How to Stream Videos From Your Home PC to your Android: an Odyssey

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Do you have videos stored on your PC and want to view them on your tablet or other Android device without the hassle of copying and possibly converting them? Well look no further. I too wanted this and I set out to find out how to do it for no cost.

What I found was surprising, and eventually useful. Read on to follow my odyssey into the world of digital streaming.

When I first set out to stream videos from my PC to my tablet, I figured it would be simple and easy, right? All I’d have to do is find a good program to act as a server and a good viewer too. That shouldn’t be so hard, but what I found, when I first made my foray into the digital jungle of information was a distinct lack of forthcoming information. I found tons of articles talking about how to stream from a special box they purchased, or using a program that cost only nineteen ninety five etc., but precious little in the way of actual information on how to do so with no cost.

There were plenty of ‘Free’ programs that of course turned out to be free trials or crippled versions that could be unlocked for a fee and the like, but it was a long while before I finally found a viable way to do it without costing a dime. I bring up the lengthy search on this subject only because I was a bit surprised that it was not easier to find this information, and therefore I hope this post will act as a waypoint in the direction of change. The point here being that, while I have posted reviews on specific software for some of these portions before, I’ve never posted or seen a simple and basic method posted to get video and audio quickly and easily streamed to your mobile device. Note that since I have an Android phone and a Nook as well as an Android tablet, those are the devices used in this post.

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The first thing you need, as mentioned above, is a program to act as your server. The one I finally settled on is called Plex. The basic program that will allow you to stream video and audio is called the Plex Media Server and it is, indeed, completely free to download and use. While many other programs are out there, this one offers a fast and easy set up that could almost be done on auto-pilot, it requires so little from the user other than a succession of clicking ‘next’ buttons and then direction of your media folders. It’s the best one I have found that offers simple and basic function and costs nothing. It uses your local network, not an internet gateway, so you won’t have to worry about affecting the bandwidth or usage of your ISP data. So, step one is, simply, download and install Plex Media Server, and tell it where your media files are. The program will lead you step by step through it, so there’s no need to post those steps  here but rest assured they are quite easy to understand and follow.

The second thing you need, of course, is a player that can handle the streaming video and/or audio that the PC or laptop is now transmitting. MX Player is my personal favorite, because it’s free (although it is ad supported, the ads only come up at times that don’t block what you’re actively watching) and it’s quite easy to use and versatile. It can be downloaded from the Google Play store at the link listed at the end of this post. You’ll want to install the MX Player app on your tablet or other Android mobile device.

Then there’s one final component. That’s MediaHouse, a great and totally free app for Android that will automatically scan for and find your Plex Media Server. Then, when you select the Plex server and choose a video to watch from the lists, you will be given the choice to use MX Player to watch it. I recommend the use of MX Player over the standard installed movie player apps that I have seen simply because of the variety of formats that MX Player is capable of decoding, as well as the massive amount of customization options available for those that want them.

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That’s it. That’s really all there is to it. I’m sure there are other combinations of programs out there that will do the same thing, but this is the one I use and therefore answers the question I was asked by so many of my friends and readers recently: How can I stream video from my laptop to my tablet? That’s how.

The neat thing is that each of the programs listed here are not only free but extremely user friendly so that installation and usage both are quite easy to learn and understand. Note that each of the programs I have suggested here also have other uses and features you will want to explore once you feel comfortable using the ones we’ve discussed here. Additionally, you may be wondering why a single company doesn’t put out everything you need to have an ultimate free solution, and while I suppose there might be one out there, most of the programs I saw had one half free and charge for the other half. For example, Plex Media Server is free but the Plex app for your Android is not free. So if a free solution for all three points exists from one company, I haven’t found it myself yet. I can say, however, that I have thoroughly tested and used the combination of programs I have listed here and I can tell you that they work and are compatible with each other to make everything as simple and easy as possible.

Bear in mind as well, that while these programs all have a ‘pro’ version that costs and opens new features and options, the free version of each is fully functional for purposes of this post and what we’re trying to accomplish here: i.e. totally free streaming solutions from PC to tablet. If anyone knows of other free programs that work on other platforms, please feel free to mention them in comments.So, now you know how, get to it! Until next time, my friends!

  • Get Plex Media Server here
  • Get MX Player for Android here
  • Get MediaHouse for Android here .