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With all the hoopla surrounding the Apple TV, many Mac owners are unaware that an easy device for streaming iTunes media may already be sitting in their entertainment system. All three of the latest game consoles—PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii—are capable of streaming media from your Mac to your television over your existing network.
However, just to be clear: None of these consoles can play DRM-protected files bought from the iTunes Store. To stream those, you still need the Apple TV. (Or just remove the FairPlay DRM from the files first—see “Hardcore How-Tos”)
What You Need: Current-generation game console (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or Nintendo Wii) attached to your home network, Mac, also on your home network, additional software depending on which console you use (noted in the steps below) and video files loaded into iTunes.
Xbox 360 and Connect360
Your Xbox 360 can already play videos stored on its hard drive or on USB drives connected to it. Nullriver’s Connect360 ($20, www.nullriver.com) fools your Xbox 360 into believing your Mac is a Windows machine running Windows Media Center. Setup is dead simple and only requires a Mac running Mac OS 10.3.9 or later, an Xbox 360 (duh), iTunes, and iPhoto if you want to stream photos to your TV, too.
1 The Xbox Connection
Connect360 lives in your System Preferences.
Download and unzip Connect360, then double-click Connect360.prefPane. System Preferences will launch and ask on which accounts to install the utility. Make your selections and click Install. The Connect360 Preference will load. Click the Start button and the app will display your active services: iTunes, iPhoto, and the Movies folder. Once the application finds your Xbox 360 on the network, it’ll appear in the Discovered Devices area.
2 Blade IV: The Media Center
Thanks to Connect360, our Xbox thinks the Mac on our network is really a Windows PC. (As if.)
Navigate to the Media Blade on your Xbox 360. Click Videos, click Connect360, and choose Macintosh: Connect360 when prompted to choose a source. The next screen shows two folders of videos: iTunes Movies (for videos that reside in your Mac’s iTunes Library) and Movies Folder (for videos in . . . wait for it . . . your Mac’s Movies folder). A complete list of formats supported by Connect360 is at www.nullriver.com/products/connect360.
3 Let the Streaming Begin
Your videos are in these folders. See? Streaming video really is child’s play.
A list of your videos is now available within your Xbox 360. You may have to update your Xbox’s software in order to watch H.264 videos, and the console will prompt you to do so. There are downsides: Television shows are displayed by the episode names and not the actual show title, for example.