Streaming Media Over Your LAN to Your Tablet

Discussion in 'Android Tablet Usage, Tips & Tricks' started by OffWorld, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. OffWorld
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    OffWorld Junior Member

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    I have a media center computer with all my videos and music ripped onto it. It is a centralized server I can access over my LAN/Wi-Fi from every computer in the house. I've played videos stored on the media center over wi-fi on my laptop before, I thought it would be cool to do it with my Android Tablet too. And I CAN! Here's how:

    You don't need any special software for this on your desktop computer. I've tested this with Windows 7 Pro and Linux Mint 9. Should work with other versions of Windows and any Linux distro with Samba file sharing. It should work with a Mac too, I just haven't tried setting that up yet.

    First, you have to go to your desktop/media center computer(s) and find out what their IP addresses are. If you have DHCP on your router, though, these can change but I've found the computers in my house seem to generally get assigned the same IP again and again. If you assign static IPs to your computers with your router you won't have to worry about that. Anyway, once you have the IP address(es) written down you need to set up the shared folders.

    On Windows and Linux this is actually pretty easy - you right+click on the folder you want to share, go to the "sharing" tab, enable sharing it, give it a network name if you need to, and set the permissions to access the folder. I have had zero luck getting Android to actually authenticate for password access to folders on either Windows or Linux, so I had to make sure I set it so the folder didn't require a password to access. I'd also recommend NOT allowing users to change or delete files in the shared folder(s). It should be ok to leave them without password protection - these aren't critical system folders, you're granting "read only" access, and if your LAN and Wi-Fi are properly secured nobody you don't want to will be accessing them anyway.

    So I shared the "Videos" and "Music" folders on my desktop computers and verified each of them and all the other computers on my home network can access those shared folders. Yay! Now, on to Android--->

    If you don't already have it, download "ES File Explorer" and launch it. Press the "Menu" button and select "Show Tabs." You'll see three tabs across the top:
    1. Tablet Icon (access /nand and /sdcard)
    2. Computer (LAN shares)
    3. Network Folder (FTP Server)

    Press the 2nd Tab. It should tell you to press Menu>New>Server - so do that.
    You'll get a configuration window titled "New/Edit Samba Server"

    Enter the IP address of the computer on your LAN you want to access. You can either point it directly into a single shared folder on the computer OR you can just leave it at the IP address and it will show ALL the shared folders on that computer (I prefer the latter method). If you set your folders so they don't require a password all you need to do is click the "Anonymous" checkbox. Enter a name for the computer if you want, otherwise it will just show the IP address (if your network uses DHCP you may want to just leave it at the IP number since it could potentially point to a different computer with different shared folders than the one it is pointing to right now). Click "OK"

    You should now see it in the list of LAN shares in the ES File Explorer window. Click on it, and if all is set up correctly, you'll see either a list of the files in the subfolder (if you pointed it directly into one folder) or a list of all the shared folder on that computer!

    MP3 files can be played over the network directly in the ES File Explorer. However, on my tablet the screen goes completely black (it's not turned off though) while the music is playing. So you have no controls - it will just start playing whatever MP3 file you clicked, and won't stop until you hit the "Back" button, which takes you back to the LAN Shares file list.

    WMV files can also be played over the network - it will launch a video player. You'll probably want to turn the device into landscape mode before you start playing a file - I found that sometimes turning the device after the video had started caused the picture to break (it still kept playing though).

    Other audio/video file formats probably won't stream. It will say the file format isn't supported or that it has to download it to the tablet before it can play it (kind of defeats the point). I only tested MP3, WMV, DIVX, and AVI. My tablet WILL play all of those formats if the files are on the device, but it would only stream WMV and MP3 over my network. If you find other file formats that stream let me know!
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  2. xaueious
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    xaueious Administrator Staff Member

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  3. OffWorld
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    OffWorld Junior Member

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    Audiogalaxy looks dead simple to set up but it would require me to keep my computer on all the time to access my music when away from home, and it seems a little silly when I am at home to stream out to the 'net and back inside my house. Unless I'm misunderstanding how Audiogalaxy works.

    I'm sure VLC Stream & Convert can handle lots of audio/video formats - I love the main VLC program and already have it installed on my media center computer. I probably won't have any problems getting it running, but it looks a little complicated to set up for the average user who only knows how to share folders on their "Network Neighborhood."

    Same goes for the cifs stuff, at least from what I've read over at xda-dev, it looks like you need a rooted tablet and a certain degree of comfort with the command line and busybox.
  4. xaueious
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    xaueious Administrator Staff Member

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    Audiogalaxy does require keeping the computer on, but it will stream like it's supposed to...
  5. AnimaTechnica
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    AnimaTechnica Junior Member

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    excellent thread guys. Really appreciate the pointers
  6. OffWorld
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    OffWorld Junior Member

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    Ok, I'm a glutton for punishment I guess - I wanted to see if I could actually get an FLV file to play on my M701-R Android 2.1 tablet. Short answer: Yes. But not well.

    Long answer:
    Obviously with Android 2.1 I'm not going to get Flash working on this (have had zero luck even with Flash Lite stuff, so that also rules out any of the FLV player apps that requires Flash plugin be installed). "Rock Player" was the first one I found claiming to play FLV files, but the first version I downloaded wouldn't install. "Universal RockPlayer" from the Market does install and work, but it will only play with the "software decoder" so the video is VERY choppy and the sound is laughingly out of sync.

