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Stream Media and Live TV Across the Internet with Orb

Looking for a way to stream your media collection across the Internet? Or perhaps watch and record TV remotely? Today we are going to look at how to do all that and more with Orb.

Requirements

Windows XP / Vista / 7 or Intel based Mac w/ OS X 10.5 or later.

1 GB RAM or more

Pentium 4 2.4 GHz or higher / AMD Athlon 3200+

Broadband connections

TV Tuner for streaming and recording live TV (optional)

Note: Slower internet connections may result in stuttering during playback.

Installation and Setup

Download and install Orb on your home computer. (Download link below) You’ll want to take the defaults for the initial portion of the install.

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When we get to the Orb Account setup portion of the install is when we will have to enter information and make some decisions. Choose your language and click Next.

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We’ll need to create and user account and password. A valid email address is required as we’ll need to confirm the account later. Click Next.

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Now you’ll want to choose your media sources. Orb will automatically look for folders that may contain media files.

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You can add or remove folders click on the (+) or (-) buttons. To remove a folder, click on it once to select it from the list and then click the minus (-) button. To add a folder, click the plus (+) button and browse for the folder.

You can add local folders as well as shared folders from networked computers and USB attached storage.

Note: Both the host computer running Orb and the networked computer will need to be running to access shared network folders remotely.

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When you’ve selected all your media files, click Next.

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Orb will proceed to index your media files…

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When the indexing is complete, click Next.

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Orb TV Setup

Note: Streaming Live TV to Macs is not currently supported.

If you have a TV tuner card connected to your PC, you can opt to configure Orb to stream live or recorded TV. Click Next  to configure TV. Or, choose Skip if you don’t wish to configure Orb for TV.  

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If you have a Digital tuner card, type in your Zip Code and click Get List to pull your channel listings. Select a TV provider from the list and click Next. If not, click Skip.

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You can select or deselect any channels by checking or un-checking the box to each channel. Select Auto Scan to let Orb find more channels or disable the ones with no reception. Click Next when finished.

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Next choose an analog provider, if necessary, and click Next.

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Select “Yes” or “No” for a set top box and click Next.

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Just as we did with the Digital tuner, select or deselect any channels by checking or un-checking the box to each channel. Select Auto Scan to let Orb find more channels or disable the ones with no reception. Click Next when finished.

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Now we’re finished with the setup. Click Close.

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Accessing your Media Remotely

Media files are accessed through a web-based interface. Before we go any further, however, we’ll need to confirm our username and password. Check your inbox for an email from Orb Networks. Click the enclosed confirmation link. You’ll be prompted to enter the username and password you selected in your browser then click Next.

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Your account will be confirmed. Now, we’re ready to enjoy our media remotely. To get started, point your browser to the MyCast website from your remote computer. (See link below)

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Enter your credentials and click Log In.

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Once logged in, you’ll be presented with the MyCast Home screen. By default you’ll see a handful of “channels” such as a TV program guide, random audio and photos, video favorites, and weather.

You can add, remove, or customize channels. To add additional channels, click on Add Channels at the top right…

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…and select from the dropdown list.

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To access your full media libraries, click Open Application at the top left and select from one of the options.

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Live and Recorded TV

If you have a TV tuner card you configured for Orb, you’ll see your program guide on the TV / Webcams screen. To watch or record a show, click on the program listing to bring up a detail box. Then click the red button to record, or the green button to play.

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When recording a show, you’ll see a pulsating red icon at the top right of the listing in the program guide.

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If you want to watch Live TV, you may be prompted to choose your media player, depending on your browser and settings.

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Playback should begin shortly.

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Note for Windows Media Center Users

If you try to stream live TV in Orb while Windows Media Center is running on your PC, you’ll get an error message. Click the Stop MediaCenter button and then try again.

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Audio

On the Audio screen, you’ll find your music files indexed by genre, artist, and album. You can play a selection by clicking once and then clicking the green play button, or by simply double-clicking.

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Playback will begin in the default media player for the streaming format.

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Video

Video works essentially the same as audio. Click on a selection and press the green play button, or double-click on the video title.

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Video playback will begin in the default media player for the streaming format.

