Skip to main content

Access your multimedia home server with the official Media Browser app for Windows Phone

Media Browser (www.mediabrowser3.com) is one of those solutions that helps make your multimedia-based lives that much easier. The main selling point of the service is the ability to remotely access a server (be it hosted or simply a box at home) while out and about with mobile apps.

An official app has now been released for Windows Phone, bringing Microsoft's platform up to speed and allowing owners to connect and stream media content. Not familiar with Media Browser? Read on and we'll explain what it's all about.

Whether it be films, TV or music, Media Browser will enable you to view it all when not physically in front of your home PC or connected to the home WiFi network. The only slight downside to using Media Browser (along with any home server solution) is that the initial setup and configuration can prove to be overwhelming for those who aren't familiar with configuring a server. But what features are sported by the sport when you're all ready to go?

Media Browser WP App

Official Media Browser client for Windows Phone

You've got the ability to browse your own media, pulled from your server (duh). But this is where Media Browser really shines. You can stream video directly to your phone (beware of your contracted data allowance), remote control other Media Browser players (including Media Browser Classic), configure your Windows Phone lockscreen based on your own collections, as well as pin favourites to the Start screen. Not a bad feature set.

The Media Browser web interface

As shown in the above image, you can also access your media content through a web browser, thanks to the web-based interface. This joins the mobile and Windows 8 apps available on respective stores (just in case you happen to be using a platform that isn't supported or simply require quick access). So, there are a handful of ways to access your content, but what about initially setting the server up?

Managing the server

We've linked to the server package below, which is required, should you wish to take advantage of Media Browser (unless you have access to a live server). The web interface for administrating the server itself is both intuitive and simple to use. As noted above, those new to server deployment and configuration may find everything a little tricky to get started with. Be sure to check out documentation and guides for more details.

You're able to add locations where you wish media to be pulled from, as well as sorting through metadata settings. User profiles can be created to offer a more personalised experience for multiple users (or to enforce restrictions and/or parental controls. There's also the option to install plugins from a central repository, further expanding the functionality of the service above and beyond what's featured in a vanilla installation. 

The web interface for administrating the server

Oh, did we not mention you can even access the above admin dashboard on your Windows Phone with IE? Awesome.

We strongly recommend you check Media Browser out, especially if you find yourself requiring a way to stream and manage your media on your Windows Phone, Windows 8 and also on the web. Even if you're resting on the sofa and really don't wish to move, this service has you covered. There's an established community, which we urge you to visit if you have any questions or require support.

You can download Media Browser from the Windows Phone Store for $3.99 (QR code below). A free trial is available, but you can only watch one video per day and can only remote control the web interface - also, video streaming isn't available on the Windows Phone 7 version. Before you begin with the Windows Phone app, be sure to grab the server package from the official website.

Follow the team on Twitter and Facebook for support and more updates.

Rich Edmonds is a word conjurer at Windows Central, covering everything related to Windows, gaming, and hardware. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a device chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

78 Comments
  • Niiiice!!
  • Yeah, it looks good, but based on the comments below I am confused. Which of the two ecosystems, Plex or MB3, doesn't hold a candle to the other?
  • I prefer Mediabrowser. It offers a lot more features like profiles. Plex now has it but only to subscribers. 
  • Plex / Roku is my choice. If anyone cares. :P
  • I do care :) but since I use neither (and have never used either), would Plex still be preferred?
  • They currently have a plugin to use on Roku as well.
  • WD HD Live. All day long.  It wrecks the roku.
  • I looked into the wd hd, doesn't have plex. Which is a must for serious media users. HD is ok for amateurs.
  • Btw, jokes. I am still considering the WD. But I really need the plex client.
  • Awesome news. I have been running MediaBrowser2 for over a year. This may just be the perfect reason to upgrade to MediaBrowser3!
     
