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Premium Member
370 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey everyone. I have an xbox 360 and am interested in ways I can use it to play video from another machine.

I saw a post here by WBassett that covered the same topic for the PS3 - so I thought I would start one for the 360.

I should note that its January 2008 - and I'm noticing a few changes since I last tried to do any of this. Enough so that if you've played with this in the past, I'd encourage you to try again now - much has changed....

Also, as of around fall of 2007 - ALL new xbox 360's include an HDMI port for connecting to your HDTV - you can still use the previously available options - Video, s-video, component video, and VGA, in additon to HDMI...

Premium Member
370 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
6 ways to play video

1) from the Xbox's hard drive
2) from a usb hard drive *
3) from the network, with Windows Media CENTER as the back end **
4) from the network, with Windows Media PLAYER as the back end ***
4a) from the network, with the Microsoft ZUNE software as the back end ***
5) from the network, with another server as the backend ****
6) from an optical drive (ie internal DVD, or external HD-DVD)


Each type of playback has certain combinations of supported file formats and types - for example you can (as of Jan 2008) play divx files streamed from media PLAYER, but not media CENTER

* the usb drive must be formatted FAT32, and files can be no larger than 4GB each
note that with xp and vista - you can't format large drives with FAT32, so you'll need a 3rd party utility to do so.

** When Media Center is your back end server - you access it from the media center option on the Xbox dashboard. If you use it alot, you can set the 360 to auto start in Media Center mode. Media center could currently be windows Media center edition 2005 (Basically XP) or Vista Home Premium or Vista Ultimate.

*** When Media Player 11 or the zune software are your back end, you access these from the Xbox dashboard under videos (not under media center)- note that neither of these back end choices requires a Media center PC

**** programs like tversity are supposed to be able to stream to the 360, but I haven't gotten it working yet...

Premium Member
370 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Critical detail you need to know about video formats compatible with the 360

I have copied the below text from this link:

(I would normally not want to copy and paste someone elses work, however there is no guarantee that this information will always be available at the link above, and it is REALLY important (at least as of January 2008)

December 2007 Video Playback FAQ

** Represents a new feature or change in functionality from the Spring 07 release.

[Update 12/4/07 - added question 40. "When trying to play 25 or 50 fps content, I don’t get any video over VGA"]

[Update 12/10/07 - added question 41. "I can’t stream content to the Xbox after upgrading the Zune software to version 2.1"]

**1. What exactly does the Xbox 360 support for AVI?

Xbox 360 supports the following for AVI:

· File Extensions: .avi, .divx

· Containers: AVI

· Video Profiles: MPEG-4 Part 2, Simple & Advanced Simple Profile

· Video Bitrate: 5 Mbps with resolutions of 1280 x 720 at 30fps. See question number 11 for more information.

· Audio Profiles: Dolby® Digital 2 channel and 5.1 channel, MP3

· Audio Max Bitrate: No restrictions. See question number 11 for more information.

2. What exactly does the Xbox 360 support for H.264?

Xbox 360 supports the following for H.264:

· File Extensions: .mp4, .m4v, mp4v, .mov

· Containers: MPEG-4, QuickTime

· Video Profiles: Baseline, main, and high (up to Level 4.1) profiles.

· Video Bitrate: 10 Mbps with resolutions of 1920 x 1080 at 30fps. See question number 11 for more information.

· Audio Profiles: 2 channel AAC low complexity (LC)

· Audio Max Bitrate: No restrictions. See question number 11 for more information.

3. What exactly does the Xbox 360 support for MPEG-4 Part 2?

Xbox 360 supports the following for MPEG-4:

· File Extensions: .mp4, .m4v, .mp4v, .mov

· Containers: MPEG-4, QuickTime

· Video Profiles: Simple & **Advanced Simple Profile

· Video Bitrate: 5 Mbps with resolutions of 1280 x 720 at 30fps. See question number 11 for more information.

· Audio Profiles: 2 channel AAC low complexity (LC)

· Audio Max Bitrate: No restrictions. See question number 11 for more information.

