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How to play movies from your PC on your Vizio Smart TV

If you were to thumb through the manual of your new Vizio Smart TV, you might come to the conclusion that you cannot play video files stored on your computer’s hard drive on your TV.  The only mention of playing external media involves plugging in a usb drive, and that is limited to photos and music.

After several searches of the internet, I was becoming convinced it couldn’t be done. I read discussions of potentially making a widget for Plex, a popular media server, but no one had written one yet.  My experiments with a couple of different media servers went nowhere.

What the manual doesn’t tell you, and what I now know,  is that your TV is capable of displaying media streamed from a DLNA-compliant media server. I stumbled across a post here suggesting that if a DLNA media server was present, it would show under the “Media” menu (which was only mentioned in the manual with regards to playing music off a usb drive).

I looked up the wikipedia entry for DLNA media servers, and noticed the PS3 Media Server was listed. I had read a recommendation of this server as being one that “just works”, and so I downloaded and ran it.

PS3 Media Server - Main Screen

PS3 Media Server – Main Screen

Once the server was running, I checked the Media app on the TV, and sure enough my computer was listed. Clicking on the computer name, you have the choice of Photo, Music, or Video… I chose video.

By default it was sharing my entire PC, at the “My Computer” level. That was no good, so on the “Navigation/Share Settings” tab I added my video directory as a shared folder. I pressed Save at the top of the screen, and restarted the server. It now correctly restricted sharing to only the one folder.

PS3 Media Server - Specify Shared Folder

PS3 Media Server – Specify Shared Folder

From then on, it “just worked”. Clicking on a video file played the movie almost immediately, and the play, pause, fast forward and rewind buttons on my Vizio remote all worked. Video and Audio quality were both excellent, given the source file.

Some notes about this tip…

  • I use Windows XP at home because I’m a cheap bastard, and I don’t see  a point in upgrading until I upgrade my hardware as well.  I understand some or all Windows 7 systems have a media server built in. If you have Windows 7, fire up your computer, and check the Media item in your TV. You may not need PS3 Media Server at all.
  • I believe that for a DLNA media server to work, you must have your PC and TV connected through a DLNA compliant router. I have the excellent Asus RT-N66U, and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s worth the money for the speed, range, and extra features.
  • As always, your mileage may vary.

I hope this post helps others searching for a way to play video files from their PC on their Vizio TV.

PS3 Media Server homepage

87 thoughts on “How to play movies from your PC on your Vizio Smart TV

  1. What type of files are your movies? I can see the movie files, but it says there is no codec to play them.

      • I use Serviio as my media server instead of PS3mediaserver You can get it here: http://www.serviio.org

        Serviio transcodes your video files “on the fly” to a format that your device will play. I have one media server playing on 3 different devices at the same time. One only likes avi files, another only Mpeg and one that is more comfortable playing MP4. All devices will play any format I have through Serviio. They’ll play, AVI, MP4, FLV, MKV, MPG, etc. I have had very few problems with this program.

        It is free, though there is a paid version with extra features but for a home media server the free version does just fine.

      • I saw the post below about Serviio for VIZIO TVs. I ended up trying it but it was not working with my new E241i-A1. Several posts on the Serviio website confrimed that there are issues at least with the E series Vizios. I was about ready to send the TV back when I tried a different media streaming software: KooRaRoo. This works great with my Vizio – no transcoding-on-the-fly issues like on Serviio. I can stream to my IPAD as well. Best of luck everyone. My Vizio TV plays Amazon Prime movies no problem, and now I have full access to my digital movie collection as well.

      • For Serviio to work correctly on your device, you need to select the correct profile for type of device you’re streaming to. Perhaps this was your problem? I have serviio serving many clients and have no problems with codec compatibility as long as the right profile is selected.

  2. Just wanted to say thank you for this post. I was searching the net for streaming media solutions for about 30 minutes before I found this and it works beautifully on my new Vizio. Saved me what I’m sure could have been a weekend long wild goose chase.

