Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming console is one of the most popular ever. It's great for sitting around and playing games with friends and you can even play DVD's and music CD's on the console. While this isn't terribly exciting, if you have a system that is running Windows Media Center (MCE) or Vista Ultimate Edition, you can stream Windows Media Video (WMV) movies to your 360 console over the network.
The down side is that you are forced to use one of these operating systems and the WMV codec isn't all that good - compression is not that great and although it's becoming more popular these days, DivX and Xvid are preferred "DVD backup" choice codec's, shall we say? These lesser mainstream codec's offer better compression and many folks on the darker side of the Web mostly use this format to distribute movies around the Internet since they are the most 1337 choice among enthusiasts.
Since the Xbox 360 is essentially a PC wrapped in Microsoft 360 dashboard software, I always thought there must be some way to play movies other than WMV on the console - without actually hacking the 360 software and hence voiding your warranty. It turns out you can!
While there are plenty of discussed methods floating around the Web, most are impractical and annoying and not thought out so well. Many involve actually decoding your original video source into WMV format and then placing the file into a folder which is recognized by MCE and the Xbox console. Others are a little more advanced in that they can provide real-time DivX to Xbox 360 streaming of content but are less than ideal since you are still forced to use MCE or the most expensive version of Windows Vista.
Last month a group of software folks at TVersity who know a thing or two about this subject managed to make the whole experience much easier and pleasant with their latest version of TVersity. They have a piece of software (and it's completely FREE!) that is able to on-the-fly transcode many video and audio formats into WMV format suitable for the Xbox 360. As it is playing in WMV format from your PC over the network, you are not modifying the console software or hardware and using legal software, therefore your warranty with Microsoft will be fine. Essentially, TVersity is able to trick the console into thinking the source format is WMV (or one of the formats supported by the 360) by using transcoding.
If you use Digital Media Servers which are able to stream content is a similar fashion to the Xbox 360, TVersity will also work just fine. As long as your device uses the UPnP AV / DLNA standard (which is the de-facto standard for connectivity between devices in the digital home), you won't be limited to whatever your DMS supports.
Over the following pages we'll provide a simple step by step guide on playing DivX and Xvid movies and a bunch of other video and audio formats on your Xbox 360 console. Let's get started!