Playstation 3 Media Server Setup

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BONUS ROUND: Copy frequently used files to PS3

Even a super-fast 5GHz 802.11n network can’t match the speed of files that live on the PS3 itself. I put my favorite albums, photos, and movies on the PS3’s internal drive via ripping, network copying, and copying from memory cards and USB drives.

To copy files from an external drive, computer, or card to the PS3: Select the folder you want to copy, press Fn+OK on the diNovo or triangle on a SixAxis controller, and choose Copy. Unfortunately you can’t listen to music — or do anything else — during copying.

PS3 Copy Screenshot
PS3 Copy Screenshot

The PS3’s 80GB internal hard drive gives you about 65GB for your own media — roomy enough for over 500 albums in 320Kbps MP3 format, or nearly 100 full-length movies in AVI format. If you need more room, the PS3’s hard drive is easily upgradable with any 2.5-inch SATA notebook drive and a screwdriver.

Ripping CDs is painless, though you can’t rip DVDs directly on a PS3. Insert the disc, navigate to it in the PS3 menu, and hit Fn+OK on the diNovo or the triangle button on a SixAxis controller. Select Options – Import. To change the default encoding format and bit rate, go to Settings – Music Settings – Audio CD Import and choose AAC, MP3, or ATRAC, up to 320Kbps. It takes 3-4 minutes to rip a CD to 320Kbps MP3.

PS3 Import Screenshot
PS3 Import Screenshot

The PS3 automatically grabs the artist/song info for CDs from the Internet, and it picks up ID3 tags from music files. When you copy items to the PS3’s internal hard drive, they show up in the PS3 menus as folders arranged alphabetically.

Extra Points: Organize your content on the PS3 by navigating to any folder and hitting Fn+OK (diNovo) or the triangle button (SixAxis controller) to access the Options menu. Scroll up, select Group Content, and choose an ID3 tag to group folders by. This helped me out because the music I copied to my PS3 was in a mishmash of Artist and Album folders; grouping them by Artist made it much easier to find items in a long list. You can also sort folders from the Options menu.

PS3 Group Screenshot
PS3 Group Screenshot

Cheat Codes for Common Problems

If your Windows computer still can’t see your PS3, go to Control Panel – Administrative Tools – Services. Scroll down to Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service and double-click on it. If the service isn’t already started, click on the Start button. Then go to Control Panel – Windows Firewall, and click on Change Settings (Vista only), and click on the Exceptions tab (Vista/XP). Make sure the boxes next to “UPnP Framework” and “Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service” is checked.

On your PS3, you may see some DLNA protocol error notifications (we did). Sometimes this was because one of our computers had gone to sleep, and sometimes it remained a mystery. And operation can be quirky: For example, suddenly the PS3 might temporarily become unable to copy multiple items, or it won’t find all the subfolders in a folder. Odd problems like these usually disappear quickly. If they don’t, try restarting your media server software and PS3.

If you’ve run into any other problems using this guide, please let us know in the Comments section!

Play Online

Setting up your PlayStation 3 as a media server works great if you already own an entirely library of media on your Mac or PC, but with a wealth of streaming content from providers like CNN, Hulu and Comedy Central now hitting the Web, you don’t even have to rip or download shows to watch them online anymore.

Hulu Playstation 3

But what about on the PS3?

When the PS3 was originally released, streaming media was still in its infancy. Users had limited options, and were forced to use the console’s built-in browser to access their favorite streaming services. Thanks to a steady stream of firmware updates, the PS3 can now stream stuff like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, Amazon, NHL, MLB.TV, and NFL Sunday Ticket just by downloading their respective apps.

All done? Time to sit back, relax, and veg out.

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