Don't mention DLNA. I did, but I think got away with it...
A difficult promise to fulfill - which may be why it’s only whispered to the public. DLNA members like Samsung, Acer and Microsoft seem never to use the initials. Samsung calls its implementation “AllShare”. Acer’s brand name for the technology is “clear.fi”. And Microsoft wraps up DLNA in its all-embracing Media Player and WIndows 7's Play To... command.
This media player isn't an official DLNA device - so it's capable of handling formats like MKV and ISO that are outside the rigid restrictions imposed by the Alliance
Panasonic is a notable exception. "We do promote it as DLNA, because we think that's more recognisable for the consumer," says Steve Lucas, Panasonic Product Specialist for Consumer Products. "But then we explain which DLNA file formats we support. One of the things that I think is confusing with DLNA is that although there are a number of file formats that are part of the affiliation, it's down to the individual manufacturer which formats are supported in their products."
It was Microsoft that first devised UPnP AV - the universal plug-and-play protocol that forms the underpinning of DLNA.
“UPnP was the original standard and DLNA is a certification process on top of that,” explains Bob Hannent, CTO at set-top box manufacturer Humax. Significantly, Hannent’s own company hasn’t chosen to go down the DLNA route. ”We don’t even mention UPnP,” he says. “We’re just referring to ‘home media networking’.”
Some software options
Users of Windows 7 are already in the game, and earlier versions of Windows can be updated to suportg DLNA simply by upgrading to the latest version of Windows Media Player.
Twonky offers a suite of products that enjoy the approbation of the Alliance, but are not officially certified, because no framework for software certification has been hacked out yet.
TVersity is a very well liked Windows-only DLNA-type server available in both a free and a paid-for version.
As its name implies, the PS3 Media Player is targetted solely at the Sony Playstation 3, but has the merit of being cross-platform and free.
Boxee is also cross-platform and freely downloadable, but with much wider scope - it can run on the first-gen Apple TV, for example. A hardware implementation from D-Link is expected toward the end of the year.
Next page: All you need is UPnP?
I didn't vote you down, but I expect this comment may have had something to do with it..
"because your TV won't play your pirated videos."
bit of an assumption there, b'aint?
Half right, I'd say
It's true that many TVs (and other playback devices) are decidedly lacking in format support. But I do think it's still appropriate to blame DLNA for at least part of that.
Most of us here are technical, and understand all the complexities and interactions involved. But ordinary punters are not. And if DLNA is to mean anything useful, then it should surely be some guarantee of compatibility beyond just "yep, I can probably show you there's a server on your network."
The point of marks such as these, from the view of the novice consumer, is to make things simple and to make it easy to make purchasing decisions. DLNA ought to guarantee that when you buy a TV with the DLNA logo, and connect it to a network on which you have a DLNA server, you can access if not all, then certainly the vasty majority of your media.
You can lay the blame at the door of the TV makers, or the software, or wherever you like.
But ultimately, as far as the consumer is concerned, it is the fault of DLNA, which paints an image on its own website - just look at http://www.dlna.org/digital_living/possibilities/ - that is far removed from the reality experienced by many consumers.
If an organisation say "DLNA Certified® products are built to work together, even though they come from many different companies" and that turns out not to be the case, then I think it's pretty fair game to blame the organisation.
OK, not really, but seriously how can you have an article mentioning Boxee but not the much more popular system it's derived from (XBMC)?
Does Boxee have significant DLNA functionality that doesn't exist in XBMC? I haven't seen anything to indicate that. Boxee's selling points vs. XBMC, as far as I can tell, are the social/Web 2.0 aspects of its interface, the new/forthcoming release of the Boxee Box (or whatever it's called) which means you can put it in without building your own HTPC or hacking an Apple TV, and *maybe* integration with Hulu (but not, AFAIK, Netflix). Everything else XBMC does just as good if not better.
Not trying to knock Boxee or rake El Reg over the coals too much here, but AFAIK XBMC is significantly more popular and if you're going to mention one you should probably mention the other too.
That said, TY for the article - this is an obscure but increasingly important subject now that just about everything AV is coming with an ethernet jack in the back these days.
DLNA is for geeks only
DLNA is in no way ready for the mainstream. I've been posting on AVForums for years both giving and getting help with DLNA, and the best conclusion that I can make is that you will always end up hitting at least one hurdle, but more than likely several.
My best advice would be - find out what formats your renderer supports and encode/transcode to those formats from the outset. This is especially true for NAS devices that don't have the muscle to transcode on the fly.
What's particularly annoying is that a lot of renderers will play back media from a USB device, but will not play it back over DLNA (e.g avi files on Bravia TVs).
UPnP in AV equipment still requires you to enable UPnP on your router's firewall which means your DNLA equipment can happily go punch massive holes through your firewall without your knowledge. Once you've enabled UPnP just to get your AV services to work, you're open to vulnerabilities on your PC from malicious web sites and apps that can punch holes in the firewall.
No chance UPnP is getting enabled on my network.