Originally Posted by jfabes
1) my laptop sees the 3311 and i have full web control on the http address. on the 3311, when i go to the network input, then media server, there is nothing there. how do i get the denon to recognize the files on my laptop?
You'll have to install a media server on your laptop. I've had good luck with Twonky.
2) once 1 above is complete, will the 3311 only play the music files i have in itunes through the folders or will it actually play itunes? in other words, what i want to do is sit on my couch with my laptop, open itunes, double click on a song and have it play through the 3311. or do i need "airplay" or apple tv to do this?
It won't "actually play iTunes". It will give you access to whatever media files your media server provides access to. You have to set-up the server with a list of folders on your computer to make available. This could include iTunes content and other content.
If you want to open iTunes on your computer and play to the receiver, you will need the AirPlay option. You can then select the receiver from within iTunes.
3) if i get apple tv (seems like the better deal based off what i read on here), will it allow me to show pictures i have stored on my laptop under "my pictures" or will the media server mentioned in 1 above take care of that? In other words, how would i show a slide-show of photos on my laptop's hard drive?
Your media server will serve-out pictures. You'll have to configure the server to tell it where your pictures are.
There are other options, as well. Personally, I find navigating content using the receiver's on-screen menus to be tedious. (Ditto for my Samsung TV's on-screen server navigation.)
Fortunately, the AVR-3311 is a DMR (Digital Media Renderer) as well. That means you can use an external "controller" to direct content to the receiver. Think of DMR as "AirPlay for the rest of us". (Not tied to Apple products.)
One option is a iPad app called DiXim. You browse the server on your iPad - a lot easier with a touch screen than with an on-screen display. The iPad doesn't actually stream the content to the receiver. It just sends it a URL to tell it where to find it on a server, and the receiver than streams it from the server.
Another is the TwonkyBeam Firefox plugin. (I think maybe Apple-only?) I really like TwonkyBeam especially when used with a TV which can play video. (The AVR-3311 won't play video content, unfortunately.) You can, say, browse YouTube on your laptop, and select media from the TwonkyBeam sidebar to send to your TV or receiver. (audio and images only for the AVR-3311).
If you want a full-time media server, many routers now include this functionality. Just plug a USB drive into the router, and enable the media server. Better still would be running third-party firmware, such as DD-WRT or OpenWRT on your router. However, the router probably would not have enough power for real-time transcoding, which is a good feature to look for in a fully-featured PC-based media server.