4. What exactly does the Xbox 360 support for WMV (VC-1)?

Xbox 360 supports the following for WMV:

· File Extensions: .wmv

· Container: asf

· Video Profiles: WMV7 (WMV1), WMV8 (WMV2), WMV9 (WMV3), VC-1 (WVC1 or WMVA) in simple, main, and advanced up to Level 3

· Video Bitrate: 15 Mbps with resolutions of 1920 x 1080 at 30fps. See question number 11 for more information.

· Audio Profiles: WMA7/8, WMA 9 Pro (stereo and 5.1), WMA lossless

· Audio Max Bitrate: No restrictions. See question number 11 for more information.

5. Can I mix and match the video and audio codecs outside of those defined in questions 1 through 4 above?

No you cannot. We only support each audio and video codec in the explicit containers defined in questions 1 through 4.

6. How can I determine if a video file that I am trying to play conforms to the specifications as laid out in questions 1 through 4?

You can use a 3rd party tool to analyze your video files to determine what audio and video codec is used. A popular 3rd party tool to analyze video files can be found at http://www.headbands.com/gspot/.

7. How do I create WMV, AVI, H.264 and MPEG-4 content? What encoders does Xbox 360 support?

You can create this content on one of many 3rd-party applications. Xbox 360 supports many popular encoders. Specifically for encoding to WMV you can use Microsoft Expression Encoder or Windows Media Encoder.

**8. What specific features of Mpeg-4 Advanced Simple Profile does the Xbox 360 support?

The Xbox 360 supports Bidirectional Frames (BVOPs), Interlaced Frames, Quarter Pixel Motion Compensation, Global Motion Compensation, and MPEG Quantization.

9. What are the different ways to play video content on Xbox 360?

You can play video from a USB 2.0 FAT32 removable drive, optical media, and by streaming from the Zune software, Windows Media Player 11, or Windows Home Server.

10. What are the different video codecs that are supported in all the different ways to play video content on the Xbox 360?

See table below for more information:

Supported Codecs

From USB storage device to Xbox 360 Dashboard Video Player




From Windows Media Player 11 to Xbox 360 Dashboard Video Player





From Zune Software to Xbox 360 Dashboard Video Player



From Windows Home Server to Xbox 360 Dashboard Video Player



From Windows Media Center to Xbox Media Center Extender
WMV(Protected), WMV(Unprotected),


* = Please refer to question 32 on how to configure Windows Media Player to share these file types to the Xbox 360.

11. What is the "real" max bit rate, resolution, and frames per second that you support for all the different formats?

Xbox 360 does not specifically block video from playing based on a maximum bit rate, resolution, or frames per second. The maximums listed above for each codec are what we have tested for various video playback sources. Higher rated content will not be blocked, but playback may be less then optimal. Use higher bitrates at your own risk.

12. What size USB storage device does the Xbox 360 support?

The Xbox 360 will support as big of a storage device as you can format using FAT32. Unfortunately when formatting a device in Windows Vista or Windows XP you will be restricted to a maximum FAT32 size of 32GB. You can work around this limitation by using a 3rd party utility or using an alternative Operating System that does not have this restriction. Please note that the maximum size of any single file on FAT32 is 4GB.

13. What is the maximum video file size that is supported?

The maximum file size for an AVI, MPEG-4 Part 2, and H.264 file that can be played is 4 GB. 4GB is also the maximum size of any single file that you can store on a FAT32 USB hard drive. However, Windows Media Player 11 and the Zune software do support streaming WMV files greater than 4GB.

14. Do you support 5.1 channel AAC?

No. Only 2-channel AAC is supported. If you want to play a 5.1-channel video on your console, you will need to encode it to WMV with WMAPro 5.1 audio or use the AVI container with Dolby® Digital 5.1 audio.

**15. What types of AVI files are supported?

The Xbox 360 supports files encoded using MPEG-4 Part 2, Simple and Advanced Simple Profile. These files are often referred to as Xvid or DivX® video files. Many common PC DVD authoring tools, cameras, and camcorders are capable of encoding files using MPEG-4. Note that some files authored for DivX devices may also contain additional functionality(menus, subtitles, multiple audio tracks, etc). The Xbox 360 will attempt to play these files, but does not support any of the additional functionality and in some cases will be unable to play the file.

