Playstation 2 as a Media Center

Look at the interface - It looks like PS3/PSP's Interface but it is on PS2

Ever thought of using your Playstation 2 as a Media Center whereby you could play your favorite songs , watch movies and uh even get latest weather information. This way your playstation 2 can be more then just a gaming machine. When I say it acts a Media center , it means that it can play all your MP3 collections , Divx videos that you ripped from DVD or ‘borrowed from the Internet’ , and now even MP4s (which i find it pretty amazing :P). Oh , not to mention that is has a cool looking GUI much like Playstation’s 3 and PSP’s XMB Media Interface. It gives you the feeling of using PS3 but on a PS2.
Some of you may ask what are the advantages over say a normal DVD Player which has USB Port and can playback these files.  Well , firstly its cheap to get Playstation 2 these days as opposed to say getting a dedicated DVD Player which can do this. Plus , the software is expandable , meaning that as developers come up with new methods and add more codecs , the Playstation can play more files. You can even listen to live shoutcast streams (provided if you have a network adapter which is linked to a Internet connection). The two USB 1.1 ports are pretty handy if you ask me compared to one as it comes with normal DVD player or BluRay player (I haven’t seen one which has two). Overall , its totally worth the money and you can play classic Playstation two games. Bored ? , then fire up GameBoy emulator or SNES emulator and play classic games with your PS2. It serves a pretty good gaming console

If you have one like me , don’t throw it away. It still has its uses (provided that its working properly unlike my friend – Jun Hui’s PlayStation whereby its broken. Just make sure that its working fine)
Now lets get back on how to install it , I’ve managed to capture some pictures , so that it would be easier for you to understand. Lets take a look at what are requirded for it :-

  • A Playstation 2 Console which has been modified (aka a modchip has been installed). I’m not sure how to do it if your playstation 2 isn’t “modded”. Just to be one a safe side , make sure your PlayStation 2 has a mod chip. I guess any mod chip will do. Make sure you have some space available in the memory card
  • A Computer , which has a CD Burner to  burn ISO and USB Pen Drive (I’ll explain why you need a pen drive later)
  • Uh Lets see , time and some effort and a bit of patience and common sense. Just don’t depend on this guide fully as I would always recommend people to have a bit of common sense and uh , try to venture out of the box !

Firstly , you’ll be needing SMS Boot CD. SMS stands for Simple Media , its a media center application for Playstation 2 , it plays Divx , MP3 , and couple of other file formats as well. But SMS isn’t as friendly as Argon (no not that inert gas). Argon is actually a modified version of SMS which includes heaps more of stuff and it even has a picture viewer , and cool weather checker. Think of it as a more proper Media center for your playstation 2
1. Download SMS Boot CD from here. You’ll have to use Nero for this to burn. Just burn the Iso File. Copy Argon files to your USB Pen Drive. We will be booting Argon from USB Pen Drive. (Download it from here or you can download it here). Oh don’t forget to copy some of your movies or MP3s to your Pen Drive. Lastly make sure that it is formatted in FAT32. I recommend you to use a Pen Drive which has a capacity of less then 1 GB. If you don’t want to use Pen Drive , you can use a portable Hard disk provided that it is formatted in FAT (not NTFS)
2. Once you have burnt the CD and you have copied to your Pen Drive. Just put the CD to your playstation 2 console and start it. – but before that -Make sure you have plugged in your USB Drive/Pen Drive/Hard Disc. Now let the CD boot and you should see a main menu which is something like this :-

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uLaunchElf which is currently running on my playstation 2 (Ack , the refresh rates aren't in sync)

This is the uLaunchElf , its a file launcher/manipulator/manager for Playstation 2. It allows you to copy data from memory card to a memory device , vise versa . Its ideal for you to copy your saved games to say to your USB Pendrive and archive it to a computer or even download save games from the internet and put it inside your Drive and move it to the memory card. The possibilities  with it are endless. It also serves as an application launcher and its even capable of viewing JPEG Images. Its one nifty file manager. Oh yeah it even has a Text Editor too !
3. Press O , then select “mass:” and then choose Xmb.elf. Wait for a while and if everything goes okay you should have Argon loaded with the cool-looking XMB GUI. Its not as cool-looking as PSP or PS3 , but its comparable and it gives you the somewhat similar feelings. But for an old console , that’s something great. Now from here you can navigate to play your movies which are in your USB Drive or in network (if you have a network adapter and have PS2 Connected to your home network)
XMB GUI on the Playstation 2
XMB GUI on the Playstation 2