  3. Does this require some kind of wifi capability on the computer? I have a desktop linked to my wifi via ethernet, not a laptop that would just pick up a connection. Does this matter or does it all go down via router?

  4. Hey guys thank you again for this is post but it’s not playing when I click on the movie on the the tv. I have gone through desktop iTunes and movies. What could be the problem?

      • I use leawo blue ray ripper and rip movies to
        -
        Mp4
        H264
        Auto bitrate
        High video and audio quality
        I tried using handbreak with very similar settings while avoiding the advanced ones and my videos failed to play every time.
        I know my settings arnt very technical but it works. Videos play via USB and dlna.
        Any videos that have x264 play via USB but fail via dnla.
        Hope this helps…

    • Try setting up a folder just for the movie you want to try and play, then set that as the only thing that is shared by the PS3 media server.

      I seem to have issues when I have to navigate through multiple folders to get to the movie, then the movie won’t play. I’m thinking it’s a limitation of the Vizio software.

  5. do you know if you can play videos from an external hard drive that connects through the USB ports on the tv? I plugged a USB flash drive into the tv, and it streamed the media files on it just fine, my commen sense says, same thing should happen if I plug an external hard drive in the same way..but I don’t want to go buy one, without knowing for sure.

  6. what model vizio tv do you have ? i have a vizio smart tv but its about three years old . i tried your recommendation but it didn’t work for me . i use ps3 media server regularly to stream movies to my ps3 and wondered if i could do the same on the vizio in my bedroom.

      • My tv is the M470VSE
        I just got it a few months ago
        Try leawo bluray copy free trial
        Copy your movie to a file (vob format) for DVD but not sure about bluray then Google Join vob and go to CNET.com to download. This program will allow you to turn the multiple video clips that you end up with into one continuous movie. Both programs are fast.
        On my low end quad core I am able to rip a DVD in about 30 to 45 minutes. Joinvob only takes a few minutes also….p.s. joinvob is freeware

  7. You don’t have to even use a pc to run the movies, if you have dlna enabled router like asus you can just load a external drive right to it which makes it a network drive. You can also you use nas to do this, This is how I have it setup.

    If you want to use a media server you can use Plex server and it will act like DLNA share the drives and you should be done. Now the thing is when you do this there is no transcoding so you are in the mercy of what the tv can read. Most tv’s don’t understand MKV’s without an encoder at all.

    So better option would be to use Ps3 as a media server, xbox it’s limited to what wmc can handle or my favorite option is to get a roku get the plex app and your off to the races.

    The built in apps on tv’s have a generic lag so this would be the best option for overall compatability.

    • I agree that streaming from a DLNA router is technically possible, but I didn’t recommend it because I have had considerable problems streaming from my NAS and DLNA enabled Asus router to my Vizio. My typical experience is that it will start playing a movie, and then within 5-15 minutes the playback will stop. It’s super annoying. The Asus works fine streaming to other wireless devices, so I can only conclude the problem is with the Vizio.

    • I have a 1tb external HDD plugged straight into my TV and it plays mp4 h.264 files without issues. The hard drive has its own power supply. Why buy any extra hardware like a media router if you don’t have to. I suggest trying this before wasting your money.

    • you should be able to. I’m watching Silver spoon right now. and it’s in mkv. BUT it does take forever to load

    • Ok, I set up Plex and turned on transcoding. This works even better than the PS3 media server. Transcoding is what converts the file, on the fly, to something the Vizio can play. Try using Plex.

  8. It worked I have windows 7 and was using dlna on Samsung but couldn’t find similar in vizio thanks

  9. Has anyone tested using a Windows PC w/ Windows Media Player “Play To?” This is what I used w/ my Samsung after fighting w/ codecs and it has been flawless for video since the PC does the decoding and streaming, not the other way around. Curious if this works w/ Vizio just as well. Thanks!