16. Why don’t some of my older versions of DivX® files play?

Since we only support Mpeg-4 compatible codec implementations, we will not be able to play video files older than DivX® 5.0.

17. Does the Xbox 360 support video artwork when browsing my collection from Windows Media Player 11 or the Zune PC software?

The Xbox 360 will display whatever video artwork that is displayed in Windows Media Player 11 or the Zune PC software for each video file.

**18. Does the Xbox 360 support video artwork when browsing my collection from a USB 2.0 FAT32 removable drive or optical media?

For all video types we will search for a corresponding .jpg file and use that as the artwork. For example video1.avi would display the artwork in video1.jpg if it existed. In the absence of this file, for the mp4 container, we will search if the video file has embedded album artwork and display that instead. Please note you cannot use this method when streaming from Windows Media Player 11 or the Zune PC software. See question number 21 for more information.

19. What is the maximum album artwork size that the Xbox 360 supports?

You should not exceed 512KB for all scenarios. This includes embedding artwork in the mp4 container, storing artwork alongside the file in a separate .jpg container, or streaming from Windows Media Player 11 or Zune PC software.

**20. How does the “Sort by Type” and “Sort by Title” option work when browsing my own generated video content?

The “Sort by Type” option is the typical Windows Explorer view that a computer would show your files in. It will first alphabetically sort your folders and then alphabetically sort your files. The “Sort by Title” option allows you to sort all folders and files alongside each other. Both of these sort options are persistent and linked to your profile so that you do not need to set them every time. See question number 21 for more information.

**21. What is a sample way of organizing my video hierarchy so that I can best utilize artwork and folder structure on the Xbox 360 for my personal video collection?

The following example uses the sort option “Sort by Title” on a USB hard drive connected to the Xbox 360:

· Genre 1 (Folder)

· Genre 2 (Folder)

· Video 1.avi (File)

· Video 1.jpg (File) (Artwork)

· Video 2.mp4 (File) (Artwork embedded in file)

· Video 3 (Folder)

· Video 3-1.wmv (File)

· Video 3-2.mp4 (File)

· Video 3-2.jpg (File) (Artwork)

· Video 3-3.wmv (File)

· Video 3-3.jpg (File) (Artwork)

· Genre 3 (Folder)

22. How do display modes work?

There are 5 display modes: auto, letterbox, fullscreen, stretch, and native. You can access these modes while watching a video by pressing Display on your remote or A on your controller.

a. The auto setting attempts to automatically determine what the best viewing experience is for your video. If it is a very low resolution video, it will enlarge it enough to be viewable on your screen while limiting the size for optimal viewing. If the video is of higher resolution, it will it will enlarge it to fit the TV. For both scenarios, it will retain the aspect ratio of the original video (for example, 4x3 or 16x9).

b. Letterbox mode will display your image full screen while retaining the aspect ratio of the original video. Use this if you want to override the auto function and fit the content to your TV.

c. Fullscreen mode will display your image full screen with the assumption the video is 16x9 formatted for 4x3 screens. This can be helpful for older content that may be 4x3 with black bars encoded into the video. This mode will allow you to zoom through the black bars and see it as wide screen.

d. Stretch mode will display your image full screen and stretch 4x3 content horizontally to fill a 16x9 TV. This can be helpful for those who always want to fill their TV regardless of the aspect ratio of the content. This causes 4x3 content to appear stretched.

e. Native mode allows you to see the content at its original resolution. Use this to view content that is extremely low resolution or very low bitrates.

23. How are display mode settings saved?

Every time you watch a new video, the display mode defaults to auto. If you decide to change the setting, each time you watch the same video the console will remember what you chose last time.

24. What is the information bar?

The information bar on the on-screen display now shows you exactly where you are in the video and where the chapters are in the file. In addition, for downloaded content, it will also show how much of the video has been downloaded.

