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How can I play movies directly(ish) from my external hard drive on the TV? Answered

Hey fellow makers! So I have an external hard drive with some movies and tv shows on it. I prefer to play them through the TV than watch them on the computer screen, but every time I want to do that, I have to move my laptop down there, and unplug cables from the back of the TV so I can hook up the laptop, then move, hookup and plug in the hard drive, and then after the movie, everything has to move back, and during the movie, I can't use the laptop for anything. Is there anyway to play movies directly or almost directly from the harddrive, without using a computer (and without buying a dvr)? Are there any products or devices that can be made using the allpowerful Arduino or something? I understand if the answer is no, it just seems like it should be possible and not too difficult to make something that can play movie files with out the rest of the computer (kind of like an mp3 player plays mp3's without an entire computer). Thanks!


You can play any external hard drive through your tv provided your tv has a free usb slot, once you've plugged it into the tv, press the input button on your tv's remote control and from there choose from the 3 or more choices ie ariel, usb, hdmi, choose usb then you should get a list of the movies on your hard drive use the arrow keys on the remote to move to the movie you want to see. I hope I've made this plain enough for you to follow.

Most modern TVs support this already. If the TV has a USB connection, odds are it does. What make/model are you using?

Note that even though they do support this, they are often quite limited on the format they will play back. They won't see the videos on your drive unless they are in the correct format, or they will just error out when you try to play them.

There are many other ways to do this if your TV doesn't support a direct connection.

If you have a Play Station 3 or XBox 360, you can already do this by connecting the drive through those devices (with a little assistance from Google).

Well, an Arduino *is* a computer, just a small one. I'm guessing that it's too small to handle video decompression. And you'd need to add a video card to it, which would drive the cost back up.

Simplest answer probably is to find a used computer and dedicate it to this task.

Oh -- the other reason you may want to use an off-the-shelf computer rather than reinventing your own is that you'd have to program a menu system that will find the video file(s) on the hard disk and confirm which one you want to play.

Filesystem, user interface, MP3 video/audio decompression, keeping both video and audio outputs fed rapidly enough... It really is going to be easier if you use someone else's solution rather than building your own up from scratch.

A "fast enough" used PC can probably be found for not much more than the Arduino solution. Older used machines are often Freecycled in my area.