    • I have tried this and play to will not light up to click on it. I can stream videos in mpeg format, pics in jpeg, and music. Ripping the movie seams to be the only solution I can find. But I need a ripper that can rip to mpeg format that is free!

  10. Can you post the steps on how to do this? I would like to access my external hard drive through my tv

  11. Thank you so much for you advice! This has worked easier than spending hours working it out for myself:) I do have one question though. I am using this for a Panasonic TV instead and the settings that I copied from you above still allows my TV so see everything on my PC. Do you have anymore advice on how to only have it see just my Public Folder? I realize this advice is for those with a Vizio, but it seems universal and has been except this one area. Any ideas would be gratefully accepted and tried :)

  12. I’m able to pull up the ps3 media server along with my entire c drive but when I open my videos it shows nothing. It seems to do this with any folder I open. Any idea why it’s doing this?

  13. I have found out the your TV can also play mkv file also by changing the extension to mp4. just a little bit of helpful information.

  14. Greetings, what a great thread! We all seem to be after very similar solutions! This was perfect timing as I just received my 55″ Vizio Smart TV (in the mail) the other day. I got it mounted on the wall, got the audio setup, and started going through the manual in detail and was shocked to find how little it covered. I was a bit discouraged in much the same way vaughnteegarden was. I’m frugal as well and refuse to paid for cable/satellite and get all my info/entertainment online, therefore I pay a lot per month for 100 Mbps internet access. That said, I had to buy a good router to match, so I bought an ASUS Router (RT-N65R) for less than $150 which has 2 USB ports built in. The idea was to keep all my music and major family photo and movie files on an external hard drive connected to one of the USB ports. After reading this great post by vaughnteegarden (thank you very much, by the way), I had another look into the routers capabilities, and I found that it had a DLNA Media Server built in. All I had to do was install it and reconfigure my external hard drive’s folder structure, and viola, just as vaughnteegarden said, it showed up on my Vizio’s Media menu!!! No issues yet! Thanks again!

  15. Is there a way to mirror my browswer onto my Vizio TV using this? I got it working using WIndows 7, but I really want to be able to wirelessly watch streaming content from sites that don’t have apps like Hulu or Netlfix.

  16. I tried this with my 32″ Vizio Smart TV and everytime I navigate to a folder that has a movie in it, the TV shuts off. Does anyone know why this might happen or what I could do to fix it? Thanks!

    • That is pretty bizarre. Certainly sounds like a bug, but I have no idea what would cause that. Is there anything else inside the folder besides the movie file? Maybe try removing items one at a time until you figure out what it is.

    • i have a 47″ vizio tv doin the same thing. i have no idea why its doin this, seems like its trying to load to much and freezes up and shuts off, let me know if you find something!

  17. So, I have a new M series TV that came out in June. And I also have pS3 media server running on my pc. The tv will show my computer listed and shows ps3 media server. WHen I connect to ps3 media server from the tv, I can browse all the movies, etc, but they won’t play and they hang. Why is this? Now, if I switch to my xbox and use ps3 media server, all the movies play. I dodn’t understand why they won’t play through the tv when connected to ps3 media server?

    • vizio doesnt play mkv, or avi “i think avi” your xbox (microsoft) is a computer it plays like a pc so it will play all formats. try plex app media server on your pc, description under 12/12/2013 under blake

      • I set up Plex media server and turned on transcoding. Transcoding is what converts the file, on the fly, to something the Vizio can play. Try using Plex.

  18. I used a thumb drive to play a TV show and it worked great until there was about 5 or 10 mins left in the show. It stopped for now reason at all. I hit play again and fast forwarded to where it stopped and it played on for a few more minutes, but then stopped again before the show was over. Anyone have this problem or know how to make it play videos all the way through?

  19. This is great information! I picked up the 55 inch M Series Vizio today because of the fantastic picture quality. I was going to get a Samsung because it has a Plex app….glad that I did not as the pic is not as good. I was planning to use a Roku 3 to play Plex files from Asustor NAS on Vizio. I see that we can access DLNA……problem is that there seems to be no codecs (audio and video) that work…..can we install codecs to Vizio? How do I get 1080p mp4, avi, and mkv files to play??