25. How are the chapters determined?

Each video is divided into 10 chapters, allowing you to quickly move around the video content. Use skip to move to the next or previous chapter. Each chapter appears as a tick on the information bar.

**26. Can I fast forward, rewind, and skip while watching content while it's being downloaded from Xbox Live Marketplace?

You can move around in video as much as you have already downloaded. If you skip or watch past the point that you have already downloaded, you will be required to wait for it to buffer enough to begin normal playback again.

27. Is there other 3rd party software out that I can use to stream from my PC to my Xbox 360?

The Xbox 360 team extensively tests that we work well with Windows Media Player 11 and the Zune PC software. If you do decide to use 3rd party software, please contact them directly for support.

28. How can I stream content from my Mac?

To share from a Mac computer you will be required to use a 3rd party streaming solution. Please note that we do not support 3rd party streaming solutions and you will be required to contact them directly for support.

29. After the May 2007 update, my 3rd party software doesn't stream videos correctly. Why?

Video navigation was changed in the May 2007 update. 3rd party software that does not support folders through network sharing will not work correctly. You'll have to contact the software developer for support.

30. How can I set up Windows Media Player 11 or Zune to share my media to my console?

For info about setting up sharing, see www.xbox.com/pcsetup.

31. Should I continue to use Windows Media Connect (WMC) to stream video to my Xbox 360?

Windows Media Connect can be used but is no longer supported outside of Windows Home Server. We strongly suggest people upgrade to Windows Media Player 11 or use the Zune software to receive the best experience for managing and streaming content to Xbox 360.

32. How can I get Windows Media Player 11 to stream MPEG-4 Part 2 and H.264 to my console?

By default, Windows Media Player 11 does not support MPEG-4 Part 2 and H.264. Your first option is to install a 3rd party MP4 DirectShow decoder to import MPEG-4 part 2 and H.264 files into your library. Once they are in your library they can be streamed to your console and they can be played from within Windows Media Player 11 on your PC.

An alternative approach is to rename all of your mp4 files to have an “.avi” file name extension. This will enable Windows Media Player 11 to import them into the library and will allow them to be played on your Xbox 360. To enable the playback of these files on the PC, you will still need to install an appropriate decoder on the PC.

33. I can't see my video files from the Zune software on my console. What's wrong?

Make sure that the folders containing the videos you want to share with your console are included in the Zune software's list of monitored folders.

34. I received a message that says a media update is required to play the content. When I download the update I get the message "The download could not be completed. Please try again later. Any points you used for this transaction have already been deducted from your balance and will not be deducted again" with error code 80070005. Explain.

You'll get this error if you previously downloaded the media update on another Xbox 360 console with the same profile. You are only allowed to download the update on one console per profile. You can work around this by creating a temporary Silver membership to download the update. Once it's downloaded, you will be able to use the update with any profile.

**35. What shortcuts can I use with my gamepad while using the Video area?

LB skips backward one chapter. RB skips forward one chapter. RT fast forwards. LT rewinds. Start toggles between play and pause. X and Y bring up the On Screen Display for more advanced options. While browsing through your lists of videos you can also push Start to automatically begin video playback using the bookmark if it exists bypassing the Resume/Restart page. You can also use RT or LT to page up or page down through lists of items.

**36. Why do I see the message “Updating content. This may take a few minutes. Please wait.” the first time when entering the Console video area?

To support grouping television and game videos your content metadata needs to be updated. Once this process is completed subsequent entries into the Video area will be very quick. Please be patient during the update process and allow it to complete updating all of your content metadata.

**37.What changes have you made to selecting the source for Videos, Music, and Pictures?

The source selection is now mapped to the X button for each of these areas. The Xbox 360 will remember the last source that you picked and default to that. We have also removed the computer affiliation from the System Blade and we now show a list of all the computers that you can connect to directly in the Select Source scene. This allows you to quickly jump between Windows Media Player 11 and Zune PC software media shares.

