Want to listen to MP3s or watch video on your Wii? The llama has the answer. Check out how it works here.
Winamp, the long-standing free media player for Windows, has just been updated to version 5.5 for Winamp's 10th anniversary. The update brings major changes to the player, including a new single-skin interface that sorts through albums, artists and songs, similar to iTunes.
What Wii owners will be most interested with in this new update is Winamp Remote, a new free service that allows you to access the music and video files stored on your computer from any Internet web browser in the world ... including the one on the Wii. Through the Wii Internet Channel's Opera web browser, you can take advantage of this streaming service. Winamp has gone so far as to design a special Winamp Remote web interface specifically for web browsers on television screens.
This makes Winamp the easiest way to get media from your computer to your Wii. All you need to do is download Winamp 5.5, install the player and the Winamp Remote add-on to your Windows-based PC and create a Winamp account. After that, you can access the Winamp Remote website from the Opera browser in the Wii, input your login information (you can use a keyboard for this now, thanks to the recent Internet Channel update), and have streaming access to all the music and video on your computer, or at least the folders on your computer that you specified as shareable in the Winamp Remote settings.
There are a variety of ways to search through and sort your music. You can choose to search through music by albums (complete with album art) or artists. You can also search by typing the name of the file or song via a search box. Basically, you have all the sorting and searching power on your Wii as you would as if you were using Winamp at your computer.
The playing interface is similar to that of YouTube. It's a flash player that streams in a selected file, and the album art for that music file (if there is one) will show up in the video pane while the music plays. Off to the side there is a banner ad, but it's a small annoyance that can be overlooked given the service to do this is totally free. You'll be able to control the volume level, pause, skip tracks forward or backward or view file information. From what I've sampled on from my computer, the audio quality playing the music over the Internet and through the Wii's browser sounds pretty similar to the speakers on my computer. That's impressive.
You can even stream video from your computer to your Wii via the Internet. Again, just like YouTube, selecting a video from one of your folders will begin a streaming playback via a flash player, although it will begin playing immediately rather than buffering a little bit to ensure a smooth playback. With some of my smaller video files, the audio and video playback was amazingly good. When I tried to stream some of my larger files, though, the playback was choppy, though still acceptably watchable. The audio was also a little ragged, but not to the point where it would ruin it.
Of course, since the files you are streaming to the Wii are located on your computer, and these files must be routed through Winamp Remote via the Internet to your Wii browser, the quality you'll ultimately get by using this method to play media on your Wii totally depends on the upload speed of your Internet connection. I achieved the above results with a decently fast upload speed on a cable Internet line. If you have a DSL connection with better upload speeds, you'll likely get better performance, especially with the streaming video.
There are other neat things the Winamp Remote interface provides that may make it worth your while to try it out. Even if you can't stream things to your Wii over your Internet connection, you may be able to do so on your friend's Wii. Even on a different Wii browser (or any computer, for that matter), all you would need to do is login with your Winamp account information and you'll have access to the media on your computer, even if it's miles away. And if you and a friend both have Winamp Remote accounts, you'll be able to listen to each other's music—Winamp has made it possible for friends to share their music and video libraries with each other. If you have more Winamp friends, you'll have more media available to you, all accessible on your Wii through the console's Internet browser.
Remember, all of this is totally free, very easy to use, and takes only minutes to setup. If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, you can get all the details over at the Winamp and Winamp Remote websites.