    BTW, If anyone else uses WindowsMediaCenter along with CableCard and a TVTuner - Ceton has a great app to be able to schedule recording even when you are not home. Works with non-Ceton cable cards as well.
  • I've been using HFS to stream my media for years, for free. It helps to have a no-ip account to log directly onto your Home File Server, ie: http://homepc.no-ip.com:99/TV/mediafile.mp4 on your phones browser to stream. Unfortunately Port forwarding a necessary part of setup, but easy enough.
  • I currently use MediaBrowser 3 for this purpose. I have the web server UI linked to a no-ip domain and can connect to it from outside the home as well. In the windows phone MediaBrowser app I use the no-ip address to connect to the server very easily, no need to remember any dynamic ips.
  • Prefer plex :)
  • +1
  • Plex, is in fact, the bomb.
  • Plex has not been updated since April 20, 2012 for windows phone and they still charge $4.99 when it should be free. I paid for it and am greatly disappointed that the developers refuse to support it any longer. MediaBrowser has the same features and more than what Plex does, with more features and improvements on the way.
  • This is great, but I was really surprised to not see any apps that offer really good DLNA support. Why is that? There's some apps that say they do but either don't work or are really janky.
    This might be an overall better alternative but seeing as Microsoft offers DLNA support for Xbox and stuff, I was really surprised to not see any support for it on Windows Phone natively.
  • Does DLNA offer transcoding?
  • I doubt it? For example, Xbox can connect to my computer but won't stream certain files like MKV. I don't know a ton about DLNA except that's what the protocol seems to be for me to stream from my PC to PS3/Xbox.
    After posting this, I did go to the Store and search DLNA (I tried maybe 6-8 months ago) and the app "cPlayer" looks very promising. You can even download the media locally to watch/play offline and their interface is much better. Before I was trying "myMediaHub" and its interface sucked plus it seemed to not work sometimes.
  • Yes DLNA can use transcoding but you need a Media Server that does transcoding. I do not use any transcoding and although I have not across a perfect solution for WindowsPhone (something like StreamToMe on iOS), there are solutions that kind os get the job done.
     
    The best solution so far for me seems to be using Windows 2012 Server Essentials as Media Server (enable Anywhere Access on it and it enables RemoteAccess ovet the internet and also assigns you an address like yoursername.remotewebaccess.com) and you install the MyServer app by Microsoft (free for Windows Phone and Windows 8) and it lets you access all your media over the internet anywhere! You can additionally also use MyMediaHub app (also free in WP store) but it will only access media within your network. The advantage of using MyMediaHub being that it can also render output to a DLNA capable device (I have a WDTVLivePlus and it works perfect for this) in addition to playing it on your phone.
  • I like Media Browser 3 because they are continually adding new functionality to it. There are a lot of plugins coming for the server which adds cool features like Kinect PC support and Live TV.
     
    @subkamran - from what I have heard, although DLNA is a "standard" everyone seems to have implemented it differently and it's a pain making it work properly with all devices. There is/was a planned DLNA plugin for Media Browser 3 but I don't think it's a high priority over the main client apps for Windows, Windows Phone, Android, iOS, etc.
  • Good to know. I did find the "cPlayer" app so I was going to see if that worked with my Windows 8 PC. If not, I'll probably buy media browser and might even *still* because it might work better overall (and the web interface is sexy).
  • @Techywarrior, Does MediaBrowser3 work like a plugin in WindowsMediaCenter just like MediaBrowser2 use to or is it an independent server now? I cannot get rid of WindowsMediaCenter because it is my solution for watching live TV/ DVR capability and is used in conjunction with a TVTuner with cable card. MediaBrowser works great with XBox 360 as extender as well, I guess MediaBrowser3 will as well?
  • Yes, you'd install Media Browser Classic. You'll need to uninstall MB2 before you do that though as you can't have both (MB2/MBC)
  • I always used Qloud for WP8 to stream my content from PC. It's only a dollar less, but I'll check this one out for the kicks. Glad to see more media support for Windows Phone.
  • +1!
    I've been using Qloud for a couple of years on Android and was pleasantly suprised to see it is available on WP, too.
  • I use plex :)
  • I use plex but I can't stream with my phone on WiFi at home. Trying this but can't find server? Hmm
  • Stupid question, but sure plex server is running on your computer?
  • Yea, I can access it fine on other WiFi connections and with WiFi shut off. My Roku works fine too. Just my phone on WiFi cannot connect. Any suggestions are appreciated. I love plex and would love to stream on WiFi.
  • When connecting to your server from inside the network, use the local IP address (192.168.x.x), rather than the external IP address. Make two connections, one for inside the network, one from outside.
  • This isn't an app for plex, it's for Media Browser, so it won't connect to your plex server.
  • Does not hold a candle to Plex which IMO is king of the hill here..
  • Spoken like someone that has never tried MB3.  Either you are trolling or are serioiusly ignorant about the alternatives.
     