**38.How can I play music from my iPhone® and iPod Touch®?

Unfortunately the iPhone® and iPod Touch® uses a different mechanism for storing your music then a traditional iPod®. We are currently unable to play music from the iPhone® or IPod Touch®. You can still browse the pictures stored on these device through the Pictures area in the Xbox 360 dashboard.

**39.Can I play videos from my iPod®?

The Xbox 360 does not support playing videos from an iPod®.

40. When trying to play 25 or 50 fps content, I don’t get any video over VGA

This only affects consoles which output PAL-50 and PAL-60 output modes. There is a known issue in which 25 or 50 fps video sometimes doesn’t display over a VGA connection if you have previously connected your Xbox over component video output.

The workaround for this issue is as follows:

1. Connect your Xbox 360 to a display device using a component video cable

2. Go to the System Blade

3. Go to Console Settings

4. Go to Display

5. Set your display settings to a different resolution than is currently selected (e.g., set it to 480p if your current setting is 720p)

6. You should see a slider with the words “Your display settings have changed. You can keep this setting or try another. Do you want to keep the new settings? If you keep the new settings, your TV will be tested to see if it also supports this setting at 50Hz.” Answer “Yes, keep these settings” to this prompt.

7. After this your display will be tested for 50Hz output

8. You should see a slider with the words “Now displaying at 50Hz. Does this display appear correctly?” Answer “No” to this prompt even if the display is correct. Again, make sure to answer “No” to this prompt.

9. Connect your Xbox up via VGA again. The videos should now play correctly.

41. I can’t stream content to the Xbox after upgrading the Zune software to version 2.1

After you upgrade the Zune software to version 2.1 on a Windows XP-based computer, you may be unable to use the Media Sharing feature to connect to an Xbox 360 system. This issue may occur if you used an account that has administrative permissions to log on to the computer when you upgraded the Zune software. More information is available at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/945037

Premium Member
370 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've done a bunch of tests, using the Xbox 360 to playback video over the network from

my PC.

As of January 2008, here's what I've come up with.

With what I've tried so far, there is no "perfect" solution - everything I've tried has some compromise.

Given that there is some compromise, I've decided it's good enough for everything but
epic action films. I'm going to archive my comedies, my kids shows, my TV shows, etc,
just not films like Star Wars and The Matrix.

If you're wondering what is working and what is not, I'll cover that next...

Premium Member
370 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Whats working - streaming video to the Xbox 360 in January 2008

xvid (also known as divx) with full dolby digital surround.
Sound and video remain sync'd - Video quality is acceptible, but not as good as a

good upscaling DVD player

How I got it working:
PC: Installed DVDFab, insert a movie
in DVDFAB: use the "DVD to Mobile" section and choose "Generic"
Select the main title, click next
click the single line that appears and click 'advanced' (lower right)
Choose xvid+Audiocopy from the drop down.
Set the kbps to 2000
Set the resolution to the highest setting (Currently 848x480 for

widescreen, 640x480 for full screen)
Change the Name and the title to things you'd want to see.
Click start (note: these files will default to an .AVI extension - this

is correct)

PC: Installed Media Player 11
- Enable content sharing
- add your DVDFAB output folder to the list of folders MP11 is sharing.

Xbox: Go to the "media" blade (not media center)
- select videos
- press the x button to change source
- select your PC

You'll see a list of shared media.
Select one and play it.
after approx a 2 second delay your movie will start.
observe the stunning Dolby Digital surround sound.
Hit the right shoulder button on the controller - you will jump forward.
go towards the end - observe that sound and video are still in sync...

Premium Member
370 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Some Thoughts...

Some thoughts...
Using the above method - you can share folders of folders - so you can organize

your files such as TV shows, kids shows, comedies etc...

When you encode a movie in DVDFAB - you are setting both a file name and a movie

"title" - if you make a mistake and want to rename your movie, you'll need to get a

utility that will let you change the title, as you can't do that from DVDFAB, nor from

windows, nor from Media Center - a good tool for setting the movie title is


There are other ways of encoding in DVDFAB - one popular system is the h.264

encoding - you'll see some options for this in DVDFAB too. However, as of January 2008

the xbox won't play surround sound from h.264 movies. Since sound is really important

to me, I ruled out h.264. Note that just this week, DVD fab now supports

h.264+Audio Copy - this could be ideal, if the 360 supported this mode - I don't

believe it does, but I will try it and report back.- this could be a good option for

those with PS3's if the PS3 supports it.

