Streaming video or music from services like YouTube or Pandora is great for sampling a wide variety of stuff, but sometimes all you want is media from your own collection. Here's a look at five great solutions for streaming your personal media.
Photo by Sean Rogers.
The focus this week is on personal; all these tools are designed to stream from your personal collection of media to elsewhere on your home network, over the internet, or both.
Subsonic (Windows/Mac/Linux, Free)
Subsonic is best know for rock-solid music streaming over the internet to web browsers and other supported devices, but unbeknownst to many, it can also stream any video format that supports HTTP streaming, such as AAC. Subsonic supports plugins for transcoding tasks which makes it easy to adapt to new formats. Although many people use it for local streaming around their home network, you can access Subsonic remotely using the web-based interface or grab one of the Subsonic apps for Android and iOS devices. Subsonic is free, but in order to use it in conjunction with any of the mobile apps beyond the 30 day trial, you'll need to "donate" to the Subsonic project to get a licence key; donations start at around $US15 USD.
Air Video (Windows/Mac/iOS, $3.99)
Air Video is a dead-simple streaming solution for iOS devices. Rather than go through the hassle of re-encoding all your media for playback on your iOS device, Air Video transcodes it on the fly to turn your iPhone or iPad into a mobile media centre. You install the server software on your Mac or PC, install the $US2.99 application your iOS device, and enjoy easy file browsing and streaming media. If you want to try it out before dropping the $4, take it for a test drive with the free demo, which limits you to streaming the first 3-5 media files in each folder.
Audiogalaxy (Windows/Mac/Android/iOS, Free)
Unlike some of the other entries in this week's Hive Five that do double duty, streaming audio and video, Audiogalaxy remains completely focused on streaming music. You sign up for a free account at Audiogalaxy, install the server software on your Windows or Mac Machine, and get instant and organised music streaming to a remote web browser or your mobile device. Audiogalaxy includes drag and drop playlist creation, easy music search, and meta-data repair to help you clean up your sloppy music collection. As an especially nice perk, both the Android and iOS streaming apps are free.
Orb Live (Windows/Mac/Android/iOS, $US12.99)
Orb Live is a hybrid solution for streaming to mobile devices. You install the Orb Live server software on your Windows or Mac computer, then you install the Orb Live streaming app on your Android or iOS device. All media accessible to your computer is then accessible to your mobile device: photos, music, movies—even live television if your computer has a tuner card. The server software is a free download and the mobile app for both Android and iOS is $12.99. Orb provides a demo version if you'd like to try it out before buying (Android/iOS), but the demo just picks three random media samples from your server to show off the technology, so it really is only good for testing purposes.
PS3 Media Server (Windows/Linux, Free)
PS3 Media Server was built to do exactly what it sounds like: transcode and stream media from your computer to a PS3 hooked up to your TV. Although that sounds fairly limited in scope, a lot of people like it for two principal reasons: It transcodes and streams video to the PS3 extremely well, but more importantly, the project very recently has branched out to other devices. People who have struggled with finding a good streaming solution for their PS3 units rave about how it's the best thing out there. Although the originally intended for just the PS3, as of earlier this year the PS3 Media Server beta releases have included support for other devices such as network-connected televisions.