back to article WTF is... DLNA?

DVD and Blu-ray Disc players, internet radios, sound systems and projectors, TV set-top boxes and the TVs themselves have traditionally been a motley crew, arguing among themselves in so far as they communicate at all, about who should do what and to whom. The noble aim of the DLNA - the Digital Living Network Alliance - is to …

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  1. Milkfloat
    FAIL

    In summary

    In summary: DLNA = Total Crap?

  2. BristolBachelor Gold badge
    FAIL

    Steaming pile of *%&*

    DLNA is a marketing cartel, and therefore is evil squared!

    You have barely touched on how bad it is. I have tried several products to get a simple working system. My (DLNA) Sony TV will not play files from a (DLNA) Iomega NAS. An MPEG2 file will not play from the MS DLNA server, but will play from the PSP server (with no transcoding). My Denon will play FLAC files by DLNA, but the DLNA servers will not serve them to it.

    And that is before the whole issue of what is a movie file or a sound file. It is supposed to make things easier for the general public, but to get it to work, you have to find out all about different containers, different codecs, even if the original encoder uses motion estimation coding or not. And with the dumbing down of things, if it doesn't work, there is no way on earth to find out why, or to change settings to make it work.

    Calling DLNA a steaming pile of shit is an insult to shit.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Yep..

    Yep.. thought DLNA was the answer when I bought a new tv.. thought I found a good combo, but coulnt verify it.. a Samsung 'Allshare' tv annd twonky on a dns 313 nas... all seems fine with audio and avi.. but all the mkv files I created from my home media refuses to work.. twonky supports it (streams to my pc) and the tv will play mkv from a usb drive.. but never fromt he NAS after lots of tinkering with configs etc... a real pain.. plus, the FF & rewind is broken for all files...

    1. Mitch Kent

      Try renaming to .avi

      It's a problem I've seen on other implementations - no guarantee's but you might get lucky. I believe the phrase used where I read the fix was "inelegant but easy".

  4. David Hicks

    It's quite good. The Xbox 360 never did play nice with others though

    I've used a variety of FOSS and commercial DLNA servers and clients. They all work to varying degrees.

    I think the best combination would probably be a playstation 3 setup to play against a good, powerful server that ran mediatomb, where mediatomb was set up to transcode all the unsupported stuff. It's annoying as hell that the playstation just refuses to play a lot of things. My Samsung Tv can do more formats but for some reason lacks the ability to pause.

    And the Xbox 360 refuses to play with most FOSS servers other than ushare. And then ushare has to be built with xbox protocol extensions.

    Despite DLNA being nothing new, it seems we're still quite a way from the seemless "plug into network, play all media" scenario that they were hoping for. Or maybe they weren't, what with the tightly controlled format specs.

  5. kingosticks
    Thumb Up

    PMS

    Playstation Media Server also works (and has for some time) on xbox 360s. Despite it's name its not just for the playstation. This, and others I assume, support on-the-fly transcoding from numerous DNLA unfriendly formats to those that will play. I find this to be a an incredibly useful feature and maybe one that could have been mentioned in the "Some software options" section.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Sir

      Any chance of a link to show how that's set up please?

      1. kingosticks

        It just seems to work...

        Sorry I don't have a link for that I'm afraid. Mine was setup for a playstation but then I randomly tried it on the xbox and it seemed to work. I do know it's been unofficially supported since v.1.10.1 and I guess that's why there is little (no) documentation. If you are interested I can see exactly what config I have later.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon

          Sir

          I was kind of wondering how you got it onto the 360 in the first place, unless it's in the download center :)

          1. kingosticks

            Crossed wires

            Ahh i now see what you are asking. I meant that PMS can provide content to the xbox _client_ in a format it was happy to play.

        2. Sir Runcible Spoon
          FAIL

          Sir

          Ignore me, I'm being a div. Just realised that the server software is on a remote server, we're not talking client software here are we.