4. Thats about it. You can use it to browse your collection. For your information, I’ve managed to hook up my dad’s SAMSUNG F480 to the PlayStation 2 (as It can act as a USB mass storage device). It enables me to play back MP4 files which are loaded in the phone and as well as MP3 files. Not only that , I can view all the pictures which have been captured using the phone’s camera. Its pretty neat !. If your phone is capable of doing such things , then you wouldn’t be having any issues as well. This is the whole beauty of playstation 2, it acts a hub. You can blast the music and let your friends listen to their music choice by just plugging in their MP3 Players
Samsung F480 and PS2 - It just works and it charges my dad's phone too. Now aint that cool. You can get to watch MP4s from your Phone or Media player and get it to charge at the sametime

Well here is Argon/SMS in action. its playing a movie (Morning Raaga) from my USB Pendrive. Eventhough it’s a USB 1.1 Host , I can watch movies without any skipping or pauses as the PS2 prebuffers and stores it in the RAM. Not only that , it has a pretty good graphics processor to help it to decode and to deliver the umph. I am pretty impressed overall
Morning Raga (Divx) is playing file on my Playstation 2. I've resized the image to make a 16:9 video to fit to a 4:3 screen.

Oh you can remove the CD if you like , or if you want to load another DVD/CD which has your movies too. But you’ll be needing the Pen Drive and the cd to allow you to boot into this media player. I will be talking more about McBoot which is a native bootloader for Playstation 2 , that allows you to run these programs from a memory card instead of a CD or USB Pen Drive !
HD Note – I am not sure if you are able to play HD formatted files or not. The playstation 2 hardware isn’t capable enough of outputting in 720p , let alone 1080i/p. I wouldn’t recommend you to connect your PS2 to a HD TV and expect it to play HD Content. Its recommended for EDTV and SDTV (normal TVs)
USB Drive Note – Some playstations are senestive when it comes to USB Pendrive. Your pen drive may or may not work. Just take note of this. Don’t panic that if your Pendrive isn’t detected by your playstation. Its a bit picky when it comes to pendrives. I found out that it hates Kengiston Pen Drive !
You can check out these following links to learn more about homebrew applications , that can enchane your playstation. I would recommend you to visit these following sites :-

31 thoughts to “Playstation 2 as a Media Center”

  1. I have doubts on PS2 could handle this media center properly. The obsolete 299 MHz and mere 32 MB limits it’s capability in decoding MPEG-4 based video files, PS2’s EE can decode MPEG-2 well, but not MPEG-4. Mind sharing your experience in playing H.264 files ?

  2. You’re right scsier. It doesn’t support H.264 encoded files. When I say MP4 files , I mean those normal “MPEG-4” files , which were meant for handphones and not H.264. H.264 requires a very speed processor and not to mention , a snappy graphics card

  3. kia ora hello well ive got a ps2 nui big and 1 downloaded that sms boot cd zip but to find no iso file in it .where can i go to formatt a external hdd i have a few i llive in sydney ozie land and wouldnt know how to formatt to a fat32? i tink is what i need i have softwere to burn .i got the aron one ok but i need to formatt the drive first is that right? [email protected] i like this idea to make the ps2 to be a meida center long live the ps2

  4. I was wondering, whether i need to insert the uLaunchElf ISO CD everytime i want to play mp3 or divX movies from the HDD? Is there anyway to load everything from the internal HDD? I’m using the fat ps2 with a network card and 160GB Maxtor HDD. And the XMB UI looks so cool, except that, i need to put the CD everytime i boot up….
    Any help is greatly appreciated 🙂 Thx ^^

    1. Well the maximum Playstation 2 can take is 2GB. It seems that it doesn’t support more then 4GB for certain pen drives. I have 8GB ones and it doesn’t want to work. People recommended me to go for 2GB.

  5. Hello.
    Just to update… With PS2 you will be able to play MP3, WMA, MP4 Songs, AVI movies and JPG files… 4 GB pendrive just works fine…You can play NES games, SNES games, Gameboy, Mame etc. with their respective emulators…

  6. thanks for the wonderful write up.
    I am facing a few problems here – i have a slim modded ps2 with matrix infinity chip installed. It is of the 9000 series and i followed the guide and wrote the sms cd image on a mserbaer cd rom. The problem is the ps2 is not detecting the cd at all.
    I used Nero at first to burnt the image and later used Alcohol to burn it. Both times unsuccessful. Can you please advice where i am going wrong.
    supras last blog post..the economy and the escapist Indian

  7. I am wondering if your PS2 is modded and can it read certain CD-ROM. Try burning it a slower speed. If it fails , there is another method or ISO which I can prepare !
    Thanks for dropping by !

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  12. What do I need to install on to my os2 fat in order to play videos from my 8g pen drive plz can anyone help ? Tiaxx

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