In my effort to set up my XBox 360 as a Media Center Extender for my PCs I stumbled across a couple of things I think other 360 owners may find interesting.
In the first place, I have been unable to connect my system to either the Windows XP laptop or the Vista desktop connected to my wireless network. I've followed Microsoft's as well as several third-party instructions for setting up the connection but have been unsuccessful over and over again. The funny thing is that due technical issues we don't even have encryption protecting the network! Anyway, I'm stumped. So if anyone has any advice I'd be pleased to hear what you've got to say.
In any case, in the midst of my quest to be able to access my video and audio files from my 360 I read the detailed description of the new dashboard's media capabilities on Xbox Live. Tucked in among a bunch of other items was the fact that the update allows the 360 to play .avi files directly! When I read that I immediately placed an .avi file on a USB memory stick and shoved it into the 360. Sure enough the video played without a hitch! "Sweeeeet," I thought, "I can play most of my stuff without having to connect to my PC after all!"
Then it crossed my mind that if a memory stick could connect to the 360, a larger storage device might connect too. Well, I recently copied nearly all my DVDs and other A/V files from disc to a !TB External Hard Drive to conserve some space in my apartment as well as my wife's sanity. So I connected the External Drive to the 360 and, glory be, I was able to access all my media goodness from a single location through my 360!
I then pondered the happy idea that the 360 might just be able to read .avi, .wmv, .mpeg and other A/V files directly from data DVD or CD as well. Guess what, folks? IT DOES! And the system even does a pretty good job of adapting to the various aspect ratios and other limitations presented by the individual files among my collection.
I'll discuss how well the 360 succeeded in playing media files in my next post to break things up a bit. But the essential point of THIS post is to inform anyone who hasn't figured this out yet that the XBox 360 can and will access media files on your thumb drives, external drives, and other USB storage devices in addition to media files you have stored on CD-ROM or DVD-ROM!