          I'll just go make some more complex changes to this banks' firewalls :)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Only TwonkyMedia is DLNA certified.

    Which is why it works flawlessly with other DLNA products like the PS3.

    I trued TVersity and PS3Mediaserver, they worked, sort of, but were mammoth in their resource usage and rather flakey.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Alert

      If I recall correctly

      Twonky doesn't do transcoding. If your content is dlna friendly then yes, Twonky rules... but if your content is outside the box (mkv's in particular) then you either need transcoding on the server-side or a more flixible player on the other end (htpc running xbmc, wd tv, popcorn hour, etc).

      With dlna-capable tv's or blu ray players, and transcoding with something like tversity, you at least stand a chance (with enough luck and elbow grease) of being able to play content without a dedicated player or htpc.

      1. Dapprman

        Wrong

        Newer versions of Twonky do transcode, how well I don't know as I've not needed to use this option, but it is now there

        1. Annihilator Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Transcode == happy

          Transcoding is usually the only way to guarantee success. I've seen Twonky and TVersity et al do transcoding, and it works well as I believe the DLNA protocols mean the client declares what it is to the server, so it know what formats will work. The problem is when you're using a relatively dumb NAS that has no CPU ability to transcode on the fly - at this point you may as well be utilising SMB style folder browsing.

          The AV format also seems to vary hugely. My PS3 will play some DIVX/MP3 in an AVI container just fine, and other seemingly identical ones will fail for no reason. What's equally frustrating is that it will play them both, when plugged in as a USB drive.

          UPNP/DLNA will continue to be a bodge for the forseeable future is my unhappy guess.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Thumb Up

            @Dapprman,

            Dapprman,

            Thanks for clearing that up - it's been a while since I've looked into Twonky and so much changes so quickly with this stuff it's hard to determine what info is current vs. old and out of date.

            Annihilator,

            Again, as I understand it, transcoding relies on having a proper profile for the device you're trying to stream to... so if you're trying to setup DLNA streaming from a server (lets say Tversity) and a Sony DLNA Blu Ray player, you have to find a compatible player profile or maybe even cobble one together if none exist. Ultimately, IMO, the problem is that the player-side of the equation isn't well documented and changes based on firmware versions.

            While I don't have much experience yet with DLNA, I have seen similar problems with video ripping/encoding and playing direct. You pretty much have to home-brew your combination of encoder and settings to get it right for what you're trying to play it on (with the exception of VLC and XBMC which will play pretty much anything you throw at it that's not corrupt/damaged) and that process can be extremely frustrating.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A long way to go indeed.

    Maybe one day someone in the Alliance will have the brilliant idea to add support for subtitles.

    If UPNP was offered up as a final year project from a computer science undergrad I'd say well done, but coming from an industry alliance, it just makes me cringe.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    DLNA Totally Flawed

    If DLNA do not specify formats that end devices must support it will never work, and the consumer experience will be terrible.

    I used DLNA in the early days of Xbox and PS3. At first they did not support DivX but then they did. Neither publish which Profiles they supported, so some content just did not play. There was no clue to which files would play and which wouldn't.

    Support for subtitles is woeful, although MKV container has much better support for this. Once again the end device needs to support it.

    Given DLNA is supposed to work over a network there are no specifications for buffering. The PS3 DLNA implementation broke buffering back in 2.5. With a bit of buffering it is possible to play SD content over WiFi G.

    If you look at the new generation of media players, WD TV Live, and AC Ryan PlayOn, while they support DLNA, best results are achieved using a windows/samba share. You can even play a ripped DVD with full menus and subtitles over a share.

    1. Paul Shirley
      Thumb Down

      DNLA not even a good start

      The only device I've ever managed to get acceptable DLNA playback on is my PC. Completely pointless since the same PC will play the same files across a share and do it better - I can find the files faster, trick play actually works and the underpowered CPU in the NAS server doesn't melt down in the process.

