this content up doesn’t have to be hard, so let us walk you through everything you need to know.

Let’s try to break this down so that troubleshooting is easier. This may be a little basic, but we have to cover everything so it’s clear. Every device on your home network is given a 32-dit IP address. This is written as four numbers going up to 255 as Internal networks often use or On top of this, Windows runs its File Sharing services, its new Homegroup sharing service and any UPnP or sharing services.

Description: Plex is a great way to share media with all your Androd mobile devices

Plex is a great way to share media with all your Androd mobile devices

Understanding ports

IP addresses tend not to be an issue – they’re provided automatically from your router using its DCHP server, which everything supports. More troublesome are ports, used to identify incoming services, such as a specific streaming media service, for example. Ideally, the UPnP aspect of a router and Windows should detect the correct service on each device but this isn’t always the case. If not, you can configure port forwarding or app/game services within your router. This means any external device trying to make contact on that port is forwarded to the correct internal IP address. The program documentation should say what the port number is – for example, Plex, the app we’re using, is port 32400 – and this should be pointed to the server running the service.

If you’re planning a trip away and fancy testing the streaming, then a mobile phone is an excellent test bed, because the mobile network is going to connect externally from your home network. That’s beside the fact you could be using it as a Wi-Fi hotspot or tether option. Many of the more advanced streaming apps provide systems that don’t require you to know the broadband IP address. For example,iOS Air Video provides you with a unique PIN, Plex maintains a dedicated account system, and SplashTop uses you Google credentials. If you still need your broadband IP address, it’s easy to find it out – simply type what’s my IP into Google and the search results will tell you.

For access inside a home network, shared access on a ‘dumb’ NAS drive capable of running a DLNA/UPnP server should be adequate, since all the processing can be done on either the remote PC or the device accessing it. If you’re dealing with chunky HD files or a fancy streaming service, however, a local server is required. His could be just a laptop or an old PC box left running that can access the NAS or is directly sharing the files. Nothing more than the base broadband router is really necessary, but wireless capabilities obviously help a lot. You’ll need to be able to configure the router, usually using a web browser and its base IP address.

Windows and nas sharing

1.    Windows Homegroup

Description: Windows Homegroup

Microsoft introduced Homegroup to Windows 7, but it doesn’t play along that well with other operating systems, so for complete control, you’ll want to use old-school Windows file sharing. This enables you to share individual folders wherever you want to, with as many people as you want, and with or without passwords.

2.    Configure Windows File Sharing

Description: Configure Windows File Sharing

Click ‘Start’, type Manage Advanced Sharing and click the top link. Under ‘Home and Work’, make sure ‘Discovery’ and ‘File Sharing’ are both on. If you want password-free access, enable ‘Public Folder Sharing’. To disable Homegroups, choose the ‘Use user accounts’ option and select ‘Turn off password protected sharing’.

3.    Folder sharing and per missions

Description: Folder sharing and per missions

To share, right-click the folder, select ‘Properties >Sharing> Advanced Sharing... ‘then tick ‘Share this folder’. To enable password access, click ‘Permissions>Add>Advanced>Find now’. Locate your user account, then click ‘OK’. Make sure ‘Everyone’ has been removed, provide Full Control permissions and click ‘OK>OK>Close’.

4.    Create a specific user

Description: Create a specific user

Right-click on ‘My Computer > Manage > Local Users > User’, right-click a blank space in the snap-in area, then select ‘New User...’ Choose a log-in name and password for the user, then adjust the extra password settings. Right-click the shared folder, select ‘Share with > Specific People’, enter the name of the new user and then click ‘Share’.

5.    Create a permanent network share

Description: Create a permanent network share

If you want remote network shares available at all times, the easiest option is to add a mounted network location. This used to be called mapping, but under Windows 7 and Windows Vista you just add a network location to the My Computer window. Right-click a blank area of the My Computer windows and choose ‘Add a network location’.

6.    NAS configuration/service

Description: NAS configuration/service

If you’re using a NAS drive to share files, its configuration is usually done via a web browser using its IP address. NAS features vary from device to device, but you’ll be able to create a ‘folder’ on the NAS with a shared name and log-in credentials. This will then appear and be accessible on your network just like any other Windows shared folder.

Stream to an android device

1.    Install the Plex Sever

Description: Install the Plex Sever

We’ve used Plex as our streaming server. It’s available for Android, iOS, LG Smart devices and Windows and Mac OS X desktops. Go to a copy of the software for your version of Windows and install it on the system that’s going to be the server. You’ll need o point it to your media folders and let it scan them.

2.    Install Plex on a device

Description: Install Plex on a device

We’re looking at Plex on the Android platform, since that covers the widest range of available phones and tablets. The app itself costs just $3.22 and it’s also available on iOS for around the same price, so there’s no reason to miss out. Fire up the Wi-Fi on the device, connect it to the network and allow it to detect the server and connect.

3.    Configure Plex

Description: Configure Plex

On the server, Plex lives in the Notification Area. Double-click its icon and the browser-based interface appears. Click ‘Preferences’ in the top-right and then select ‘myPlex’. There’s an option to create a Plex account so servers can be automatically allocated. Do this before you start streaming your media to make things easier.

4.    Ports forward

Description: Ports forward

If you have a terrible router (one that says it supports UPnP, but actually doesn’t), you’ll need to forward ports on it yourself. You need to access your broadband router, which is usually done by entering its IP address in a web browser. The website http://portforward.comprovides specific instructions for accessing a range of models.

5.    Hotspot testing

Description: Hotspot testing

We’re going to assume you know how to stream content on your local server. If you’re not sure, the Plex site has lots of documentation. The system is designed to auto detect and play nicely. If you have a phone with data allocation, test it by firing it up and either running Plex directly on it it’s an Android device, or using it as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

6.    Bandwidth testing

Description: Bandwidth testing

Now try streaming video to your device. If you’re testing HD media, you’ll run into bandwidth and decoding issues. The Plex server provides transcoding to reduce bandwidth usage, and on the device you can specify rates for 3G transfer, along side Wi-Fi, but anything external to the network shouldn’t exceed the upload speeds.

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