Besides VieraCast, Panasonic also offers DLNA support, which is accessed either by choosing ‘Media Servers’ as one of the AV inputs, or tapping the ‘Viera Tools’ button. It’s fairly limited support, offering only photo and video playback. Video is limited to MPEG 2 Programme Streams - essentially .VOB files - and DivX.
DLNA access on the Panasonic
Those files play back well enough, and browsing through the folders on my Synology Diskstation was swift, with no fancy graphics slowing things down. But I did find some XviD-encoded files that were unplayable, actually making the TV restart. If video playback is what you’re after, stick with the output of the DivX encoder, or unencrypted VOBs.
Many of the Panasonic sets also have Freesat tuners. Though there’s not yet support for iPlayer via Freesat’s interactive services, Panasonic tells us it’s coming "by the end of the year".
Philips also has sets with internet connectivity, called NetTV, though it wasn’t willing to lend one to include in this feature, saying it prefers people to buy its sets for their picture quality.
But I did test a Philips 9704 earlier this year, and it features built in Wi-Fi. Unlike other sets, the internet access it provides is full unfettered web browsing, accessed from the TV’s home screen. There’s a small selection of sites pre-selected, with optimised content, but you can enter any web address you like. However, we found that the CSS navigation on some sites didn’t work, and nor did Flash video on sites like the Guardian, so while you have full net access, it’s perhaps not complete.
Although the on-screen keyboard makes it fairly simple to enter common URL parts like ‘.com’ and ‘http://’, the overall experience is pretty slow, like using an PC with not enough memory.
DLNA support is patchy too: as with the Sony, the only thing I could play were VOB files.
Just give me a dumb display...
... that allows me to connect, through a standardised port, the newest low-powered tech which comes along, that will do all the processing and content delivery, and can be replaced with the next, better thing, without disposing of my perfectly good dumb display, as and when I see fit.
Let us be absolutely honest......
....this is crap. Connect a bloody pc to the thing for crying out loud, then you have proper internet TV. Most of the modern flat screens come with three or four HDMI ports or (if you absolutely insist on connecting that way) a VGA port. This is a very poor facility which smells strongly of trying to lock you into something which they can use to seperate from even more money than the frakking TV cost you in the first place. The only thing I intend to use the ethernet port on our new Sammy for is firmware upgrades when/if necessary. TV@internet my arse!
Reliance on 'standardised' DLNA
I own a Sony KDL40W5500 and trying to get the DLNA to work is certainly not for the technologically challenged. I have finally settled on a solution that works great for me and my (not so technical) wife, but it's taken a while. Though I run an all Linux shop at home, the forums show problems for people on all platforms and this seems to recur for TVs with DLNA from all manufacturers.
For the record, the W5500 (and their siblings) support MPEG2 PS with AC3 audio and AVCHD video (MPEG2 TS with H264 video and AC3 audio) without transcoding, and also MP3, uncompressed PCM (i.e. WAV) and JPEG files.
My biggest niggle now is that you can't browse music for the next track to play while currently playing a track - something my Netgear MP101 was able to do via UPnP 7-8 years ago!
To those stating that they want TVs with a MCE extender built in... why would anyone want to be more tied to MS technology in their display device?? At least DLNA is supposed to be a standard, MCE extenders certainly are not.
Why on earth would anyone buy this?
Built-in means lock-in. A cheap external Internet thin client STB that can be thrown away when the next technology wunder comes along will be a much better bet. Pile in a hefty network disk store and scoff at Internet TV.
And BTW why are TV with analogue receivers still sold when soon there will be nothing for them to receive? Is this not as suspect as selling a 405-line set of a betamax video recorder?
Looking at that motley lot, it's not hard too look wistfully at Project Canvas and the treasures it might unleash. Why the disbelief that allowing access to a tiny, pre-selected section of the internet is going to be a successful selling point?