Video Quality thoughts...
I settled on 2000kbps as a rough standard for encoding - I see a difference

between 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000 etc, but found that 2000 was good enough - for the

material I was encoding (TV shows and comedies)
As a suggestion - you may want to encode something short (the jack jack attack

from the incredibles, or a short TV show you own on DVD) and make one with 1000, 2000,

3000, etc - then you can compare them and see what works for you.

Sharpness thoughts...
I don't think the 360 does a great job at scaling. I use the highest resolution dvdfab has - and it looks pretty good - pretty darned good - just not as good as the Toshiba A3. I think this would be an issue with any content, and any method of converting - short of say doing a DIVX conversion to 720p - which DVDFAB currently does not support.

DIVX thoughts...
I tried the DIVX converter - and had issues with sound being in sync with the video - it did not seem like a one click solution. If anyone knows of a reasonable way to get the official DIVX converter to work, let me know and I'll update the guide

Hey the video streaming works great with my xbox, but i have just one problem I would be greatfull if anyone can help me with this.
I downloaded a series in japanese and it obviously has english subtitles, it with divx and when i want to see it through the xbox the image i think its to big or something because like the subtitles are being cut in half I think coz the image is too big or something, i tried with the Display button but nothing its still being too big, anyone know what i can do?

Thank you very much ^^

Premium Member
370 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Tjeanalian -
can you try these on your PC? If the titles are getting cut off, then the problem lies with the original - theres nothing the 360 can do.

27 Posts
For the last month I have been playing around with streaming video and HD content from my HTPC to my XBOX.After installing TT(transcode 360) to convert the video to supported XBOX file types and upgrading my wireless network to allow for a higher transfer rate.The interface between the XBOX and Windows media center is almost flawless.The setup guide I found at this site ( http://tobias-tobin.blogspot.com/2008/03/using-transcode-360-with-my-movies-242.html ) really helped to make it pretty easy, its not perfect but its close.

133 Posts
Thnaks for the link. I am going to try this tonight. This would be a great way to be able to access your movies easily. How is the sound and picture quality?

Hi, folks. I've just noticed this thread. Some quite useful information in here in regards of which video formats are supported. Thank you for this.

I just want to let you know that I'm using Nero MediaHome 4 for streaming my movies to the Xbox 360. It's actually similar to WMP11/Windows Media Connect with a "more advanced" feature set. It supports all important video formats and is able to realtime transcode videos formats on-the-fly which wouldn't work otherwise, like MPEG-2 for example. Since the latest release it also supports video thumbnails which makes browsing a bit easier. If you have a TV adapter installed in your PC you can even stream live TV shows to your Xbox 360.

You can grab it from the official web page: http://www.nero.com/enu/downloads-mediahome-trial.php
EDIT: The trial continues to work after the 15 days test period has passed. It just disables the transcoding and live TV streaming functionality.

More details: http://www.nero.com/enu/mediahome4-introduction.html

cw :yay:

359 Posts
I am just diving into this and have come across many articles.

Right now I am trying Handbrake with a few DVDs I already had ripped.

I also tried using Videora Xbox360 converter. I haven't done any comparisons on any movies yet.

16 Posts
I ran across a plug in for Media Center called "My Movies" that will organize your movie collection and allow you to browse titles by cover art. I stream it from my PC using media center extender to my 360 and it works really well. I don't compress any of the video files I rip and I would say I get DVD quality playback.

115 Posts
+1 for My Movies
Couple very cool features
- Its able to consume iso / vobs / mpeg's into the same libary
- Supports transcoding on the fly to xbox 360's (works flawlessley)
- Has support for Windows Home Server built right in

frankly, My Movies is a killer application, well worth giving the trail a spin
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