Playstation 3 Media Server Setup

PS3 Super Slim

This guide has been updated since its original publication to reflect hardware and software updates. Multiple members of the Digital Trends staff contributed to this guide. 

Like many people living in the digital age, my digital media was scattered among various drives, computers, and discs. I wanted seamless central control over all of it, so I decided to use my Sony PlayStation 3 as a media hub, with my 40-inch Samsung HDTV as a monitor. Now I can view or listen to all my photos, videos, and music via my TV screen, no matter where they are. Here’s a guide to building a digital media command center in your living room.

LEVEL 1: Connect to your home network

In the PS3’s main menu, navigate to Settings – Network Settings – Internet Connection, press X on your SixAxis controller and make sure it’s toggled to Enabled. Then go to Internet Connection Settings (also under Network Settings), and select your network name (SSID). Enter the network password if you have one.

ps3-enable-internet-connect-650x0

If you have the original WiFi-less PS3 20GB, you can still connect it to your network by plugging the console into your router or extender (like an Apple Airport Express) via Ethernet cable.

Bonus Points: A Logitech diNovo mini Bluetooth keyboard comes in very handy for entering network passwords and any other text. There’s a complete guide to pairing and using it with a PS3 here.The pairing process is very similar to setting up a Bluetooth headset on a cell phone. You can check out our full Logitech diNovo mini review.

Logitch DiNova Front copy

Extra Life: If your network consists exclusively of 802.11n-compatible hardware, bypass the PS3’s slower (802.11b/g) wireless connection by plugging it directly into your router or an extender (we used an Airport Express) via Ethernet cable. Adjust your router’s wireless settings to operate in 802.11n mode only. And if all your hardware supports it, switch to the 5GHz frequency band for a 60-100 percent speed bump and less interference. This can be a lifesaver when you’re copying lots of files to your PS3 over a network.

LEVEL 2: Connect to your computers

Go into the PS3’s Settings menu and navigate to Network Settings – Media Server Connection, and select Enabled. This allows the PS3 to detect networked computers running Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) server software.

Playstation Media Server Connection
Playstation Media Server Connection

WINDOWS 7/Vista: Windows users have a number of useful options when it comes to serving media files from their PCs. The latest version of Windows Media Player is generally the easiest option because it comes preinstalled with Windows, but a number of third-party applications also exist that offer better file compatibility and more advanced features. Plex and PS3 Media Server are two extremely popular packages that transcode file formats the PS3 doesn’t natively support. For instance, the PlayStation 3 doesn’t natively support playback of lossless FLAC files, but Plex will transcode them into other compatible formats on the fly.

For this particular tutorial, we used Plex. If you have media on either a Mac or a Windows computer (or both), we recommend Plex for its cross-platform compatibility, its clean and easily navigable interface and all the advanced connectivity features you can get. Oh, and did we mention it’s free?

First, you’ll need to download Plex. You can do that here for OSX and here for Windows. The important one is the Plex Media Server. The Plex Media Center is optional, but if you’re in the market for a new media center, it’s definitely worth a look.

After you’ve downloaded the Plex Media Server, click through all the necessary setup windows to install it. Following installation you’ll need to add media to your library. This process differs a bit for Windows and Mac.

MAC: After you’ve successfully installed the Plex Media Server, an icon in the shape of a black chevron should appear in your menu bar. Click on it to access a drop down menu and then choose Plex Media Manager.

A window will appear. At the bottom left you should see + and – buttons. Click on the plus button to add media. From here, you’ll need to tell Plex where your media is located. You can either drag folders into the list or click the + button to browse your folders in Finder. Find the right folders for your media and click Open to add them to Plex.

Plex

WINDOWS: After a successful install, a Plex icon will appear in your taskbar in the lower left. Select it and then click Plex Media Manager in the popup menu.

This will open up a new window in your default browser. From this point onward it’s simple. Just click on the sections for which you’d like to add media (movies, music, tv shows, etc.) and a drop-down window will appear. Click the Add button to add media. Another window will appear and you’ll be prompted to select the path to the folder where your media is. This can be done manually or by browsing your files.

Plex-UI-Movies

Achievement: Use Plex’s list of metadata agents to find album art for your music, and posters pics for your movies. The added aesthetic makes everything look even more gorgeous. 