      DNLA. Not even a good start.

    2. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

      Been working with two new DLNA setups just last week...

      A good summary of the capabilities of XBox 360 and PS3 is here (http://bit.ly/bSKcz9 - google cache link, original removed for some reason). By all accounts the PS3 stutters when streaming MP4 over DLNA, but I'm told the latest firmware fixes that - will be checking that later this week.

      MKV is a nice container but support by any of the major hardware manufacturers is non-existant, and the only (likely useful) features it has that MP4 doesn't is soft subtitles and AC3 audio.

      If you're using a DLNA renderer that's in hardware, I'd suggest ripping as MP4 with AVC1 video and AAC 6-channel audio. This will work on PS3 and the C-series Samsung LED TV's at least (sadly not the XBox 360, which can't handle 5+1 AAC) and it's about as close to a standard as you're going to get.

      Overall, however, I agree it's a shambles, and I can see why the manufacturers aren't trumpeting DLNA: it's just the comms protocol, and most the battle is in file-formats and codecs.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      "best results are achieved using a windows/samba share"

      QFT

      Unfortunately this requires an HTPC or capable player (which is always an additional external box IME) to accomplish, but no doubt... this runs significantly better and is light years easier to get running.

  9. Mage Silver badge

    uPNP and SSD

    I disable both of these as it is the PC waving a flag "Infect me" (uPnP allows a device on the network to install its driver on your PC).

    If you need to connect something to Cat5e ethernet or WiFi you need to know something about networking. It's not much more to figure or set IP of a file serving device.

    DLNA is a failure.

    1. MnM
      Welcome

      The Overqualified for Currys Blues

      Where will you work?

      This is about UPnP AV, not UPnP.

      1. Bod
        Alert

        UPnP

        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.

        1. Anthony 13

          Huh, my DLNA worked without UPnP ...

          ... well ... at least until I got to Hong Kong ... now it just kinda works.

  10. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
    Flame

    Wasted so much time

    trying to get things to work, and have just given up.

    I could, on the odd occasion, get audio to work, but I have never managed to get my Buffalo Linkstation Live, that is suppose to to be DLNA compliant, actually server any video, even that encoded to one of the supposed supported formats. This was to a number of clients including Xbox 360, Windows clients, and open source clients.

    The whole concept of specifying the container and codecs required in the standard is just a cynical attempt at building in obsolescence into consumer electronic devices to guarantee future sales! It sucks, and anybody who says otherwise is either a marketing shill, or just does not understand.

    Nowadays, where possible, I stream stdout to stdin using SSH as the transport and mplayer as the player. Not got the gloss of a nice GUI, but just works anywhere you have knocked a known port through the network. Don't even need to share anything. And I get to avoid running the hacker friendly protocol uPnP, which will advertise the complete capabilities of the systems on your network to anybody who can get snoop it.

  11. Elmer Phud
    WTF?

    All wrapped up and ready?

    It just seems to me to be a poor attempt at locking down -rather than freeing up - devices that belong to a manufacturers club.

    "Other formats - MP3 and Flac, for instance - are optional and may not necessarily be accepted by some DLNA-compliant devices" Optional? MP3 (for devices) and FLAC (for people with ears) should be standard. It almost smells of ' trying to do something about protection' by restricting file formats but, as usual with these manufacturers clubs, they will all argue and go thier own ways.

    So, no downloading audio torrents as they may not work ? Or trying to tie it all up so devices refuse to download popular file formats?

    No MKV? pah! and thrice pah!

  12. Jonathan 29

    stop gap

    I am glad someone has finally written an article about this. At best I would describe DLNA as adequate, but really only a stop gap to something better. Windows 7 works, but the quality of video streamed via DLNA is appalling. I mainly use Wild Media Server to stream from a Revo to my bedroom Bravia with good results as the software is highly configurable, will transcode and will even fast forward and rewind, but the interface on the TV is so primitive. It is better than having an external box, but only just.

