Playing AVCHD videos on my computers
I have a Toshiba laptop running Windows 7, a Dell laptop running Windows XP, and two older desktops also running Windows XP. The Toshiba laptop has an Intel Core i5-460M processor while the Dell laptop has a slower Intel dual-core T9500 processor. As for the desktops, one has an Intel Pentium 4 processor and the other has an Intel Celeron processor
To play my AVCHD videos on the Toshiba laptop, I just use Windows Media Player. The playback is very good and smooth. To play my AVCHD videos on the Dell laptop, however, I cannot use Windows Media Player. Apparently, Windows XP does not have the video codec that is needed to play AVCHD videos. Fortunately, there is a free AVCHD player called Splash Lite which has its own AVCHD codec. The playback from Splash Lite is also very good and smooth. As for my two older desktops, they just don't have the processing power to play AVCHD videos smoothly.
Playing AVCHD videos on my TV
To view my AVCHD videos together with my family and friends, I play them on my flat screen TV. One way I do this is to hook up my Toshiba laptop to the TV via a HDMI cable. I then use the TV as an external monitor and play the videos from the laptop using Windows Media Player. However, each time I play the videos this way, I have to carry the laptop (and a wireless mouse) near the TV, hook up the HDMI cable, hook up the laptop to the power supply, and set up some TV parameters from the laptop. After I am done watching the videos, I have to go through the reverse steps.
My preferred way of playing AVCHD videos on TV is to play them from my PlayStation 3 (PS3), which is hooked up to my TV all the time (also via a HDMI cable) and plays AVCHD videos beautifully. In this way, whenever my family or I want to play the videos, we just turn the PS3 on and play them from the PS3.
To play my AVCHD videos from PS3, I first store the video files in a portable USB hard drive. I then hook up the hard drive to the PS3's USB port. To access the video files in the hard drive from PS3, I simply highlight "USB Device" from the PS3's video menu, press the "triangle" button from the PS3 remote, and then select "Display All". In this way, I am able to see all the folders in the hard drive. I then select a video file from a particular folder in the hard drive and play it from there. The main reason I don't like to use the PS3's internal hard drive is that it does not let me organize my video files into folders. Organizing my videos into folders make it much easier for me to find my video files.
There is one limitation when playing AVCHD videos from PS3's internal hard drive or a portable USB drive. The size of any file cannot exceed 4GB due to the so-called FAT32 file system format used by PS3. Therefore, the length of any of my videos is limited to about 30 minutes. For home videos, I find this to be quite acceptable myself. There is also a consideration when preparing a portable USB drive for PS3. Windows cannot format a hard drive partition larger than 32GB in FAT32. However, this problem can be solved by using a free tool called SwissKnife. I have been able to format my 500GB drive to FAT32 using this tool.
In addition to playing videos, we also use the PS3 to view our pictures, play our music, play blu-ray movies, and, of course, play video games.