Home media management software is great for streaming movies as well as all digital media content, such as videos, TV shows, music and photos, stored on your computer, and wirelessly stream and watch or listen to them on compatible devices such as HDTVs, gaming consoles, mobile or handheld devices and more. The software can either be bundled with a device, like an Apple TV, or can be bought and installed on your computer, such as Nero MediaHome.
Home Media Management Devices
Apple’s newest version of the Apple TV and the Apple TV OS (operating system) now allows users to stream their digital media content from their Macs or Windows PCs. With AirPlay, users can even stream the content on their iPhones, iPods and iPads to the Apple TV, to watch on an HDTV. However, with the Apple TV, you can only stream to the device and onto an HDTV, not other devices.
Unlike the other home media management software apps we looked at, the Apple TV can also buy movies, TV shows and music, or rent movies and TV shows. You can also access YouTube, MobileMe, Flickr, internet radio (including Last.fm) and podcasts.
Windows Home Server comes bundled with special media servers, which are affordable and allow a much more thorough organizing, streaming and even backing-up of Windows PCs and Macs, and their digital content. One of these devices is the HP MediaSmart Server. You can also access files (documents, videos, etc.) while on the road or at the office, from a compatible mobile or handheld device or a laptop.
You can’t buy or rent content, but you can do so from your computer and stream it. However, you can access internet content from any number of websites, such as YouTube, Vimeo, Pandora, Flickr and others.
Home Media Management Standalone Software
As we mentioned above, there’s both software that comes bundled with a device, and then there’s standalone home media management software that can be bought and installed on your computer. These include TwonkyServer for Mac and Windows, Nero MediaHome for Windows and Elgato EyeConnect for Mac.
All three apps do well with streaming your digital media content to various compatible devices, such as HDTVs, gaming consoles, Blu-ray or DVD players and others. TwonkyServer takes it a step further by streaming images to wifi-enabled digital photo frames.
Not every home media management software app will support all of the criteria below, but the best ones will support the majority of it.
Ease of Use
How easy is it to set up the software, and then use it to locate compatible devices, such as gaming consoles, wifi-enabled Blu-ray or DVD players and handheld or mobile devices? From there, how easy is it to stream digital media content, such as videos, music and photos?
Video and Sound Quality
Does the overall audio, video and image quality hold up as it’s streamed? This includes videos, movies, TV shows, music and photos. Also, can the software support 1080p high definition resolution?
Purchase or Rent Content
Can you directly purchase or rent content from within the software? If not, can you do so with another app or service, such as iTunes or Netflix, then stream it to compatible devices?
Play Digital Content
What kind of content can the home media management software app stream and playback? The software should be able to handle the various formats, such as AVCHD and H.264 (video); MP3, AIFF and WAV (audio); and JPEG and TIFF (photos). Those are just a sampling of popular digital media formats available.
Can you stream internet content, such as videos from YouTube and Vimeo; music from Last.fm and Pandora; and images from Flickr or MobileMe? If not, is there a work-around, such as downloading a YouTube video to stream?
Help & Support
How does it stack up? This includes direct contact via phone, email or live chat; user forums; a user manual; and a FAQs/Knowledge Base page.
Hopefully our reviews will help you compare best home media management software, whether it comes bundled on a device like the Apple TV, or as standalone software. With the right app, you can manage and wirelessly stream movies, music and photos to your television, mobile phone, gaming console and other devices. Be sure to visit our learning center for more information and Learning Center articles about home media management software, and some of the related services, such as movie and TV show downloads.
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