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Digital home group touts convergence spec

Plug'n'Pray to come to hi-fis, DVD players etc.

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The Digital Home Working Group yesterday issued the first full version of its scheme for bringing the worlds of home entertainment systems and home computing together through wired and wireless links.

And on the back of the launch, the convergence industry body re-named itself the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), the better to focus on promoting interoperability than defining specifications to make it happen.

The DLNA's Home Networked Device Interoperability Guidelines 1.0 define content delivery and display devices: Digital Media Servers and Digital Media Renders, in the DLNA's parlance. One server should be capable of delivering content to multiple display devices, and each display device should be capable of receiving data from multiple servers.

The DLNA's framework to make this possible uses Universal Plug'n'Play (UPnP) for device discovery and media management. Underlying that are IP-based Ethernet and Wi-Fi transport networks and HTTP for content delivery. All these technologies need to be supported by servers and clients that want to be declared DLNA compliant.

The organisation expects to begin giving its stamp of approval to products in Q4. Approved playback devices must be capable of handling JPEG for still images, MPEG 2 for video and LPCM (Linear Pulse Code Modulation) for multi-channel audio. LPCM is the format used by DVD Audio and DVD Video. LPCM offers up to 8 channels of 48kHz or 96kHz sampling frequency and 16, 20 or 24 bits per sample.

These are baseline formats - devices can support others, such as MP3 or WMV, but they must support these three for DLNA compliance. Indeed, the DLNA itself plans to add other content types to its Guidelines over time. An "upcoming addendum" to the 1.0 spec. will add GIF, PNG, TIFF, MP3, WMA, AC-3, AAC, ATRAC 3+, MPEG 4 parts 2 and 10, and WMV 9 to the list.

The DLNA also said it is preparing specifications for 'smart' remote control devices in version 1.1 of the Guidelines, which will take in not only dedicated devices but PDAs and mobile phones too.

The DLNA comprises 145 members from the IT, CE and communications worlds, but is led by Intel, Microsoft, IBM, Sony, Nokia, Samsung, Panasonic and others. ®

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