Linux HowTo: Connect TV to wireless network to play media files from network storage

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I have a Western Digital MyBook external network hard drive connected to my router and part of my wireless network. I can access it from my laptop (Windows 7) and my phone (Samsung galaxy S4) and my partner’s iPad. I am able to view photos and play music/movies directly on all these devices. The way I do that is by navigating to the hard drive using a file manager then viewing or playing the files by the appropriate software ‘live’ (without copy and paste at all). All the data is on the network hard drive and I play them locally on each device remotely. For example on my phone I use ES File Explorer to connect to my hard drive through an SMB connection, then I navigate the folder structure to a video file and play that video file using MX Player. It is so simple and it works immediately with no lag problem.

My question is how do I use that same technique to connect my Samsung TV? It has both USB and HDMI inputs but I don’t know how to connect it. It doesn’t have wireless networking, so I’m sure I’m going to need a wireless component attached to it (maybe through USB?). My TV is capable of viewing photos and playing music/movies from a USB drive, but that requires copying them on the USB drive first by connecting it to my laptop and copying the files wirelessly. This takes a long time and is tedious to do every time I want to view or watch anything. Another option is to purchase a large capacity external hard drive and fill it with all my files and attached directly to my TV through USB, but I feel this is stupid option since I already have a large capacity hard drive with all my media files on it. It is networked through cable ethernet and works like a central network storage device to open/save media files from any device in my home network.

I searched the internet but all solutions I find all about setting up a media server which sounds complex and also require having a dedicated desktop device attached to the TV. I’m not a tech expert, but I think there should be something like a USB drive that can connect to my TV (either through USB or HDMI) that can connect to my wireless network and be capable of playing media files. Does such a device exist? If so, what is it called?

Sorry if I’m taking too long to explain my problem but English is not my native language.

Tyson’s suggestion was spot on. These set top boxes aren’t only designed to provide content from the internet.

See Wikipedia on Set Top Boxes

Depending on the format of your content, one device may be better than another, but any of these give you the ability to read the content from the hard disk and display it on your TV.

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