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  1.    #1  
    I've been playing with (ok, obsessing over) my shiny new 32gb Touchpad for almost two weeks now. I have discovered like most of you that my new hotness has some shortcomings. Especially in the video playing and storage departments.

    Don't get me wrong. Videos look great on the Touchpad's screen and you can stream videos from the websites using flash and html 5 like Youtube, Hulu, Crackle, Amazon Video, and Vevo just fine. You can't do that on the iPad2. However, playing videos from your personal video library is anything but easy.

    First off the Touchpad's native video player will only play mp4 or m4v videos. That is if it could actually find them on your Touchpad (read about mp4 videos in this forum to see what I mean). If you are like me you have a large video library with videos in multiple formats. I have over 230gb of videos encoded in either .m4v, .mp4, .avi, .mpg, .wmv, .flv, or .mkv format. It would literally take me weeks to convert all of these videos into just .mp4 or .m4v format. Not to mention that I would have to pick which videos I wanted to load on the 25gb of space I have left on my Touchpad. So I decided to set up a server to stream my videos from my desktop computer to the Touchpad and transcode the videos on the fly so they will play on the Touchpad.

    Ok, let me explain what transcoding is. Transcoding is the act of converting a video or audio file into a format that is supported by your media player on "the fly". In other words once you select the file you want to play, it is converted to your media player's supported format pretty much as it is playing. So if I select an .avi file from my library, the server converts the video to .mp4 or embedded Flash for my Touchpad as it streams it to the device. It sounds complicated, and it is, but once it's set up it's pretty cool.

    There are a lot of media servers available for Windows, Linux, or Mac that are supposed to transcode video and audio files. The problem is finding one that does it in a format that the Touchpad supports and is easy to set up. These are the two main reasons it took me two days to find a good one. Another reason is that I am cheap. I hate paying for something that other people are giving away.

    So here it goes.. I decided to use my old ancient desktop sitting in the back of my kitchen as a server. It runs both Linux (primary) and Windows (alternate) in a dual boot configuration. My media files are on a 1TB external USB hard drive connect to the computer. The computer is on the same wireless network as my Touchpad and all of my other media devices. I just needed some good media server software to get things up and running.

    I first started off with MediaTomb. I believe it is only for Linux. It's free and is an excellent media server. It streams to the Touchpad (through the web browser), my Android devices (using Upnp), my other computers, and my Playstation 3. The problem is that it won't transcode video files. Transcoding support is built in and I followed the instructions, but it just doesn't work for me. I'm not the only one. The forums were filled with others who were having issues with transcoding through MediaTomb. I spent most of my time trying to get it to work. Finally I gave up.

    Next up was the Playstation 3 Media Server, aka PMS (I know ladies, bad name but it wasn't me who picked it). PMS is also free. PMS had pretty much the same issues with transcoding as Mediatomb. Except, believe it or not, PMS had trouble streaming video to the Playstation 3. I found this to be very odd. I tried both PMS for Linux and PMS for Windows. Same results.

    Next on the list was XBMC, the X-Box Media Center. Free with a nice interface, but once again transcoding did not work. Fuppes was the same.

    I got desperate so I decided that I was willing to pay for good transcoding support and I was even willing to use Windows. I read about TVersity and Twonky. TVersity charged for trancoding and did not have a free trial period. With all the problems I was having I wanted to test the software out before I bought it, so I did not try TVersity. Twonky was free to try for a limited time so I decided to give it a go. Set-up was real easy. It has a nice interface for mobile devices that works in both HTML and Flash format. My wife killed my Touchpad's battery with another day long Sparkle marathon so I tested Twonky through my laptop's webkit browser. It worked great in Flash mode. So much so that I knew I had finally found the one! I spent $19.99 for a license and waited for my Touchpad to spark back to life.

    Big mistake! Once the Touchpad was back up and running I tried to access my files through the Touchpad's web browser in Flash mode. Twonky requires the Windows Media Player plugin along with Flash to work! What a horrible thing to require! Not all devices with web browser have the WMP plugin, Touchpad included. So Flash mode did not work. I tried HTML mode. I could browse and select the files with no issues, but Twonky would not transcode them while in HTML mode. No problem, I was a paying customer so I emailed tech support. I also checked the Twonky forums. No dice. Then I got a reply back from tech support. They told me that transcoding support was not "built into" Twonky since it required a plugin, which was installed. They could not help me because the plugin was a third party plugin and that I needed to "search the forums for answers". They had no issues boasting about transcode support on their website, but they had an issue with supporting their boast? I immediately demanded my money back. Still waiting on that...

    I finally decided to give Playon a try. I heard about it from one of the other members of this forum. There are like 4 different payment plans for it. I don't know them all so if you become interested check out their website (Watch Internet Videos on Your TV | PlayOn). It is also free to try for 14 days so I decided to take it for a spin. Set-up on Windows was easy. The local file media server is in beta but it works nicely. There is also Netflix support, Hulu Plus support and a boatload of cable channels (not live , but some of the latest episodes).

