Network Shares vs. Media Server

What is the difference between Network Shares and Media Server when it pertains to a PC on the network?

Also,  is it possible to output video/audio from my laptop through the WD to my TV?  ie. I want to view streaming content from my laptop on my TV via the WD Live TV.  (Yes I know I can plug a cable from my laptop to my TV but why not use the WD that’s already connected to the TV


Network shares simply means the Live accesses remote folders on your network (either on a PC or an NAS).  Media server means the Live connects to a media server (again, either on your PC or an NAS) which “serves” the data to it.

I do not believe in using media servers.  While they have some advantages (mostly in managing the data, but also in connecting to sources the Live cannot do on its own) they have a lot of disadvantages (more limitations on file types, inability to work properly much of the time, much slower access, and require third party software which brings its own set of issues).  I’ve never used a media server with the Live, but I have tried to do so with other devices (with a notable lack of success).

If you make a folder on your laptop shared you can certainly access it with the Live if it’s part of the same network – that’s kind of the whole point of sharing a folder.

What i have found, is that if I turn on the media stream option in Windows 7, then the WDLive can see all the files via category and access wtv files that it can’t access via the share. BUT - if try to play files, after 15 seconds they go into slow motion and the sound drops out.

If I play files via the network share, they play perfectly - even full 1080 over my 100MB network. I can’t see them organized, I only get the file names, and I have to convert any wtv files to dvr-ms.

My experience with Network Shares Vs Media Server is that it’s sometimes nice to have BOTH.  ;)

Network Shares require you to be a little more pro-active in organising your shared media logically, placing Videos into appropriate folders, categorising them, etc.  You don’t have to do this but I imagine it will fast get confusing when you have a sizeable amount of media.

Something I’ve noticed is that even when my Network Shares are playing up (as in, Vista decides it doesn’t want to be visible on the network), I am still able to ‘see’ (and play) from the Media Server.  I guess that’s the benefit to UPnP.

Media Servers do a lot of the categorising for you, you can be a bit more selective about what media you wish to share on the network and they usually open up the possibility to stream other content from the internet.

TVersity (free edition) allows you to stream free internet radio (ShoutCast and others) quite easily.  I have local rock radio station KROQ configured on this manner.  The only downside is that TVersity doesn’t seem to grab the Artist / Track info from the streams.  The Pro version of TVersity also allows you to stream Hulu and other web tv content.  Sadly, my DSL is too slow for video streaming.  Also, the TVersity custom menu system requires you to get your hands dirty with XML in order to customise the folders that the WD TV Live sees.  The default menus work fine but if you’re a minimalist tweaker, it may frustrate you.

PlayOn, another popular media server, allows you to stream your Netflix queue.  Not had any experience with that software but if I had faster DSL I’d be very interested. 

So the answer to your 2nd question is: yes, you will be able to stream “some” internet content from your laptop to your TV but it depends on what streams the software supports.  :)