    I read that "Wuzhenhua Player" could do it (overlooking for the moment that the interface is in Chinese) but the official one wouldn't install. The folks over at xda-developers released a translated version of it "WuzenhuaPlayer3.2_EN.apk" that does install and work - but it's terribly unstable, doesn't work well in landscape mode, and can't play videos fullscreen, and is crash-prone (at one point it froze and I had to turn off my tablet with the main switch on the side). Yes, it did play the FLV files I threw at it - still a bit choppy and out of sync, but nowhere near as bad as RockPlayer had been.

    Searching a bit more I found out they renamed Wuzhenhua to "SuperPlayer" and found the 1.0.7 apk (no idea if this is the same as the $1.99 one in Market). It plays the FLV files too, and will play them fullscreen. Only a little choppy viewed small (about the size it would be in portrait, but it still plays it in landscape), a little more choppy and sound slightly out of sync at the default size, and a little more choppy and even more out of sync when expanded to fullscreen. SuperPlayer is also kind of unstable on my tablet, and typically took three tries and some "force quits" before I could actually watch the video.

    I'm guessing that the Chinese players, like RockPlayer, can't take advantage of hardware decoding for FLV files which is why they're so choppy and out of sync. It makes me wonder how FLV plays on these devices when they have Android 2.2 (the "unofficial" testing rom) and Flash installed?

    Why would I bother? Well, I have seasons of TV shows on my media center in FLV format and I didn't want to have to transcode them if I wanted to take some of them with me (thinking of next week and a long, boring car ride for Thanksgiving holiday). While I'm at home I could do as was suggested earlier in this thread and use VLC to transcode them on the fly and stream them over my LAN, but that doesn't help me in a car hundreds of miles from home where I have no network.

    So, for now, it looks like I'm going to have to just bite the bullet and transcode the videos into some other format. It occurs to me that if I transcode them into WMV format I can put those on my media center and from then on I'll also be able to stream those files over my LAN without having to set up anything else (since I already have file sharing set up that will stream .WMV files).
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2010
  7. strider_mt2k
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    strider_mt2k Junior Member

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    (Go figure I hit the web with my question and I'm lead back here where I should have looked first! -Lesson there!)

    I've looked at the solutions available for the issue of accessing shared media folders over a Windows 7 network on my Android tablet, and I find them to all be workarounds for what should be a fairly straightforward network connection.
    Of course I realize that this is essentially a mobile phone OS at the moment, and that this kind of networking isn't a priority because of the potential security risks, etc.

    I have a rapidly filling 3TB server, and no wish to play the conversion game. (I got tired of that back in the Palm OS era of mobiles.)
    It's disappointing in a way to think that I'm going to HAVE to go with a Win7 tablet or convertible simply to have everything work the way I want it to, but that would also keep all my machines in the same environment.

    This issue and battery life are two of the major things that keep an Android tablet from becoming that always-carried personal device I would really like it to be. :(
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2011
  8. JGreen7
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    GMote is pretty awesome, it needs better file support but the idea is cool. I'm not sure if it's available for tablets, I can't see why it wouldn't work though. I've got it on my phone and it lets me use my screen as a touchpad for my computer. I can also make my computer start a playlist from another room, good for surprising others in the room. It even streams certain video and audio files to your device so you don't need to store huge quantities of data to have access to your digital collection. Worth a look as it's dead easy to set up.

    Like Audiogalaxy you do need to keep the computer on to stream stuff, I think the computer and mobile/tablet both need to be on the same WiFi connection too.
  9. davawt
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    davawt Junior Member

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    Hi Great piece of info, I can now wifi my PC, brilliant.:eek:
    My tablet is a Wits A81
    Take care, bye
    davawt
  10. TabletPCPro
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    Last edited: Dec 8, 2011
  11. mvancil
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    I installed an NFS server on my PC (Hanewin NFS server - NMTWiki) than I used MountNFS to mount the shares to a subdirectory of my sdcard (/sdcard/shares)

    Than I am able to access all files on the network share as if they were local on the tablet.
  12. Bluedevil678
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    Bluedevil678 Junior Member

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    AndFTP is a great tool for accessing FTP servers too :)
  13. Mr.Miyagi
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    Mr.Miyagi Junior Member

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    Greetings, this is my first post on the forum and I hope that my reply will be able to help some people out there. I've recently purchased the Asus Transformer TF101 and have been going through the ringer as far as getting media to stream on the tablet in a manner I would like (good quality, no lag). I finally figured something out--albeit not tested fully with all formats--that has been able to work to a great deal of satisfaction. What I did was follow the procedure at the beginning of this thread, but with a small difference. I used MX Player to finally be able to stream my avi's. The whole process went as follows:

    1. Installed ES Explorer
    2. Pointed it to my HTPC via IP address
    3. Installed MX Video Player
    4. Ran the movie I wanted and viola it works! If not just touch and hold on the file and hit open as.. then the video player you want.

    Honestly, I've been all over the place trying to find a free way to get this to work. Thanks everyone for your tips and the great forum.
  14. Berto1
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    Berto1 Junior Member

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    There's an app on Google Play called AudioStreamer that does LAN music streaming

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