Over the last few days, I’ve been trying to stream TV from a Media Center PC I have. My first thought was to buy a Slingbox, but I’d rather not spend the $200+ to get the box and all the equipment needed to get it up and running.
My second thought was doing a remote desktop connection to that machine from my MacBook. This worked great (after reformatting the computer and all that good stuff), but the problem is Windows does not let you stream video via remote desktop connection. Damn it!
After doing some research, I managed to come across WebGuide. It’s an awesome tool that allows you to control your Media Center PC via the web. Plus you can stream live TV and watch recorded shows. Perfect!
Best of all, it’s completely free of charge. The hardest part is getting it setup and working on your computer. Here’s a breakdown of what I did to get it up and running:
1. Install WebGuide on the Media Center PC
The first step is downloading the WebGuide software on the Media Center PC. This is what configures everything to work via the web. It’s a pretty simple install and there are not many things you have to choose when going through the installation.
2. Configure WebGuide
The next step after the install is configuring the WebGuide software. This is where you have to setup users, configure the ports to use, along with a bunch of other stuff. Make sure to create a user otherwise it will not allow you save any of your settings.
3. Configure Your Router
One of the most important steps in getting this software to work is properly forwarding the correct ports in your router. Most routers allow you to access the setup screen via entering the IP address in a browser connected to the router. An example would be something like this:
Once you are logged in to the router, you should have an option somewhere to configure/forward ports. Here is what the router I was working with looked like:
By default, you need to forward both 2372 and 2373 to the machine you will be streaming from. If you forget to do this, it WILL NOT work no matter what you try. I literally tried everything before remembering to do this.
4. Connect To The Computer Via the Web
Once the router is setup, you should now be able to access your Media Center remotely from anywhere in the world. However, you will need to know the IP address of your router in order to make the connection. Keep in mind that this is not the same IP address as the one the router is giving your PC.
A simple way to find your IP addres is to go to this website: http://whatismyip.com/
Once you have the IP address, you can then type it into your web browser in this format:
If you changed the default port to something other than 2372, you will need to change it in the address to match otherwise it will not work.
At this point, you should see the login screen which looks like this:
Simply enter a username and password that you created in step two to get started.
5. Start Using WebGuide!
If you were able to log in successfully, you can now start managing your Media Center via the web. The interface is awesome looking and does a good job of mimicking the real Media Center display. The guide is super easy to use and looks like this:
Just a word of caution when trying to steam Live TV. I have not been able to get it to work on my Mac since it does use Windows Media Player to play everything. I have it installed on my Mac but it still doesn’t want to work.
I ended up using Parallels to access it and it works fine when I set it to “Open Directly in Media Player.” It pops up in a little window and looks like this:
As you can see, I’m streaming Home Improvement. Sweetness!
So Far, So Good
I’ve only been using it for a day but it’s working good so far. The quality is not the greatest but I was expecting that when I set it up. If you have a very high speed internet connection on both ends, you will most likely get great results. I have DSL on both ends and am stuck using the medium option which sort of resembles a YouTube video.
I might still save up for the SlingBox just because it will provide better quality video, but this will work in the mean time. I highly recommend trying it out if you have a Media Center PC with a TV tuner in it.