    I have tried them all, My Movies, Plex, XBMC, MB3, and they each have there advantages and disadvantages.  I find MB3 suits my needs best, but I wouldn't go as far as to say something rediculous about holding candles.
  • And my biggest problem with Plex is that I can't stream Video_TS folders with it. XBMC handles it like a champ....how bout MB3?
  • I hear ya there.  Who wants to convert their entire library of folders to MKVs just to accommodate their browing app?
     
    MB3 handles folders well whether opening up a video in an external player or streaming to a web or mobile client.  They had some initial issues on the streaming side with Blu Ray folders, but those seem to be sorted out.
  • If by king of the hill you mean abandoning your customers and not updating the app for over a year then okay, Plex is the king in that regard :)
  • OMG!!!! No Windows Phone 7 support??? /S
  • There is a WP7 version, just use the link in the article.
  • This is an amazing app.  You can control what's playing on different soures in the house and then watch something else on the phone.  Plex doesn't hold a candle to MB3.
  • Tip for those who have a Synology NAS:
    You can also get DS File, Video, Music, Photo, and Home on Windows Phone so you can access everything remotely. They all work pretty great in my experience - nice alternative to streaming music services if you have a huge collection already.
  • ^
    This!
  • Yep!
    And I will add that you can play to your Squeezebox players too if you want.
  • Nice, and this just helps stifle the haters one more inch..
  • I really like subsonic when connecting from a desktop but I may try this out as the WP subsonic apps are really lacking.
  • Building a home server in the next month or so, so I'll definitely check this out.
  • My brother did the Windows 8.1 update today from the Store, and when it was done, it turns out he got the 8.1 Preview. What the fuck Microsoft, are you serious? Now he will have to reinstall everything.
  • You did this or your brother and what does this have to do with the topic?
  • This needs the home PC to stay awake right.? I would like it to work even while my home PC's hibernating..
  • You need the computer that MB3 server is on to stay awake.  It will run as a service, so you don't necessarily need to be logged in.  Transcoding the videos on the fly takes quite a bit of CPU, so I am not sure you would want it to run on a NAS or any other low powered network appliance.
  • I already do this. I have the PC running the MediaBrowser server and have it set to sleep after a few minutes with "wake on link" enabled. When I run the MediaBrowser 3 WP app it will wake the computer up and within a few seconds I am a connected. Using a no-ip domain I can then access the mediabrowser collection from anywhere AND while saving on the power bill ;)
  • Ahaann...that seems helpful..i shall give it a go. Thanks mate. :)
  • Any suggestions for xbmc or openelec, for people using Linux as media server. Really want a nice music collection streamer.
  • They need to add the ability to pipe music to my Airplay devices. That would rock.
  • Submit a request on the MB3 forum and maybe someone would be interested in writing a plugin to do this.
  • I could use this app, but at $3.99 - I won't even consider it.
  • Why not trial it, sample the functionality and design, then work out if it's worth the price of a cheap lunch?
  • Plex costs $4.99 which is in the same league so it is priced competitively.
  • I like Mediabrowser 3. I use Windows Media Center for live cable  tv and have the MB3 plugin for a total media center package. No other softwrae comes close to this and I have tried them all..
  • Ok this is one of those impulse buys. Test it out later.
  • I recently updated to MB3 and even though its still in public BETA its a solid solution. Love being able to stream .mkv in HD to my Windows Phone. Works on my Xbox in extender mode as well. It receives frequent updates and is moving along VERY nicely. I bought the app after using the trial, well worth the money. Developer did a great job on this app. If you haven't tried MB3 I suggest you do. I've been very happy with Media Browser for years on my HTPC and MB3 is 10x better with the direction they are taking it.
  • Don't like app at all. Needs work done to it
  • I agree it needs work but it is currently a far superior product than what Plex is for Windows Phone which has not been updated for over a year. Trust me the developer of MediaBrowser for the Windows phone is constantly updating and improving the app.
  • Please be sure to provide feedback.
  • So what WP8 app would y'all recommend for a Plex server on WHS 2011?  I use the SilverSonic app for my Subsonic server, but I like Plex on my Roku.
    And why doesn't Microsoft have a WP app for its own WHS or 2012 Server, etc?
  • I may be misunderstanding the question, but if you're running Plex as your server, you can use the Plex WP8 client.
  • Sorry, poorly worded post.  I saw the official Plex client app, but it has awful reviews and costs $5.  I was hoping there was maybe an unofficial client app someone could recommend.
     