  20. Having problems playing MKV or AVI or even Mp4? try this http://www.plexapp.com/getplex/ you will need to make a account, after install, log in (home page) where it says my library click what ever you want to put on your media server (videos) (tv shows) to stream movies. i think you have to hit the pencil icon (edit) in top right corner of “movies” or “TV shows” tab. Add folders where your movies are located in 2nd box. click ok or accept. then it will load every movie/tv show you have in the folder you shared within network.

    (tried to explain as much as possible sorry if confused, just ask for help if needed)

    i have tried windows media server, ps3 media server for my ps3 and vizio tv, and bluray player to play any kind of video file, and PLEX media server is the only one that will play all formats without converting your files while streaming..

      • Can you please provide a screen shot or instructions for how to turn on transcoding in the Plex DLNA server?

    • Yes I’ve installed Plex as i will need to in the future anyway, but although I’m seeing all the files on my Vizio just fine the plex server still doesn’t want to play the files that my tv doesn’t support. Trans-coder settings don’t show whether it is on or off so im a little confused.

      • What do you mean by , ..”turn on, transcoding”, ? Do i need to purchase something or what? The Plex DLNA doesnt act any different than the one my windows is running. Except my generic DLNA tells me it doesnt have the codec. Plex just acts like its ignoring me when i try to play files that need to be transcoded. HELP!

  21. I have a vizio 39″ smart tv and ps3 1.9. I see the files (dvr-ms) but when I click nothing happens. The ps3 log seems ok, says it is serving the file. Could this be a router problem? Should I try an older version of ps3? Thanks.

    Frank

    • Try using Plex media server. It take a while to load the first time it indexes all your media, but after that it works flawlessly. Just turn on Transcoding and you are set to go.

  22. Great thread! I just bought a Vizio E-Series and out of the box it could see all my PCs in the house, but it is finicky about what it will play and what it will not. It plays the “Sample” videos that are included in Windows 7 (WMVs) but won’t play my downloaded streamed video files (also WMV). Some MP4s play, others don’t. I have used Serviio before with great success on on older Samsung TV and will probably give that a shot. What frustrates me the most is that Vizio doesn’t say, in the manual or anywhere else, which media file types are supported. Ironically, the manual says, “Files … must end in a supported file extension (.mp3, .jpg, etc).” As if anyone in the free world knows what “etc” represents. Worthless text. BTW…I had the same issue as someone else using the thumb drive. Payed MP$ move fior 2 minutes then froze up. tried to a play a different format and TV beeps and turned off! so, final verdict, download Serviio (for free) and allow it to do the necessary conversions for me. Good Luck everyone!

    • I struggled with Serviio for the E-series Vizio. There is an issue with trancoding on the fly with this software. I was able to get things to work well with KooRaRoo media server. No issues.

      For all of you that are struggling with USB drives – there are very limited file formats that the Vizio TV can play (it can play AVI and mpeg2 but not the newer formats). Use a mediaserver software that automatically converts your files and the sends it to the Vizio over WIFI to your TV.

  23. Has anyone experienced it taking 20+ minutes for a video to load? I’ve tried this twice and both times it’s taking 20, 30+ minutes for a video to load (only 700 MB video files). I am seeing an error in the log where Array.IndexOutofBoundsException and the buffer is increased. Do I need to adjust some settings in the media server or would it be that my network that could be slowing it down? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  24. Does this work on older Vizios? I have an M261VP, and it doesn’t seem to work. Am I doing something wrong?

  25. Hello Vaughnteegarden – this discussion seems to be THE place for information on this subject for Vizio TVs (and is much appreciated).

