Most media server software that are open-source allows you plenty of customization options. Users love them because they are more than just a platform where you can stream media. Part of having a custom streaming network is that you have complete control over it. Though it takes quite a shift to understand how to set-up and do it properly, there’s no denying that streaming server software can elevate your content viewing experience.
Over the years, this software has helped me turn my digital media collection into an easy-to-access library where content is organized in the best possible manner. Among the various services that I’ve used, Serviio has to be one of my favorite media server software alongside Plex. Since Windows Media Center ran out of fuel, services such as Serviio, Kodi, and Plex have become a mainstay.
Users for nearly two decades have been using software like Serviio on their computers to keep all their data in one place. Plenty of geeks to date use network-attached storage to run their own server quietly. With a little maintenance and a computer’s hard drive, anybody can host media on their own servers.
Why do you need a Media Server?
A media server allows you to share content across a wide range of devices such as phones, televisions, tv, gaming consoles, and other devices that are compatible with Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA). In this particular blog, we’re focusing on Serviio. Now given that we have access to Chromecast, and Dropbox, one might think that Serviio is outdated but if truth be told, none of the modern-day firmware or software will allow you the freedom that Serviio has to offer. And that brings us to the main point – What is Serviio?
What is Serviio?
Serviio is a free media server that allows its users to stream media files onto their devices. So, you can stream videos, music, and images to your devices such as TV, Bluray player, gaming consoles, or even your mobile phones. Once both the server and device are connected to one another, you’re good to go. What makes Serviio great is that it is compatible with a wide range of devices including gaming consoles such as Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. Since the platform is written in Java, it runs on all major platforms such as Windows, Linux, Mac and even embedded systems such as NAS.
Why should you use Serviio?
There are many reasons why using Serviio will improve the overall media management for you. Let’s check out some of the key reasons why I love to use Serviio.
You can choose the free version or the pro version, but regardless of what you choose, the fact remains that Serviio offers incredible compatibility. You can use it with Mac, Windows, Linux, and a wide range of other devices to stream SD and HD videos. You can even use it to hear audios – even if they were in ASIO format or watch an image connected to the DLNA device.
Transcoding & File formats
What makes Serviio stand out is its ability to support various formats. For just audio alone, you get to choose from formats such as WMA, MP3, ACC, Flac, OGG. For video, you can choose between AVI, MKV, MP4, and WMV. You can try transcoding to change the file types in real-time. For instance, if you want a very heavy AVI file to MP4, you can do so in no time (depends upon your system). Point is that when you’re done, you’ll be able to play it with your device. Not just that, when watching a movie, you can even play subtitles in the SRT format.
Metadata & Thumbnails
The in-depth coverage of various album arts and intricate details are peculiar features in media server software. I like how you get all the crucial information such as the title, director, genre, year of production and other important details in one place. Serviio is able to provide up-to-date content data due to its ability to extract information from the website. This allows the software to categorize the content in endless ways. This is the feature that makes searching for content really easy.
Though this particular feature is part of the Pro version, I felt like it deserves a spot. Using MediaBrowser for watching shows through the browser is an amazing feature. Considering that there are plenty of devices that don’t have DLNA for remote viewing. Having a media browser just adds depth to the existing service. With the Pro version, you can also privatize certain features such as control access to folders and other third-party apps.
How to access Serviio?
Accessing Serviio is quite simple. 1. Search for the term ‘Serviio’, and you’d likely find it on the first page of the search results. 2. Click the Serviio screenshot on the left to access the website directly. Downloading the software is as easy as accessing the website. Just head over towards the download section and choose your platform. The software is roughly around 150-170 MB based upon the platform you use.
As compared to MediaPortal and JRiver, Serviio does have a visually appealing website. The homepage banners with well-designed sections are filled with important information. The White/grey combination with simple black text looks elegant. What I like about this website is that all of the pages are well-designed and are in sync.
The header section on Serviio has eight options – ‘Home’, ‘Features’, ‘Buy Pro’, ‘Download’, ‘Apps’, ‘Support’, ‘News’, and ‘Forum’. Each of these options has a dedicated inner page allowing you to access a particular piece of information. For instance, if you want to learn about features, you can click on ‘Features’ and you’ll be directed to a page where you can learn everything that Serviio has to offer. Similarly, by clicking on ‘Download’, you’re getting straight to the point. If you’re a new user, you’d likely want to check out the rest of the website before downloading the software.
The Hero Section on Serviio has a clean and compact design. A static banner with a headline ‘Access your content anywhere’ is the only visual aid on the homepage. There’s a news section right under the banner towards the left and there’s a brief description towards the right. And that’s about it for the hero section.
The body section like the hero section is quite compact and is packed with information. Towards the left, you’ll find information links to the latest software versions. On the right, you have two static tabs – ‘On the Go’, and ‘Control with your voice’, I guess these are several features that the developer wants to point out. Right above the footer section, you can also find the ‘About Us’ section.
The footer section on this website has four main categories – ‘Quick Support’, ‘Developers’, ‘Pro Edition’, and ‘Contact Us’. Under Quick Support, you can find options such as ‘Getting Started’, ‘FAQ’, ‘Online Content Management’, and ‘Users Knowledge Base’. Under Developers, you have ‘Reset API’, ‘Online Plugin Developer Guide’, ‘Online Plugin Developer Forum’, and ‘Help Translating’. Under Pro Edition, you have options such as ‘Buy Pro Edition’, ‘Free vs Pro’, ‘MediaBrowser’, and ‘Alexa Skill’. And finally, you have the ‘Contact Us’ option where you can reach out to the developer.
You can access any of the inner pages by clicking on the categories or the menus of the homepage. One particular inner page that I liked that most was ‘Features’. On this page, you’ll find all the crucial pointers under various headers such as ‘Features’, ‘Supported renders’, ‘File Formats’, and ‘Supported Media Files’.
Installing & Learning about Serviio
Installing Serviio is no big deal but setting up your own home server needs a tiny bit of technical knowledge. However, we’re just focusing on the interface and the customization options that we get with this application. Let’s check out some of the important features of the console.
There’s a Status tab where you can check all the running devices. The library helps you access all the folders. You can use settings to change remote access, transcoding or adding subtitles. The remote feature allows external viewing and by using console settings you can play with language and updates.
You can choose various playback devices from a list of devices such as media players, TVs, DVD players and gaming consoles apart from other devices. You can choose a pre-set profile, however, it is recommended to choose a profile that suits the device the best.
Don’t forget to install the ServiiDroid and ServiiGo app for watching and managing content on your server. These apps were in the beta phase earlier but now they seem to work fine. Still, it’s not as great when you compare it to Plex or Kodi.
Suggestions I have for Serviio
Though I like a lot of things about this app, I’d recommend the developers to further work on it. It feels lackluster and makes the platform come off as opaque. Other than that, Serviio has everything that you’d expect from a great media server.
If you’re looking for a complete media server capable of providing a wholesome experience, you don’t need to look any further than Serviio. Sure, it doesn’t have the best app yet, but apart from that, you can totally check out this free service.