    I think I'll give Media Browser a whirl.
  • Microsoft has the MyServer app for WP and Windows8 that provides the perfect streaming solution as long as you install the Windows 2012 Server Essentials edition.
     
    The Remote Access wizard within 2012 Essentials Server also lets you install a free SSL certificate and enables access Remote Desktop + Media Streaming over the internet using a free MS provided URL in the format SomeNameYouChoose dot remotewebaccess dot com 
  • ... Checks plex app.. Nope still no update...
  • For anyone interested, MediaBrowser currently has many developers each working on different platforms. They have MediaBrowser for; MediaBrowser iOS MediaBrowser Android MediaBrowser Roku MediaBrowser Theater:  Meant to replace MediaCenter on windows machines at some point considering Microsoft no longer updates it. Windows 8 Modern app:  Just recently they recruited a developer that will create a modern app version of MediaBrowser for the Windows 8 store. Mono-Linux: They have also started preliminary development on a MONO port (Linux) for the server for those of you that don't want to run the server on a Windows PC.  
    Plugin Support; GameBrowser:  Allows you to have a "steam big picture" type mode that allows you to play all your emulated and PC games from one place. MB Bookshelf: Access all your mobi, epub, pdf, cbr and cbz books/comics So as you can see MediaBrowser is being planned on playing everywhere, access your media anywhere. You wont be tied down to any one platform. It is basically your own private netflix/pandora.
  • For anyone interested, MediaBrowser currently has many developers each working on different platforms. They have MediaBrowser for; MediaBrowser iOS MediaBrowser Android MediaBrowser Roku MediaBrowser Theater:  Meant to replace MediaCenter on windows machines at some point considering Microsoft no longer updates it. Windows 8 Modern app:  Just recently they recruited a developer that will create a modern app version of MediaBrowser for the Windows 8 store. Mono-Linux: They have also started preliminary development on a MONO port (Linux) for the server for those of you that don't want to run the server on a Windows PC.  
    Plugin Support; GameBrowser:  Allows you to have a "steam big picture" type mode that allows you to play all your emulated and PC games from one place. MB Bookshelf: Access all your mobi, epub, pdf, cbr and cbz books/comics  
    So as you can see MediaBrowser is being planned on playing everywhere, access your media anywhere. You wont be tied down to any one platform. It is basically your own private netflix/pandora.
  • My apologies only meant to post once.
  • I've installed the server software. Installed the WP8 application. It will not connect. I put 192.168.1.x as host. What am I doing wrong? Does the server side have to finish scanning before a connection is allowed?
  • The server does not have to finish scanning for a connection to be allowed.
      If you are willing, please visit http://mediabrowser3.com/community/index.php?/forum/68-questions-issues/ and they will help answer your issue.
  • Never mind. Got it to work. ;) Thanks for responding.
  • Very nice client for a good price.
  • I'm going to get crucified for this but... Does it interface with Apple? I run a MacMini Server at the house and would need to be able to interface to that.
  • The closest to Apple that MediaBrowser interfaces with is the iOS app and you can use the webUI as well. The community is always looking to recruit new talent and hopefully someone who develops for MacOS will be interested in creating a plugin/app for it.