How to stream videos to your Android device

How to stream videos to your Android device


Last time I taught you how to convert movie files for viewing on your tablet. Pre-converting videos gives you high-quality videos to view in areas without an available connection but what about those times you want to view a video immediately? Sacrificing quality for convenience it’s easy to set up VLC to stream your entire movie collection to your tablet (or phone) over Wi-Fi on demand.


Decisions decisions…

So first things first let’s set up VLC. As I’m sure you know VLC is an open source multi-platform all-in-one mega media player. Its greatest advantage is that it will play just about every video and music format out there without the need to mess around finding and installing codecs. You can download it from www.videolan.org.

VLC needs a little configuring for it to stream videos. The first thing you need to do is allow remote connections.  You do this by editing the ‘.hosts’ file located at:

Windows: C:Program FilesVideoLANVLChttp
Mac OS X: VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/share/http
UNIX/Linux: /usr/share/vlc/http/.hosts

Open .hosts in a text editor and then remove the # from in front of the address for your local network (usually “192.168.0.0/16â€). This will allow any device on your local network to access your videos. If you don’t want your roommates accessing your vids you can instead add your tablet/phone’s IP address to the end of the “# private addresses†paragraph.

Now start VLC and select ‘View > Add Interface > Web Interface’. Close and then re-open VLC and it should trigger a Windows Security Alert. Obviously you want to allow access. Check that the Web Interface is running by visiting http://127.0.0.1:8080/requests/status.xml in your PC web browser.

All good?

Now head on over to Google Play and install VLC Stream & Convert from here (Free or $3.99 versions available). Open it and as long as you’re on the same network as the computer running VLC press the menu button and then ‘Connect’. Your local network should be listed there. Select it and hit ‘scan’. It should say ‘VLC server found’ and it will fill in your computer’s IP address. Now hit connect.

You can now click on the ‘Browse’ tab to access your computer’s hard drive so it’s just a matter of navigating to your movie directory and finding the file you want to stream.

This is enough to get the video on your device but you can fiddle with your settings to increase the quality (note that at the time of writing the free version has different names for the menus). To get you started go to ‘Settings > Stream as mp4 (rtsp)’ and set the video codec to H.264 AVC. Presuming you have a decent enough Wi-Fi connection click on ‘H.264 AVC Settings’ and increase the video bitrate to 768 or above (higher bitrates are available to Pro users) and the width to the maximum supported by your screen (640 is only available to Pro users).

The developer’s web site has a whole heap of help available for troubleshooting as well as guides for how to stream remotely over Wi-Fi or 3G. You can access the site here.