An Introduction to DLNA – Media Streaming

dlna_01
It seems now that every new device that is coming to the market place wants to stream, but what exactly is DLNA streaming?

The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) was set up as a non-profit trade organisation by Sony to produce a series of guidelines, based around existing technologies and standards, that would allow devices to share media over your home network.

DLNA compatible devices allow you to share your photos, films, music etc. between your television, smart devices, computers and any other DLNA certified devices on your home network.

What Do You Need?

To start with you’re going to need a media source. The most commonly used device to store information is either a Network Attached Storage hard drive, NAS for short, or a computer. A modern computer running Microsoft Windows Vista or later supports media sharing out of the box, all you need to do is enable it. However, the most efficient solution is still a NAS drive.

Panasonic TX42AS600: DLNA compatible TV

Panasonic TX42AS600:
DLNA compatible TV

Most modern NAS drives specify that they support DLNA streaming. They come in various configurations, from single hard drive units, from the likes of Western Digital, Seagate, Hitachi etc. to more advance multi-bay solutions from companies like Netgear, Synology and Qnap. I would generally recommend a twin drive solution. These can be set to mirror the drives, meaning you have a full back up of all your data, just in case one of the drives fail.

Playback

Your information is ready to be accessed… what kind of devices can access your data? At Richer Sounds we sell a number of different devices that specify DLNA compatibility. These include:

  • Smart TVs
  • Smart Blu-ray players
  • Network equipped surround sound receivers
  • Tablets
  • Multiroom wireless speaker systems
  • Hi-fi audio streamers
  • Network compatible Freeview PVRs

However DLNA compatibility does not guaranty that a device will playback all your files. When selecting a device you must check the product you’re interested in supports the formats in which your files are saved.

DLNA & AirPlay

AirPlay is a reliable system Apple developed to allow its various devices to share media from an iTunes library. AirPlay compatible devices are fairly common, but not ubiquitous: Apple requires manufacturers to pay a licence to include the technology in their products.

Unfortunately, due to the way Apple likes the way its devices work together, Airplay is incompatible with the DLNA standard. Fear not, it is still possible to enable DLNA streaming on a Apple computer. All you need to do is download a Universal Plug and Play program, or the slightly catchier acronym UPNP. This simple piece of software shares to the network any media you wish to make available.

Marantz MCR610: Stream music wirelessly

Marantz MCR610:
Stream music wirelessly

The only caveat to this is any media you have bought from iTunes with digital rights management software encoding. These days it’s only movies and TV shows bought from iTunes that have DMR: music files are open. It does mean that you can only open these files through the iTunes software however, a problem that also occurs on Windows PCs.

The simpler way round the problem is to buy an Apple TV, particularly if you live an “Apple household”. Apple TV also has a number of apps and smart services built in. The limitation to Apple TV is that they cannot access NAS drives, it will only work with Apple products. You are also limited to files stored in the iTunes library, which is a hindrance if you want to rip and digitally store your DVD collection.

Conclusion

Home network streaming is here to stay. It will become ever more important, as we buy and store more of our movies and music digitally. It provides a convenient and logical way of accessing your media in the home.

In this guide I have outlined a few of the current technologies available to you. Here at Richer Sounds we do our very best to keep abreast of what’s happening in the fantastic world of tech. If you would like any more information, or are considering setting up your own DLNA compatible network, pop in and have a chat. We will be able to answer any question you may have about DLNA, getting all of your compatible devices talking to one another, like one big happy family!

Author – Jon, Cardiff store