Why you can trust us

Engadget has been testing and reviewing consumer tech since 2004. Our stories may include affiliate links; if you buy something through a link, we may earn a commission. Read more about how we evaluate products.

HOW-TO: BroadSnatching to a Portable Media Center


Getting video on a Portable Media Center is a fairly complicated task, but not because it's all that hard, it's just because no one has ever shown folks how. It's a lot easier if you have a Media Center PC (MCE), but even if you don't have an MCE, we showed you how to put DVDs on your Portable Media Center when we reviewed the Creative Zen.

Walt Mossberg's most recent Personal Technology column smacked hard on the complicated nature of this as well, but instead of just complaining, we're going to show you yet another way of getting some pretty amazing, scary, and completely random videos from around the web automatically uploaded onto your Portable Media Center.

On a related note, we do think if people don't know how and where to easily get content on their devices, they'll likely turn to file sharing networks and become pseudo-pirates, and now with broadcasting flags stopping any type of recording, this will happen more and more, but that's another story-content _is_ the destination.

This week's How-To will use a video feed (RSS) from BlogDigger, WindowsMedia 10, iPodder, and a Portable Media Center to "BroadSnatch" video from many sources. A couple weeks ago we used RSS and Bittorrent as a way to download large files, to do something similar, but this is entirely new and different. We're calling this BroadSnatching, we'll see if it gets picked up.

Walt says you're only stuck with old baseball and bad movies, which isn't true, at least not for our readers. With our first How-To about getting DVDs onto your Portable Media Center and now with this one about BroadSnatching, you'll fill that 40GB monster up in no time.

For this How-To you'll need a Portable Media Center, we're using a Creative Zen, you'll also need iPodder and WindowsMedia 10. That's about it, as an added bonus you can also add MP3 and other types of feeds as well.

WindowsMedia 10
Download and install WindowsMedia 10, if you haven't already it can be found here.


You can check the version you have by going to Help > About WindowsMedia Player while using Windows media.

Download and install iPodder. The good news is, you don't really need a Portable Media Center you can use this How-To and watch all these videos on a Mac, PC or even Linux, as more video players become available this How-To can serve as a building block to add video to most likely any device, any way—time to configure iPodder.

Download folders
Configure iPodder's downloads to go to a folder called downloads, start up iPodder or double click the lemon in the task bar and click the Preferences tab.


Click browse and add the folder "downloads" if it's not already selected.

Click the Scheduler tab and choose times that make sense based on your connection and likeliness to sync up.


We choose 2 hours, also select "Check for new podcasts automatically" while these are not podcasts (audio files) it doesn't matter, iPodder will work with any files, including video.

RSS (Video feed)
Add the BlogDigger WindowsMedia Feed by typing the following in the Add field:


This a RSS feed, or "Really Simple Syndication", it basically has a list of videos from around the web, other RSS feeds have text news, some have music, other have images or all of this, but this one specifically has WindowsMedia videos ripe for the snatching.

Click Add and then click "Check for new Podcasts". This will go out on the web, check the RSS feed on BlogDigger and then download the videos.

For more about BlogDigger visit their site.

Set up Smart Plalists in WindowsMedia
First, open WindowsMedia Player, click Tools > Options, click the Library tab, click the Monitor folders button and add "downloads" which is in the iPodder directory, this will make WindowMedia look at this folder and fish out the videos that download.


Click the Library Tab. Right click the Auto Playlists and click New.


Name your Playlist "BroadSnatch" hilight (click) "Music in my Library" then click remove.


Click the plus to add criteria, choose "Video in my Library" from the pull down list.


Click the plus, to add criteria, scroll down and click more in the pull down list. Choose Keyword, click add criteria and type "Downloads" where it says click to set. This will pull in all the videos in the Downloads folder.

Click OK, you'll see all your videos now appear in the library.


Right click the BroadSnatch Auto Playlist and click "Add to Sync List".


This will add the files in a new panel called, you guess it, the Sync List.

Sync the Portable Media Center
When you plug in the Portable Media Center it will usually present you with a list of options, if you haven't already choose the following.


Now depending on how much video you have this may take up to an hour to transfer and/or convert the videos.


Watch the weirdness

A bit of warning, perhaps we should have said this sooner, but there's no way to know what you're going to get. Usually we get Daily Show clips, video game trailers, Japanese anime, music video mods, home made movies and many of the popular videos people send each other or post about around the web, oh, and once we got topless boxing.

So, all this being said, it's likely not something you want to play for your kids, but hey, maybe you're kids are cool.

Want a taste? Click here to watch a video (WindowsMedia). WARNING: NOT SO SAFE FOR WORK.

This video is what we recieved on our Portable Media Center last night! The weird thing is, this will show up on our device tomorrow.

Each day we get up to 8 hours of video, it's almost like a video pulse of the world, from videos shot in the Middle East to clips from comedy shows, it's random, creepy and amazing all at the same time.

Extra Credit


If you're thirsty for more geeked out videos, here are a couple other feeds. The first is from Microsoft's Channel9 which usually has some great interviews with the engineers and product people from uber-blogger Robert Scoble and the other feed is our test feed here that has a robot dance party, really we're not kidding, it's a dance party with robots.

Also, feel free to post up other feeds you find in the comments here!

Channel9 video feed:

Engadget Video feed test:

So there you have it, with a Portable Media Center you can sync TV with a Media Center PC or something like SnapStream, transfer home videos, watch DVD movies you've converted and now "BroadSnatch" videos, images and music from around the web. So go fill up those drives with RSS on your PMC, ASAP.

Update: There's another application that you may want to try as well, we will cover this in another How-To, but do check it out since it automatically makes playlists.

Doppler can do the same, but without setting up a smart playlist. Doppler will create the playlist for you in Windows Media Player just like it does in iTunes. Basically in Doppler it means: go to the website hosting the video feed. Drag the URL to Doppler, click ok to subscribe. And Doppler 1.1.1 also supports al kinds of other nice goodies, like spacesavers, which can help you to manage your precious disk space.

Doppler is freeware. As in free.

Phillip Torrone can be reached at