  13. Chris Holt
    Paris Hilton

    Blame the politics of FOSS and proprietary formats in the past (present?)

    From the sidelines you wonder how hard it could be to make one standard for AV streaming and control. However, Sony Apple MS et al worked hard in the early noughties to create their own 'standards' in the hope of inflated licensing revenues, and since loosely apply standards like DLNA and Bluetooth (inc AVRCP).

    Something like DLNA should be industry managed and funded, not requiring annual fees that prohibit all but the biggest or most dedicated players to participate. And it should be rigorous enough that it supports a small number of publicly available unlicensed codecs and a simple control mechanism. Microsoft/Apple/Sony would inevitably create their own extensions, but if those extensions were in the form of an XML schema, the DTD would be publically available to allow 3rd party control of some functionality or other that was outside the bounds of normal usage.

    But normal usage surely should include the basic ff rw pause controls and the streaming of videos and audio in an agreed format, so you know that any phone that implemented DLNA could stream to any other DLNA device.

    Is it too late now to recover from this - where do you go now? *Another* standard?

    I had a proper geeky triumph moment the other day when I finally got, after well over an hour, PS3MediaServer to stream to my Bravia TV. God knows how a muggle could have got that to work.

    Paris, because we more about how she works(*) than DLNA

    (*) edited from what I originally wrote so this could get past Miss Bee

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      The muggle comment

      I lol'd - for realz!

      Never seen anyone use it outside its original context but very appropriate for this conversation.

  14. Jay 2
    Linux

    That may explain a few things

    My PS3 accepts DLNA stuff from both my Netgear ReadyNAS and the Mac running Twonky (and before my Win PC running TVersity). Overall am very happy there.

    On a slightly less happy note, the Pure radio will happily accept stuff from Mac/Twonky but won't pick up anything from the ReadyNAS.

    1. Nosher

      Pure Evoke Flow and O2 Jogglers

      I found with Coherence (Python-based DNLA server) that I had to set the DNLA/UPnP version to Version 1 for my O2 Joggler to work with my content. My Pure Evoke Flow, on the other hand, seems to work flawlessly with both Coherence and MediaTomb - however, you might get some joy just by changing the version your server provides.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    mkv files

    I have a DLNA setup with a netgear stora + some chinese hd player over a network setup. It also did not play my mkv files, even though it supported them. Renamed the files to .avi and they play fine- bizarre fix, but it worked for me :)

  16. JP19

    Use a PC and have done with it

    For the last 6 years or so my television has been a PC with plasma display, AV amp, and Gyration wireless keyboard and mouse. It plays all the media I have from anywhere on my network.

    1. Jonathan 29
      Go

      Just the one TV then?

      What happens when you want to watch your media somewhere else in the house? I just want a low profile TV that will play online/offline/digital content with a standard interface. I am personally looking forward to the LG /Plex integrated TVs next year.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      Indeed

      I use a knackered old original XBOX running XBMC, must be getting on for 5-6 years old now, streaming from ReadyNAS. It still streams all my DivX 70's and 80's comedy shows and 1930/40 B&W white films, which being pretty shite analogue tape-2-DVD conversions originally don't need to be 720p. I can suffer the very occasional pixelation on my HD TV screen. Simply download VLC for the iPad and XBMC for my PCs and I can still stream anywhere in the house when the TV is in use for the kids 360.

      Need to live on the bleeding edge all the time with absolutely everything, still mystifies me a little and only seems to serve to line the pockets of the tech manufacturers. They want to try out some new standard they're not so sure of, they push out some half-baked thing into the market to see if it will stick. Some poor sods then get stiffed when the standard gets ignored. I know I've been burnt too many times before, so I am happy to wait for some other poor saps to get the ball rolling, before I buy in.