    On the Touchpad you access the server through a website, m.playon.tv. For some reason you get an error that says no servers are available, then your server is displayed. Once you click on it you can access your files or any of the services I mention in the previous paragraph through the web browser. Once you select a video to play, Playon transcodes it to Flash and imbeds it in your web browser. It evens goes to fullscreen mode automatically.

    The videos look great, just as if you were playing them in their native format. There may be a stutter at first, but if you let it buffer for a few seconds your videos will play stutter free. I also noticed that some videos would not immediately start playing without hitting the play/pause button a few times. It may just be my computer having issues with streaming. You can only play Netflix videos that are in your queue. Easy enough, just login into Netflix on the Touchpad's web browser, add the videos you want to play in your queue, then go to Netflix in PlayOn and the videos will be available to play. There is an app in the app catalog that will access your Netflix queue also.

    So far I'm very happy with Multimedia on my Touchpad. Having a rock solid stable version of Flash built into the web browser is a definite plus! I just wish that the video player was more mature, stable, and supported more formats than just .mp4 and m4v. If you want to access to Netflix or to play video files on your Touchpad without having to convert them over or take up additional space, give Playon a try!

    Whew this is long! Hope it helps someone...
  2. #2  
    Very nice summary and I agree, for those of us with large libraries (just under "Documentaries" I have around 120GB) it becomes both a huge task (reencoding the titles you want) or just choosing what you want from an immense library. So on the fly transcoding is the best solution.

    if HP can bring in their cloud solution something that could include some PlayOn-like functionality, they'd have a winner. Or at least allow for APIs so devs could write apps for the cloud service.

    PS: I also vouch for PlayOn and I'm certain I'll be signing up to one of their plans -just need to figure out which one.
  3. #3  
    Thanks for the tips, SOMEBODY had to go through that pain-staking process after 14 days how much per month/year?
  4. #4  
    FYI, I've had HD .mov videos show up correctly on my Touchpad as well, but I believe Quicktime just uses h.264 now anyway.
  5. #5  
    Playon is awesome for Netflix, Hulu, etc., but KalemSoft's Media Player can't be beat for network streaming. I've used it on my pre for quite a while now.

    I can't say how long before KalemSoft's Media Player is released for the Touchpad but it's being beta tested now and I've had the chance to try it out. It plays multiple formats (avi, flv, wmv, mpg, etc.) locally as well as streaming files from any folder you set up to be available from the server app. It will also work with an analog TV tuner and you can play live TV as well as record to your WebOS device. It also offers the option of enabling progressive download so you can let the streamer/transcoder get ahead a bit when streaming HD recordings. I've used it to play HD recordings from my HDPVR to the Touchpad and it is really awesome. All I can say (in my best HP imitation) is that it will be available SOON!
    k4ever likes this.
  6.    #6  
    Quote Originally Posted by sledge007 View Post
    Thanks for the tips, SOMEBODY had to go through that pain-staking process after 14 days how much per month/year?
    From http://www.playon.tv/buy/:

    $39.99 a year
    or
    $4.99 a month
    or
    $79.99 lifetime membership
  7. #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by kayphoonstar View Post
    All I can say (in my best HP imitation) is that it will be available SOON!
    The best imitation would be that it will be available in the coming months.
  8. #8  
    Quote Originally Posted by k4ever View Post
    ...and you can stream videos from the websites using flash and html 5 like Youtube, Hulu, Crackle, Amazon Video, and Vevo just fine. You can't do that on the iPad2.
    There is an iPad app for Youtube, Hulu, Crackle, Amazon Video and Vevo. You don't need to visit the actual website when you have an application that is optimized for the iPad. Also, the iPad is fine with html 5. The TouchPad has some distinct advantages over the iPad 2, but content accessibility is not one of them.

    That said, the rest of your trial and error should be EXTREMELY valuable to the rest of the members with TouchPads. Very nice write up!
  9. #9  
    What I have done is just stick videos in media folder. That way I know which ones show up or not.

    One thing people aren't considering is that this is not a storage device to put all your libraries on. That's why you have a computer. I just plug in what I want before hand and go. When I get home I erase the movies and reupload what I want on it for the next time.

    There are also some media server apps too in the catalog. I forget which ones, but they are pretty good. I can fit 10 blu-ray movies in Mp4 format on my TouchPad no issue.
  10.    #10  
    Quote Originally Posted by EvilKell View Post
    There is an iPad app for Youtube, Hulu, Crackle, Amazon Video and Vevo. You don't need to visit the actual website when you have an application that is optimized for the iPad. Also, the iPad is fine with html 5. The TouchPad has some distinct advantages over the iPad 2, but content accessibility is not one of them.

    That said, the rest of your trial and error should be EXTREMELY valuable to the rest of the members with TouchPads. Very nice write up!
    I guess this would be the subject of another thread but what is the added value of having an app replace the functionality of a web page? Isn't that a cop-out because the browser is lacking? Give me over 100,000 apps to replace something that one browser with the right plugin can do? That's a bandaid instead of innovation. The Touchpad is extremely versatile because it has flash.
    docholiday likes this.
  11. #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by k4ever View Post
    I guess this would be the subject of another thread but what is the added value of having an app replace the functionality of a web page? Isn't that a cop-out because the browser is lacking? Give me over 100,000 apps to replace something that one browser with the right plugin can do? That's a bandaid instead of innovation. The Touchpad is extremely versatile because it has flash.
    You speak of band aid yet you just posted a novel on how to stream content to the TouchPad that maybe a small fraction of TouchPad users will try, never mind figure out?