LEVEL 3: Connect to extra storage

This part is simple — just plug in your thumb drive or USB hard drive to any of the PS3’s USB ports. My 300GB Maxtor USB hard drive showed up as “USB Disk (One Touch II)” in the PS3’s video, photo, and music menus. When navigating a USB drive’s folders, use the PS3 menu corresponding to the type of media you’re looking for on the drive, or the files won’t show up.

USB Device Connected Screenshot
USB Device Connected

External drives must be formatted with the FAT32 file system for the PS3 to read files on it. Formatting a drive erases all the data on it, so if your PS3 won’t read your drive, make sure to back up all data before you format.

Memory cards (Memory Stick, SD and its variants, or CompactFlash) go in the labeled slots under the door on the PS3’s front, and they don’t require specific formatting. ‘

Secret weapon: If you have a network-attached storage device (like an Apple Time Capsule with a 500GB hard drive in it), you can access it by mounting the drive on a networked computer. Then select your media server in the main PS3 window, and navigate to Folders – Volumes, and select the networked drive you want. Note that this doesn’t work with Windows Media Player’s UPnP server, but it works fine with Plex.

PS3 Accessing the Network Drive
PS3 Accessing the Network Drive

LEVEL 4: Start watching and listening

Access your content by navigating to Photo, Video, or Music on the PS3’s home screen, and scroll until you see your computer or external drive. If you don’t see your computer’s media server listed, try selecting “Search for Media Servers” from any of the multimedia menus.

PS3 Codec Support

Video: MPG, MP4, AVI, DivX (except v3.11), AVCHD, WMV

Audio: WAV, MP3, AAC, ATRAC, WMA

Photo: JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PNG

Not supported: Protected content, lossless audio formats (Apple Lossless, FLAC, etc.), RAW image files, or VOB movie files.

Next page: How to copy frequently used files to your PS3 and other tips.

Home Theater

Plex is the latest player to contemplate the subscription streaming game

With massive reach thanks to its client app being supported virtually every media device on the planet, Plex is now looking at the future of its media curation platform. A future that may include free and subscription services.
Gaming

Xbox app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Computing

Don't use streaming apps? Try the best free media players for your local music

Rather than using music-streaming apps, you may want something for playing your local music. Good news! There are some good alternatives. These are the best media players you can download for free on Windows.
Computing

You could be gaming on AMD’s Navi graphics card before the end of the summer

If you're waiting for a new graphics card from AMD that doesn't cost $700, you may have to wait for Navi. But that card may not be far away, with new rumors suggesting we could see a July launch.
Gaming

Sharing your best gameplay moments is quick and easy on the Xbox One

The current generation of consoles make it easier than ever to share your gaming highlights with the world. Here's a quick guide on how you can record a gameplay video on Xbox One.
Gaming

Blizzard’s latest hiring spree is likely for the unannounced ‘Diablo 4’

Activision Blizzard is hiring for more than a dozen positions on unannounced Diablo projects. Some of the roles are likely for the unannounced Diablo 4, the next mainline entry in the series.
Gaming

Everything we know about 'Red Dead Online', including the new mode Gun Rush

Red Dead Online will gradually rolled out to Red Dead Redemption 2 players via a beta. We've got all the details about the beta's suite of competitive and cooperative modes, as well as what to expect going forward.
Gaming

Xbox One X vs. PS4 Pro: Which console is more powerful?

Far from cooling down, the console wars are only getting more intense. We compare Microsoft's Xbox One X to Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro to help you decide which premium console is right for you.
Gaming

Fortnite V-Bucks being used by criminals for money laundering on dark web

Criminals are using Fortnite's V-Bucks for money laundering schemes on the dark web. Epic Games, apparently, is not doing enough to prevent the game from being used for the illegal activity.
Gaming

Relive the 8-bit gaming era with the best NES emulators for Android and PC

For years prior to the release of the NES Classic, emulators have offered a means to every NES game ever created without needing the console. Here are the best NES emulators for Android and PC.
Gaming

Mortal Kombat 11 Kollector’s Edition comes with a life-size Scorpion mask

The Mortal Kombat 11 Kollector's Edition will come with a human-sized replica of the mask of Scorpion, one of the most iconic fighters of the series. NetherRealm Studios has also announced the game's preorder bonuses.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Gaming

These are the best indie games you can get on PC right now

Though many indie games now come to consoles as well, there's still a much larger selection on PC. With that in mind, we've created a list of the best indie games for PC, with an emphasis on games that are only available on PC.
1 of 2