Update: see my note at the bottom about native DivX support on your PS3.
Ah, the PlayStation 3 and the iMac G5: two great looking machines packed with powerful hardware and huge potential for media-centre magic. But getting them to talk to each other can be something of a hassle.
And getting DivX films to play on your PS3 is still impossible, unless you go down the even more problematic Linux avenue. I spent ages trying to find a good system which would allow me to not only share multimedia content with the PlayStation 3 but which could also transcode DivX/XviD to a readable format for the codec-deficient console.
And I’ve found it! The solution is to use two applications, one to share your media and one to do the transcoding work. After testing a couple of media server apps, including TwonkyMedia (which I found to offer a very unstable connection), I settled with EyeConnect, a powerful and easy to use media server for Tiger and Leopard which combines a clean, simple interface with a stable network connection to the PS3.
After installing EyeConnect, make sure that it can ‘see’ your PS3. If it can’t, make sure that your PS3 is properly configured to access your home network and that it is set to ‘look for’ media servers. If you use a firewall, you might also need to make sure that the port EyeConnect wants to connect with is open. Once you can see your PS3, take a look at the other settings in EyeConnect which cover folders, filetypes etc. There’s no need to change any of them, though.
Next you need to download a program that can transcode your DivX files to a readable format. The best solution I’ve found is VisualHub. Once installed, VisualHub is very easy to use: just add your DivX file to its queue, select an output folder (pick the same folder EyeConnect is using for movie files) and then select your transcoding options. The best quality will be found using the ‘VCD‘ template at maximum. Once you’ve started transcoding, take a look at the relevant folder on the XMB. You should see the DivX file you picked already there, even though the transcoding isn’t complete. In MPG format, there is some slight loss of quality but you can play with the display size in the PS3’s video menu to get optimal performance.
Hopefully, the PS3 will introduce native support for DivX, rendering the transcoding step unnecessary. But for now, this is a fairly simple system that works. Enjoy!
Update: DivX is coming to the PS3! Not sure when, but this would definitely negate the need for VisualHub. More news on this as it comes.
Update 2: DivX is now fully supported by the PS3. Make sure you install firmware 2.1 and you’ll be able to stream DivX/XviD movies straight from your Mac to your PS3 with EyeConnect. So there’s no need for VisualHub now. Incidentally, after a few weeks, I’m still really happy with EyeConnect. After the trial ran out, I didn’t hesitate to purchase a licensed copy. Which is pretty unusual for me.