How To: Turn your Wii to a Media Center.

I love the Wii, it has to be one of the most flexible pieces of hardware ever released. I have come across tons of things you can do with the little marvel and this is probably one of my favorite.

All you need is a couple of free pieces of software, and the Wii web browser. The Wii will need to be on your home network, and you need to know how to find out your PC’s local network IP. You can do this by going to Start > Run and typing in CMD and pressing enter. At the command prompt that comes up, type in ipconfig and then press enter. The local IP should be the one called “IP Address”. This is dependant on how you have your home network set up. If your network is setup differently than the usual home network, consult the tech/person/family member/abused friend that set it up.

If you have the Wii internet browser, you may have noticed that you can play internet videos, although a limited selection. YouTube seems to work fine, however, the limiting factor is that the Wii browser only plays version 7 flash videos. Regardless, it does play videos, and that means if you have the right version of videos, your Wii can play them.

The first piece of software we need is the Wii Media Center X. This is in alpha stage of development, however I have not found any major glitches that prevent video playing. This software creates a mini web server that runs on your PC. Once you install it, it should be good to go, but you may want to reboot your PC just to make sure. Currently the Wii Media Center doesn’t support music, but we will cover that later.

The second piece is Wii Video 9, brought to you by the same guys who are developing the Wii Media Center X. This is a lovely piece of software that can convert most web videos to a Wii friendly format. By default it wants to format videos into .avi, which are not always Wii friendly. My suggestion is using “Current Conversion” tab (not the wizard), and using the “Convert Video” button. Then set your profile to the FLV format without the AviSynth. I have had alot of good luck out of this format

Once you have the video you want to add, and you have it converted (if needed) then just place it in the “videos” folder of your Wii Media Center X installation and it will now show up on the Media Center under the “My Videos” page. If you do not have any videos yet, I will tell you how to get some in just a bit. To view the Media Center, point your Wii browser to your PC’s IP with the port set to 8192. This is done by typing it in as a web address, i.e. 192.168.1.1:8192. The 192.168.1.1 represents your PC IP, so change it as necessary, and then the colon 8192 directs it to the correct port. You should now see the Media Center front page. Just select My Videos and enjoy.

So now you have everything you need to play a personal collection of videos on your Wii, but where will you get these videos. Well let’s say you have a friend with a website who has some really cool YouTubeish type videos, and he has given you permission to download these videos if you can. Well as we all know, YouTubeish videos aren’t the easist to just download. In fact, you shouldn’t download actual YouTube videos since they will most likely be copyright protected. Hence, why we will use your friends page. Just download the Orbit Download Manager with Grab++ support. If you go to a page with a flash video embedded while Grab++ is running, it will detect where the video is on the server and allow you to download it to your hard drive. You may have to do some scavaging to find out which video detected is the video you want, since it will also detect flash based advertisments. Once you use the program for a while though, you’ll figure it out.

Now what if you have music you want to play on your Wii? Well since the Wii Media Center X doesn’t support music yet, let’s look to an old favorite, WinAmp. Just get the latest version and install the AjaxAMP WinAmp plugin and you’re good to go. AjaxAMP creates a Wii friendly page that lists your MP3/Music collection and makes them playable. Once you have AjaxAMP configured just use the same method above to get to the WinAMP music page, you just need to use port 5151. So an example would be 192.168.1.1:5151.

There you have it, just another neat trick to be done with everyone’s favorite console!

Download Wii Media Center X
Download Wii Video 9
Download Orbit Download Manager
Download AjaxAMP

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