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Comparison of Media servers supported by the Xbox

While tesing out the media servers for the guides on this site, a list of most common Audio and Video file formats and their associated codecs were compiled in order to give a quick overview of what was potentially the best all round UPnP Media Server for the Xbox.

As you can see, the range of formats supported and transcoding abilities vary greatly. Some just don't transcode on the fly (Twonky/FreeNAS using Fuppes) while other transcode just about everything, no matter if the format is supported on the Xbox or not.

Media Server File Formats Support on the Xbox

Video formats/Media Servers Home Media Ecosystem Nero MediaHome PlayOn.tv Tversity Orb TwonkyMedia Server PS3 Media Server FreeNAS
Avi(Divx)
Yes
Yes
Yes(T)
Yes
Yes(T)
Yes
Yes
Yes
Avi((Xvid)
Yes
Yes
Yes(T)
Yes
Yes(T)
Yes
Yes
Yes
Avi(Div3)
Yes(T)
Yes(T)
Yes(T)
No
Yes(T)
No
VOB(MPEG-2)
Yes(T)
Yes(T)
Yes(T)
Yes(T)
No(DNS)
Yes(T)
NO(DNS)
MPG(MPEG-2)
Yes(T)
(Yes(T)
Yes(T)
Yes(T)
No
Yes
No
ISO(Ripped DVD)
No(DNS)
No(DNS)
No(DNS)
No(DNS)
Yes(T)
No(DNS)
MKV(H.264)
No(DNS)
Yes(T)
Yes(T)
Yes(T)
No(DNS)
Yes(T)
No(DNS)
MP4(H.264/AVC1)
Yes(T)
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
MP4(mp4v)
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
MOV(Apple Motion JPEG)
No
Yes(T)
No
Yes
No
No
No(DNS)
FLV(Flash 9 video)
Yes(T)
Yes(T)
Yes
No(DNS)
Yes(T)
No(DNS)
 
Audio
WMA
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No(DNS)
No(DNS)
MP3
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No(DNS)
Yes

(T)=Transcoded

(DNS) = Do not show

Other Factors to consider before choosing your Media Server for the Xbox

The final choice of Media Server for the Xbox should not just be down to the number of Codecs or containers the Media Servers support as other features such as support for Streaming Internet Video, Box Covers, categorisation etc need to be part of the decision.

  Home Media Ecosystem Nero MediaHome Playon.tv Tversity Orb Twonky Media Server PS3 Media Server FreeNAS
Cost Free £24.00/$40 $40 Free (Pro Version $29.95,€29.95) Free $29.95 or € 19.95 Free Free
Quality of Video Same as Original for supported codecs Video Quality OK. Streaming TV can be blocky however.Some aspect ratio issues too which needed tweaking of TV and Xbox settings.

Good- Everything seems to be transcoded though, even the content thatcan be played nativly on the Xbox.

Seems to have problems with working out aspect ratio.

Same as original for supported codecs.

Transcoded video good but this depends on your settings. 720p transcoding caused buffering every 25s or so. Reduced quality and size of image to get rid of issue.

Quality OK(ish) but is quite blocky. Worst out of all streaming solutions however Same as original for support codecs Same as original for supported codecs. Very good for those that need to be transcoded. Same as original for supported codecs
FF Support Yes No Yes Yes Flakey Yes Yes. Not during transcode Yes
RW Support Yes No Yes Yes Flakey Yes Yes. Not during transcode Yes
Display of DVD boxcovers/Movie snapshot/Nothing while browsing Movie snapshot Movie Snapshot DVD cover(folder.jpg) Nothing Take Movie snapshot around 8-10 seconds in but these can be replaced by DVD box cover Nothing Nothing Nothing
Pictures separation Separate folders, same as original layout Folder, by date, By Album etc. Separate folders, same as original layout Separate folders, same as original layout Separate folders, same as original layout Separate folders, same as original layout Separate folders, same as original layout All together in one list
Photo/Picture Quality Same as original, resize to fit screen Same as original, resize to fit screen Same as original, resize to fit screen Same as original, resize to fit screen Same as original, resize to fit screen Same as original, resize to fit screen Same as original, resize to fit screen Same as original
Ability to tweak No options   No tweaks available Some degree of tweaking available to improve quality of video. All changes will depend however on your network setup and PC power. Some tweaking available but nothing improves video quality   High degree of tweaking available. Everything worked perfectly however except for no Audio Can adjust configuration file but transcoding does not work.
Internet Content playable No Internet podcast download options. No streaming video sites available yes, official and user developed plugins. Netflix and Amazon movies plugins as well as Hulu and BBC iPlayer Yes. Youtube and a few other sites supported on free Version. Pro Version has around 20 sites it currently supports. Yes but very slow. Sites pre configured are Youtube, Google.   No No

 

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