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Watching the Latest HD Shows on your PS3

04 Oct 2007

The title of this post sounds like an advert, but I'm eager to share the ease with which I've been able to bend the PS3 to meet my needs. Previously I talked about faffing around with Yellow Dog Linux to play High-Definition media, such as Prison Break downloads, but the solution to the problem doesn't require any kind of PS3-based trickery.

Instead, the real work is centered on the PC. Using utorrent and various torrent sites, it's pretty easy to download the shows I watch. Heroes, Prison Break, Smallville, Stargate Atlantis at the moment, and soon BSG and Lost (though last series was 80% tosh) can all be scheduled to download within half a day of their airing (less if I don't want to saturate my connection), so that's the simple bit. The shows which are airing in HD have started to be released in 720p .mkv files, and though the PS3 can't play those natively, there's a trick to them which is key to this whole idea.

Redkawa's PS3 Video 9 has recently introduced a feature which allows you to unpack then repack .mkv files to .mp4 files - a format which the PS3 can play natively. And unlike transcoding, which is the normal means of converting from one video format to another, this unpack-repack process, which they call "remux"ing, is quick and doesn't result in a loss in quality.

So after downloading the .mkv, I pass it through PS3 Video 9 and I have a file which my PS3 can play. From there I can copy it to a flash card and put that straight into the PS3. However, I don't have a flash card big enough (these files are just over a gig) so I need a way of copying straight to the PS3.

TwonkyMedia's server allows you to set up a directory on your PC to be shared with your PS3. Thanks to a recent firmware upgrade on the PS3 side, when you run TwonkyMedia, you'll see it show up in the GameOS screen, and from there you can stream files across your network and play it on your PS3. My network's not fast enough, but you're also able to copy the file from the PC to the PS3 hard disk via TwonkyMedia and play it that way.

This could be streamlined but for the satisfaction-factor of watching HD content on my shiny 42 inch screen the day after it airs in the US, it can't be beaten.