How to use XBMC UPnP streaming

XBMC UPnP Streaming

Want to stream your XBMC content to other devices in your house, including video game systems, Android + iOS devices, Mac + Windows PCs? This is the guide for you!

UPnP stands for Universal Plug and Play and is a set of standards that helps networked devices (just like the ones in your home) find each other and communicate. We’re going to use it here to allow XBMC to share its local media libraries with a bunch of devices on your home network. Your network can be either wired or wireless, it doesn’t make a difference.

Unfortunately I only have an Android and a Windows 7 device to test this on, but Wikipedia tells me there are plenty of apps for iOS, Mac OSX and Linux that can act as UPnP clients. The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 also both have UPnP capabilities but I don’t have either of them to test on.

Devices and versions used:

  • XBMC Eden RC2 running in Windows 7 (will work on anything from XBMC Dharma 10.0 and up): Download
  • Android Ice Cream Sandwich (will work on any Android device)
  • Windows 7 PC, Windows Media Player 12

XBMC Setup

  • First we have to configure XBMC. From the main menu go to Settings -> Network -> Services. Depending on what skin you’re using, your screen may look different from mine:
  • You need to turn on the following items:
    • “Share video and music libraries through UPnP”
    • “Allow control of XBMC via UPnP”
    • “Allow programs on this system to control XBMC”
    • “Allow programs on other systems to control XBMC”
  • I have HTTP control set up as well, but that’s only for controlling XBMC via a browser and will not be covered in this guide. You do NOT need to turn on “Allow control of XBMC via HTTP”.
  • That’s it for the server. I should note that this guide assumes you have some music and video libraries set up to share with your other devices.

Android Client

  • Go to the Android market and download Bubble UPnP. If you intend to stream your video library, you will need a video player. I recommend BSPlayer Lite, but most video apps should work.
  • After installing BubbleUPnP it will ask you to set up a server. Feel free to skip this step, it’s an optional feature that’s part of Bubble UPnP.  You can look into it deeper if you wish.
  • Make sure that your wifi is turned on and connected to the same network as your XBMC server. Go to the devices tab in BubbleUPnP. Under “Select Library” you should see your XBMC device there, and you may see some other devices on the network. Select the XBMC server from the list.
  • Under “Select Renderer” be sure that “local renderer” is chosen. The local renderer is your Android device. You can also use this app as a remote of sorts to play music from your XBMC library on some other device that shows up in the “select renderer” list. This could be a PC that has it enabled or perhaps another XBMC device in the same house.
  • If you go to the library tab, you will now see your music and video libraries. You can browse through them to play whatever you wish. It can sometimes take a second or two to load the entire library, so be patient.
  • In my experience, HD video playback can be a bit choppy if your Android device isn’t powerful enough. Most devices released in the last year should be able to handle it. My Touchpad running ICS works beautifully but my original DroidX stutters quite a bit. Music playback works wonderfully on both devices.

Windows 7 (Windows Media Player) Client

  • If you’re going to bother with watching your media on a Windows PC, you really should just share your media libraries on a folder level instead of bothering with UPnP. That way you can just mount the shares as a network drive in Windows and have easy access to move, copy or watch your media. However, I understand that some people may prefer the streaming method, so I’ll walk you through it.
  • First, some file sharing settings must be in order. Open the Control Panel, and then go to Network and Sharing Center.
  • From the left side of the window, choose “Advanded Sharing Settings”
  • I’m assuming you’re on a home or work network, so expand that portion.
  • The only setting that’s necessary here is right at the top. Under Network Discovery, “Turn on network discover” must be selected. When that’s done, choose Save Changes and close the window.
  • Now open up Windows Media Player.
  • After a few seconds, you should see the “Other libraries” section on the left side populate. One of the libraries should be your XBMC server.
  • If you open this device up, you’ll have access to your music, video and picture libraries. Videos will have to buffer for a few seconds, depending on the speed of your network.

 

That’s all there is to it! As I said above, this will work on other devices but I don’t have the capabilities to test on anything but Android and Windows. Once you enable the settings in XBMC, you shouldn’t have to change anything else server-side. All other configuration for each device would happen on that device itself in the streaming client app.

Have fun!

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