    Here is the situation for me. I have a Canon DV video recorder with ~ 70 tapes to convert. When I saw that my Vizio TV ( Model E601I-A3) could playback “some” of the videos from my win8 machine (from the PS3 DLNA server – also from the Plex media server) I was even more motivated to get my tape collection onto the hard drive. With recommendations from web and family – captured videos using MS Movie Maker – at the absolute highest quality it has (basically a direct copy of the tape) – which ends up being a 13GB .avi file. These take up a lot of space – but seem to be a good bet for using them in the future. Unfortunately the Vizio using Plex doesnt seem to play these (get an error on the tv “video codec not supported, audio codec not supported”. What I DID notice though – was that I captured just one video using MS Movie Maker – at the “recommended if you are keeping the movies on the computer” setting – which makes a .wmv file which is more like 2GB (a little less I think). In any case – when I see this one on the tv – the plex server somewhere made it into a .asf file which seems to load fairly quickly and play at decent/good quality. So now the question is – can I somehow convert all my 13GB .avi files to these .wmv files or maybe even directly into a .asf file. I really don’t want to have to go capture each tape again – but I guess I can if I have to. Just seems like I should be able to use some conversion tool to convert them online. I did try a couple – and got the “audio” part working on one. I will list settings I used for that from home.

    Also – does anyone know – where does the plex server put the “.asf” files it creates?

    To make things even more complicated – my DLNA server is on a WIN8 machine. But my files are on a WINXP machine (networked together). The Win8 machine has no firewire port to connect the video camera too – so thats why the large hard drive is on the winxp machine.

    Thanks in advance for any/all help. If someone could document some of the exact file types they have that work that would help. So many settings inside the files.

    One final (I hope) question – do I have the plex server setup correctly? Seems like it should be converting (“trancoding”?) to the Vizio TV (not sending files where the TV then says “audio or video codec error”. Seemed like you could do some setup on plex when first installing = but after that just the web interface to show you what files you have in libraries.

    thanks all and look forward to your responses.

    • FYI – a response I got from Vizio:
      Dear Greg,

      Thank you for your recent inquiry with VIZIO. I would be more than happy to help you. Here at VIZIO we do offer best in class technical support.

      The TV supports avi with xvid audio and ac3 or mp3 video codecs, m4v with h264 audio and aac video codecs, mp4 with h264 audio and aac video codecs, mpg with mpeg1 or mpeg2 audio codecs and mp2 video codec.

      If you need our assistance again in the future you can contact us by chat at http://chat.vizio.com or by phone at 877-878-4946.

      Thanks and have a great day!

      Randal
      VIZIO
      800 Stevens Port Drive Suite DD750
      Dakota Dunes SD 57049
      Phone 877-878-4946
      visit us: http://www.vizio.com
      Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/vizio
      Twitter : http://www.twitter.com/VIZIO

  26. I have the Vizio M551dA2 and can navigate to the DLNA sharing directory, but none of my video files show up that are being shared via a DLNA server on my NAS. The folder directories show up, but none of the video files (.avi format). Any ideas?

  27. I have the Vizio M551dA2 and am having trouble playing .avi files through DLNA server on my NAS. I can see the file directories, but the video files themselves do not show up when browsing the directory through the Vizio VIA. Any suggestions?

  28. Hey everyone – I have some huge news on this topic. As you can see from my earlier posts here – I was having a lot of problems using the “Media” app on my Vizio Model E601I-A3. I have since found the solution for all the problems I was experiencing. I was lucky enough to be added to the test team for the CrashPlayer tool. Unfortunately I think the test team is now maxed out per yahoo rules at this time.

    http://www.crashplayer.com/wiki/index.php?title=CRASHPlayer

    This tool works 100% with the Plex DLNA server – and things work like you would expect them too (unlike the Media app that is the default on the Vizio tv). It has all kinds of features – FF/RR with Active Pics, and even allows you to choose the speed for FF/RR. I wish the public release were available – but its not quite there yet.

    You can see the Author’s facebook page as listed in the wiki article above. For me – this tool is the Holy Grail for playing videos on my Vizio TV and works like a champ. Hopefully it will be available soon and you can see for yourselves.

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