[Guide] Wii U Plex Media Server
After having finally decided to retire my old Wii and replace it with my Wii U I've started to miss some of the things my old modded Wii could do. Among those things is watching videos from a HDD with the luxury of having a remote. Sadly the Wii U is not fully hackable yet, if it ever will be, so there isn't a truly ideal way to watch videos with your Wii U from a HDD. This does not mean that it cannot be done at all though. After much searching online I came across a few programs, 2 of which were either dead projects or just plain buggy, to my great pleasure though I finally stumbled upon one that is still supported and works well :)
After a bit of testing with different media types (AVI, MKV, MP4) and different resolutions ranging from 480p to 1080p, I'm pretty satisfied with this program. So what is this program I'm talking about? Plex Media Server. As has been known for a long time now the Wii U does not natively support video playback from HDDs or SD cards, but it was discovered that the Wii U's web browser can play MP4s...okay, well not really discovered...Nintendo kind of told us in the manual...anyway, using this functionality you can stream your videos from a PC and watch them on your TV via the Wii U or even on the GamePad all with the help of Plex Media Server.
What you need:
- A Wii U
- A decent PC (I tested this all with a dual core that has 3gb of ram and got good results)
- A wireless router
- Plex Media Server
Chapter 1: Downloading & Installing Plex to your PC
Go here and get the Plex Media Server for your OS. Once you've downloaded and installed it just launch the app and your sever will up and running. But that's not the end just yet, keep reading...there's still a little more to do before you can celebrate with a streaming TV marathon.
Chapter 2: Make Plex Display Your Videos
In the bottom right of your task bar (next to the clock) you should see a black box with an orange arrow pointing to the right, this is the Plex Media Server icon. If you don't see it, check the hidden icons area. Right click on the Plex icon and choose the "Media Manager..."
This will open your web browser and show you your Plex Dashboard page. It'll be empty obviously.
On the left hand side you'll see a list showing your PC name, click the plus button to the right of your PC and a pop up will appear with the choices of Movies, TV Shows, Music, Photos, and Home Videos, as shown below.
Click the type of media you want to add for viewing on the Wii U. Once you click that you'll see a new window with a text box, this text box lets you name what this library will be shown as on Plex's Dashboard. Once you've chosen a name you're satisfied with, click "Next".
Now click "Add Folder", browse to the folder containing your videos, click "add", and click "add library".
You do not need to worry about sub-folders, Plex will see the content within them. So if your files are organized like: TV/Show Name/Season Number/Episode.avi, you only need to select the folder which holds the sub-folders for each show (in the case of my example that would be the TV folder) Plex will find your videos without issue ;). After clicking "add library" you'll be brought to the page for the library you just added which, in this case, is TV Shows. If you wait patiently Plex should try to automatically download info about these videos including artwork and episode titles (don't worry, your file names won't be touched). Though some files may not be listed correctly, I have a couple episodes that show as UNKNOWN EP 00...I'm not sure how to fix that, but they play just fine so it isn't too big a deal.
Chapter 3: Accessing Your Media Server On the Wii U
If the above steps went well you're now ready to get things going on the Wii U. This part may be a bit complicated for some, so I'll try to explain it as best I can. Firstly you're going to need to find your PC's IPv4 address. Simply go to Control Panel>>Network and Internet>>Network and Sharing Center. Now click on the name your internet connection and click the "Details" button. Look for the line that says "IPv4 Address" and make a note of the string of numbers next to it (something like 123.456.7.89). Now open your Wii U's web browser, click in the URL box and type in your IPv4 address followed by :32400/web (ie; 123.456.7.89:32400/web). Hit go and your Wii U should load your Plex dashboard showing you all the media you added in Chapter 2. Navigation of the page should be self explanatory, it works just like any other web page.
You may notice scrolling being a little laggy, at least I've experienced that. I'm pretty sure it's a issue with Plex's web design. They have optimized it a bit since I first posted this guide so it's not too slow anymore.
My recommendation is to bookmark the page of your Plex server for quick access, this way you don't need to type in your IPv4 every damn time.
Chapter 4: Closing
There you have it, you can watch videos on your Wii U's GamePad and you didn't even have to mod the system, congratulations! If you liked this guide and it helped you be sure to click the thanks button ;)