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Streaming Formats

You can change the default streaming format in the control panel settings. To access the Control Panel, click on Open Applications  and select Control Panel. You can also click Settings at the top right.

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Select General from the drop down list and then click on the Streaming Formats tab. You are provided four options. Flash, Windows Media, .SDP, and .PLS.

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Creating Playlists

To create playlists, drag and drop your media title to the playlist work area on the right, or click Add to playlist on the top menu. Click Save when finished.

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Sharing your Media

Orb allows you to share media playlists across the Internet with friends and family. There are a few ways to accomplish this. We’ll start by click the Share button at the bottom of the playlist work area after you’ve compiled your playlist.

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You’ll be prompted to choose a method by which to share your playlist. You’ll have the option to share your playlist publicly or privately. You can share publically through links, blogs, or on your Orb public profile.  By choosing the Public Profile option, Orb will automatically create a profile page for you with a URL like http://public.orb.com/username that anyone can easily access on the Internet.

The private sharing option allows you to invite friends by email and requires recipients to register with Orb.

You can also give your playlist a custom name, or accept the auto-generated title.

Click OK when finished.

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Users who visit your public profile will be able to view and stream any of your shared playlists to their computer or supported device.

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Portable Media Devices and Smartphones

Orb can stream media to many portable devices and 3G phones. Streaming audio is supported on the iPhone and iPod Touch through the Safari browser. However, video and live TV streaming requires the Orb Live iPhone App.  Orb Live is available in the App store for $9.99.

To stream media to your portable device, go to the MyCast website in your mobile browser and login. Browse for your media or playlist.

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Make a selection and play the media.

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Playback will begin.

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We found streaming music to both the Droid and the iPhone to work quite nicely. Video playback on the Droid, however, left a bit to be desired. The video looked good, but the audio tended to be out of sync.

System Tray Control Panel

By default Orb runs in the system tray on start up. To access the System Tray Control Panel, right-click on the Orb icon in the system tray and select Control Panel.

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Login with your Orb username and  password and click OK.

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From here you can add or remove media sources, add manage accounts, change your password, and more. If you’d rather not run Orb on Startup, click the General icon.

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Unselect the checkbox next to Start Orb when the system starts.

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Conclusion

It may seem like a lot of steps, but getting Orb up and running isn’t terribly difficult. Orb is available for both Windows and Intel based Macs. It also supports streaming to many Game Consoles such as the Wii, PS3, and XBox 360.

If you are running Windows 7 on multiple computers, you may want to check out our write-up on how to stream music and video over the Internet with Windows Media Player 12.

Downloads

Download Orb

Logon to MyCast

Andrew is a media center geek with some serious Windows skills. He's never far from a WiFi connection or a great cup of coffee.

  • Published 04/22/10

Comments (9)

  1. Ortzinator

    Wow, now I really need to get a tuner.

  2. Huge

    Dude, i joined your news letter thing a few months back and almost every single time i find something out thats really interesting. For me this is one of the most exciting programs so far, its absolutely awesome. Thanks so much.

  3. Paul

    I really like this idea. However I have switched from Windows to Linux. I have Ubuntu on an older laptop and Fedora 12 on another PC. I want this for Linux. I am learning Linux and I am sure it is out there, but where and how?

  4. purimcarnival

    You don’t need to do any port forwarding with this correct? It seems like a much safer way to access tv remotely with out having to punch holes in my router like i do to access SageTv from anywhere.

  5. purimcarnival

    also, can you schedule a recording through an iphone or ipod touch with out buying the app?

  6. Kevin

    I’ve been using Orb for two years. Orb is really good at streaming media from and to any device. You don’t need a portable device with a lot of storage, you can keep all your media at home on your main computer and stream it to your PSP, iPod Touch, PDA, your friends XBox 360 or PS3 your sisters iPhone and many other options. Very cool.

  7. John Hoo

    How does it change channels on a set top box?

  8. purimcarnival

    @John Hoo – My guess would be that it uses an IR blaster. the same way media centers change channels on a set top box

  9. sole

    Hi My Friends: I’m new in this and not very geek, But my question is: Can I stream movies from my Netflix account? I know that I read something like that somewhere. It’s that true and how can I make it work?
    Thank you!

    Sole

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