Tuesday, 21 October 2008
Posted by Dave
Been a long term fan of Twonky for my unpnp serverage needs. It's small, extemely fast, integrates with Itunes so you can share libraries and playlist and just kinda works. Except that lately it doesn't, playlist supports been on and off broke from version to version with playlists sometimes just disappearing until you load and re-save them, and it randomly not detecting the capabilities of my various devices so you get extra menu levels. Being offered videos on my Roku soundbridge is a bit daft. So I went on a new discovery of the various options and ended up back on Tversity.
This was one of the first I tried, and was written off for being slow, large with an utterly shit interface. Seems they've sorted it out. It's still quite large, Twonky's designed for embedded devices, and is bloody small, takes about 1mb of ram when running. Tversity on the other hand is currently consuming about 50mb and is slowly ticking upwards too, which sucks. Twonky also will rescan my entire media collection in about 5 mins, where Tversity takes over an hour. I also find the added stuff in tversity boggs your menus down a bit. There is a 'custom' setting which I haven't sussed out, so perhaps I can shed some of the unwanted menus, but for now it takes an extra menu level to get to my video's, which isn't ideal but not the end of the world. But then feature wise, the latest tversity kicks arse. It works properly with playlists and doesn't seem to barf randomly on rescanning like Twonky does.
Tversitys biggest draw is its transcoding. You really do want to play native as much as possible, but for the odd thing that doesn't work on the 360 or whatever, tversity will kick in and sort it out. What works really well is those old divx/xvid rips that have video supported just fine but some weird audio codec that the 360 barfs at. Tversity will just transcode this no probs, you wont even know it's doing it. Transcoding sessions are per directory or item you add so you can set it to not transcode if you'd prefer for a particular item.
What I really like though is its support for web feeds. You can now wap an xml feed in, such as a podcast or youtubes 'top favourites today', or even a youtube member name, or an image stream, whatever. Tversity will watch the feed, and present it on the 360 and transcode it on the fly. So I've got youtube and other web video's on the 360, I can bung on a podcast and then flick to a flkr photo stream and have a nice revolving set of soothing earth images while Stephen Fry talks his bollocks. I can piss myself to the Russel Brand podcast while rampaging round the streets of Liberty City in GTA4. It also seems to hook into some alternative feeds rather than just flash vid stuff. Not sure on the details here, might be like youtube goes to the apple tv thing where they offer alternative mp4 downloads?
It's also got a built in webserver and presents itself in Flash. Why is that good? It means it works as a media player on anything that supports flash, such as my EEE pc or my kids wii, video really is a bit ropey on the wii through the browser so you probably wouldn't bother but it's great for photos and music.
Oh they also seem to have improved the speed, it'll scroll quite happily through my mp3 albums, where it was a bit sticky before.
Sadly It doesn't work with your Itunes database, which is a real shame. I'd love to be able to easily share the playlists between Itunes and my media devices. There's a few m3u extractors for Itunes so you can do it manually, but that's not the same. Perhaps I can automate something, it's all xml after all innit...