Internet Media Server
Sure, you could just connect a PC to your TV, but these provide convenient interfaces across all your devices. That means apps for TV streaming boxes, smartphones, tablets, and web-based interfaces for everything else. They even work over the Internet.
Bring Your Own Media
There are some good free software packages for this, but you’ll need to bring your own media. If you have a large collection of local video and music files — perhaps videos ripped from DVDs and music ripped from audio CDs — this may be the ideal way to access that content on all your devices without relying on streaming services like Netflix and Spotify.
These apps often allow you to browse and access photos, too — perfect if you’re the type of person who keeps a local photo collection, too.
Plex vs. Media Browser: Choose One
The two biggest solutions to recommend are probably Plex and Media Browser. Both work similarly, offering a server you install on a desktop PC, laptop, NAS device, or dedicated home server. You could also try Kodi, formerly known as XBMC — it can be a bit more complicated to set up and works a bit differently.
Plex offers clients for the Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, and PlayStation platforms — as well as Chromecast support. They offer mobile apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows 8. There’s also a web interface and powerful Plex application for computers, if you hook up a computer to your TV.
Media Browser offers clients for the Roku and some other TV-streaming devices, including Chromecast support. There are also mobile apps for for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows 8. Want to use it on a computer? There’s a convenient web-based interface.
Both have fairly similar features, although Plex definitely offers a more comprehensive suite of apps — PlayStation, Xbox, and Fire TV support, for example. However, some Plex services cost money. The iOS Plex app costs $5, and the Xbox and PlayStation app both require a “Plex Pass” subscription that will cost you $5 a month.