The search for a Universal Plug and Play server

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Now that I’ve added Sony’s PlayStation 3 game console to my home entertainment arsenal, I’m looking to make it talk with my Macintosh. So far, the software I’ve found isn’t really rocking my world, and I’m wondering if you, dear reader, have any suggestions.

Like its competitor, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, the PS3 features a built-in ability to view movies and photos and listen to music; the PlayStation Network (PSN) is a burgeoning method of buying and downloading some of that content. The PS3’s “Xcross Media Bar” (XMB)—its primary user interface outside of games and movies—lets you connect to a media server to view photos, video and listen to music in much the same way as the Xbox 360.

A company called Nullriver Software used this capability to develop Connect360, a Mac software application which lets the Mac talk with the Xbox 360 (I recently reviewed it here ). This has been invaluable to me to watch digital videos and listen to music stored on my Mac on the Xbox 360 using my big-screen projector and home stereo instead.

Unfortunately, due to differences between how the Xbox 360 works and how the PS3 works, Connect360 doesn’t work with the PS3. I hear the fine folks at Nullriver Software are developing ConnectPS3 to fill this gap, but I’m impatient.

What I’ve learned is that the PS3 supports Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), a standard for connectivity between consumer electronics devices. And there are indeed at least a handful of UPnP server applications for the Mac out there. (There are Mac UPnP clients, but that isn’t what I want—what I need is to serve the files on my Mac to the UPnP client built into the PS3.)

Elgato’s EyeConnect works via UPnP. Philips has software. TwonkyMedia makes another. There’s MediaTomb, an open-source system that is really wonky. All of these don’t seem to be able to get past a problem serving up the media files on my Mac, which the Xbox 360 can run just fine. (The PS3 sees the media files, but calls them “unsupported data.”)

There’s another solution too, which my friend Dan clued me into: You can also turn on Personal Web Sharing from the Sharing preference pane in your Mac’s System Preferences, and share what files you want to transfer that way.

I can also import files by copying them onto one of the various flash media formats the PS3 supports. (It features a built in flash card reader.) But that’s a slow and cumbersome process that I want to avoid.

None of these systems is really ideal, so I’m curious to hear from you: Are you serving up media files on your Mac using UPnP software? If so, what are you using? Are you happy with it? Am I just doing something really silly that’s preventing me from using the media on my Mac?

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