TVersity Guide

TVersity Guide

TVersity Overview

TVersity is a home theater PC server application that you install on a network PC.  Unfortunately, TVersity is a PC only server so it must be installed on a Windows box.  Aside from that limitation, the usage is endless.  TVersity doesn’t manage your media for you, but it does an incredible job of streaming to any network connected device including Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Mobile Phones, iPads, HP Touchpads, etc etc etc.  Any device that either supports DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance protocol) or has a built in web browser can access TVersity.  This was my original HTPC application back when it first was released, and it has only grown and grown since its inception.  There are two different versions however currently, a free version and a pro version.  The only real difference between the two is that the Pro version offers streaming from online sources directly through your TVersity.  If you require such a feature, you may want to consider spending the $40 for a single use license or $69 for a full home license.  For me, it’s not really necessary since all my content is local, but everyone is different, so you decide!  On to the guide!

 

TVersity Setup Guide

Tversity Install

  1. Download TVersity from here.
  2. Run the installer, accept the license agreement and select your installation directory.
  3. After that you will be greeted with a screen with Setup Configuration Options.  Assuming this is your dedicated home theater PC, you would want to install with the following options:
    1. Computer name to display on TV:  User defineable, if you want it to be “My Chuck Norris Movie Collection”, by all means.
    2. Start sharing service automatically after a reboot:  YES
    3. Configure Windows Firewall to allow media sharing:  If you still use Windows firewall, YES.
    4. Media Sharing:  Select the default Windows folders you want to share here.  I select none of these and configure my own folder options later.
  4. Next you will be prompted if you want to install the TVersity Toolbar.  If you are doing streaming from the web as a source, you probably want this guy selected.
  5. It will then install.  If you get an error for Windows firewall, it most likely means you aren’t using it and shouldn’t be a big concern at this time.
  6. Once that is done, you will be greeted with the splash screen looking for your Youtube Username, if you want to stream from YouTube here is your opportunity.
  7. Next you will be presented with the option to download and install FFDShow codec pack.  I highly suggest you do this now, you need FFDshow to transcode (convert) the videos so they play properly across your devices.
  8. Install FFDShow with all the default options.
  9. Finally, start up TVersity, the donation page will pop-up.  You can ignore this for now, unless you want to support the developers before you even know if you want to continue to use the product, but I’d wait for later to donate myself.
  10. You will then be presented with the main page for TVersity, pretty nice eh.
  11. The funny little box in the top left of the screen is the options for the service, start, stop, restart etc.
  12. Next to it is the + for adding new content, this is where you select new folders or files or whatever kind of content you wish to add to your TVersity library.
  13. Select a folder that currently houses some of your media so we can play with the settings and test it all out.  (Hint you don’t have to type out the folder path, there is a browse button below the “Search for” field.
  14. You can then name it “Title”, Tag it for searching, and select what kind of media is within this directory.
  15. I would then suggest hitting the advanced options button and selecting how you want it to transcode.  I would choose “When needed” so if you are trying to stream to a device that doesn’t natively support the format the movie is in, it will display without you doing anything.
  16. Submit it, and the scanning will commence.
  17. I would now take the opportunity to go to the “Settings” tab near the top of the screen.
  18. This is how I have the “General Settings” tab configured
    1. Media Playback Device – Auto Detect (this way you can stream to multiple devices without changing the profile, this option is really for people who are having a problem with a specific device)
    2. Media Sharing – Make sure Sharing is on, and you probably want to start sharing when the computer starts.
    3. Temporary Media Files – this is the “cache” space for when you are transcoding content, the default should be sufficient for our purposes here and can be adjusted later if need be.
    4. IP address/Port – You can leave this blank, you can hard set your IP in your network settings and then TVersity will respond to all requests on whatever port you specify.  I would leave port on 41952 unless you already have a service running on this port (Highly unlikely)
    5. Maximum Timeshift – Default of 90 minutes is fine.
  19. Next on the “Media Library Settings” tab, everything can be left default unless you want to tweak the refresh interval or make TVersity read tags from AVI files.
  20. “User Accounts Tab”  – Pretty self explanatory, if you want to stream from these content providers you need a pro version and then just enter your details in here.
  21. “Transcoder Settings” – This one is really on a case by case basis.  This is because some people have a wireless network, so they are going to want to specify their wireless network speed etc, so that TVersity knows the optimal resolution and bitrate settings to transcode at.  Honestly, I would leave the settings at default for testing and then if something is choppy or playback is ugly on a known good quality video, then you go adjust. (Feel free to ask me specific questions in the comments, I would be glad to assist).
  22. “Internet Feeds” Tab – this guy can pretty much be left alone, I am not doing much streaming.

Tversity Streaming Test

Now that we have all of our settings tweaked, and some media ready to be tested let’s get to it!  If you don’t know the IP address of your TVersity box, I suggest you get that by doing an ipconfig from a command prompt.  Then from your network connected device (another PC or whatever device you want to stream to) open up a browser and point it at your IP:41952 (ex. http://192.168.1.105:41952) you should then be greeted by the Tversity UI and should be able to browse and stream your content right through here.  This will work for all of you lucky folk who just purchased a $99 HP Touchpad and want to stream video.  If you want to test this on your XBOX 360, fire that bad boy up and search for DLNA servers on your network, and you should then be able to stream directly from there.  If you want to stream when you are away from home, I highly suggest you read our guide on Dynamic DNS so that you can understand steaming outside of your network.

Some of the cons I have with this setup are:

  • Your library needs to be pretty neat and tidy for it to look clean on your devices.
  • Transcoding settings sometimes need to be manually tweaked which can be difficult for newbies.
  • Some devices play better with formats (I understand that more device support = better, but still some devices just wont do as well with TVersity as they would Plex for example.)
  • Lack of built in media scraper/media manager.  This may not be a con for everyone, but I am lazy and want my media to look pretty without me doing much.

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