    Google AirVideo and call it a day.
  12. #12  
    Thanks for the writeup!

    I use PMS to stream to my PS3 from my computer which is in the same room, on occasion. However, I've found to keep the quality and speed, I had to connect the two via LAN and enable Network Connection Sharing on my PC so the PS3 can also access the internet. I just didn't know how to access PMS from my TouchPad, especially when I'm out of town and not on the same network.

    I had the PlayOn trial once, but never played with it a whole lot. I have a feeling it's going to be our only option for Hulu very soon. However, it's nice to hear it works well. I may look at that option in the future so I can pull up my library when I'm several hundred miles away on business.


    Those of you looking at PlayOn as an option, as well, should keep an eye out for coupon codes. I hear you can usually get it a bit cheaper, and if you sign up for the trial, they will keep sending you emails pushing you to purchase it... Eventually (a month or so), they will knock quite a bit of money off the lifetime version. Just don't spring for the $80 right away...
  13. #13  
    Quote Originally Posted by k4ever View Post
    I guess this would be the subject of another thread but what is the added value of having an app replace the functionality of a web page? Isn't that a cop-out because the browser is lacking? Give me over 100,000 apps to replace something that one browser with the right plugin can do? That's a bandaid instead of innovation. The Touchpad is extremely versatile because it has flash.
    Well, applications that are built for a specific product are typically designed with custom layouts and UI's that enhance the ease of use. A really fantastic example is the Nintendo Wii and it's Netflix app. If you access the netflix.com website on the Wii, it's not particularly easy to use, especially on an old school CRT. If you launch the Netflix app on the wii; however, you get an entirely new UI and layout that works SOOOO much better. I can't emphasize enough how much better Netflix looks/works through the app vs the normal website.

    That's what apps do. They improve user experience. Check out Netflix on the Wii as an example. Skip to 1:45 to see how Netflix looks on the Wii, and how the app has been customized to work with the Wii remote interface.

  14. #14  
    By the way, I'm not saying that having Flash vs lots of apps is a disadvantage in all cases. Apps will come, but there will always be sites that aren't optimized for products or that have applications you can download. For non-mainstream websites, Flash is a GREAT tool to have.
  15. #15  
    Quote Originally Posted by EvilKell View Post
    For non-mainstream websites, Flash is a GREAT tool to have.
    And for some reason, ****ing restaurants. I don't get why so many restaurants continue to have their website entirely Flash-driven.
    OldSkoolVWLover likes this.
  16. #16  
    Quote Originally Posted by kayphoonstar View Post
    Playon is awesome for Netflix, Hulu, etc., but KalemSoft's Media Player can't be beat for network streaming. I've used it on my pre for quite a while now.

    I can't say how long before KalemSoft's Media Player is released for the Touchpad but it's being beta tested now and I've had the chance to try it out. It plays multiple formats (avi, flv, wmv, mpg, etc.) locally as well as streaming files from any folder you set up to be available from the server app. It will also work with an analog TV tuner and you can play live TV as well as record to your WebOS device. It also offers the option of enabling progressive download so you can let the streamer/transcoder get ahead a bit when streaming HD recordings. I've used it to play HD recordings from my HDPVR to the Touchpad and it is really awesome. All I can say (in my best HP imitation) is that it will be available SOON!
    That is going to be my number one app to purchase once it's out. An app that streams from your computer is a must have, especially if it streams multiple formats! Guaranteed purchase from me once it comes out for the Touchpad.
  17. #17  
    Play-on light is a free version that does allow streaming from your pc to your mobile device. They say it is still beta but I am going to try it out once my free membership ends (and they auto convert me). Hopefully it isn't to buggy. Will be a nice free option to stream my TBs of media.

    Thanks for the experiment. You saved me a lot of time
    Last edited by tbonepat11; 07/13/2011 at 08:09 PM.
  18. #18  
    You guys should really be petitioning Air Video to develop something for the TouchPad. They have the best solution for iOS in regards to streaming content from a computer/NAS to the iPhone/iPad.

    About Air Video
  19. #19  
    Gonna have to figure out what I will be doing to stream from my HTPC to the TP once it arrives and we settle in with everything else.
    I love physical keyboards... but there is two devices that would make me consider a slab, one is something running a full version of Open webOS. The other is an iPhone!!!! HA HA just kidding (about the iPhone that is)...
  20. #20  
    Quote Originally Posted by barkerja View Post
    You guys should really be petitioning Air Video to develop something for the TouchPad. They have the best solution for iOS in regards to streaming content from a computer/NAS to the iPhone/iPad.

    About Air Video
    Well if that Kalemsoft player does the same thing, it doesn't really matter to me. Just so long as there is an app that does it.
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