  17. Dapprman

    Blame your playback devices not DLNA

    If you want to playback your streamed media then it's easy enough to check in advance that your hardware can cope. Certainly the common DLNA servers, such as Twonky will pass anything on and this works, so please don't say that the standard is broken because your TV won't play your pirated videos.

    If you want easy streaming of any file type then you'll need a dedicated device in between your streamer and TV - such as as Asus O!Play (the one I use), but then beware as format standards such as mkv also keep changing and this too results in streaming being broken.

    I use Twonky on my QNAP NAS with little problem. The only playback issues have been either down to the mkv format being changed yet again or my player (as it's my Asus O!Play that can't do FF and RW properly). On mp3 streaming I have no problems there.

    1. Dapprman

      Oooh I've upset some one

      By not targeting DLNA and saying it works for me and that people ought to look at where their setups are really broken, people are marking me down.

      I feel like I've said some thing against Apple of Linux :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not sure what you said either...

        I've spent more hours looking at this stuff than I really care to admit, and what you said definitely rings true to me. Hell, most of the transcoding profiles that are out there for various players have come from insane amounts of trial and error because the player vendors haven't properly defined what formats they will/won't accept. They're also shooting at a moving target as player behavior changes with firmware updates.

        I can't understand why anyone would call that a server problem.

        Maybe you've upset the people who tried to get this stuff working and couldn't with one of the transcoding servers. I can imagine that would be very frustrating, but at the end of the day if there's not a transcode profile for the player you're using *and* someone out there saying "works for me"... it's probably not going to work.

      2. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Sir

        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?

        1. Dapprman

          @ Sir Runcible Spoon

          You sir may be correct.

    2. Nigel Whitfield.

      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.

  18. Rob
    Thumb Up

    They all play nicely in my playground

    I have a couple of Netgear ReadyNAS products, samsung TV and Blu-ray player and 3 PC's with windows 7 and they all play nicely. The samsung kit took a number of OTA updates before it got there though, but now I can watch movies and pictures and play music through the Blu-ray home cinema all with great quality, especially the .mts files from the camcorder, they all come across in their glorious HD quality.

    It's hassle free at the moment, so much so that my wife can use it which is glowing thumbs up in itself (plus it only took me 10mins to explain it to her). So I can see how this (if marketed properly) would definately appeal to joe public.

    P.S. The samsung stuff is doing it all via WiFi as well at the moment until I get round to doing a bit of wiring, so another plus point for that as I would have thought the WiFi would definately be a point of failure.

    1. Elmer Phud
      Happy

      Hardly 'consumer ready' is it?

      Not just this post but others have said how well it all works ---- eventually. Some of us have niether the time nor the nous to arse aruond with kit just to play movies and audio. It should either work on not.

      "It's hassle free at the moment" Yeah, 'at the moment' which is not exactly reassuring, is it?

      Like another poster who change the MKV file extension to AVI to get it to work -- why the hell should we have to fart around when the major companies can't agree with each other nor implement something that actually works.

      (plus it only took me 10mins to explain it to her)

      again, ' yeah?' how long did it take to get it all working? how much time was spent with yu fiddling about with all the kit unavailable to others and all the coffee and cussing that goes with it? How much is your time worth to get thier kit working? I'd guess possibly more than you paid for all the bits. It's not bloody Meccano - it's supposed to work out of the box. It'd be interesting to find out what your missus thought of it - 'Oh god, not another week of swearing and no telly. Another expensive hobby that's supposed to be state of the art and revolutionary and it was easier just to get up and put a DVD on'?

      (smiley 'cos it ain't a rant)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    DLNA

    Isn't that one of the benefits being abolished by the coalition?

  20. Mayhem

    Tversity to xbox360 works great

    Albeit with some tweaking of transcoding and resolutions needed every time you update the software. Still, its the easiest and most reliable way I've found to get around the connecting pc to tv issue especially over a network.

    I would like a way of streaming a ripped DVD though, my setup will only play individual Vob files, rather than letting you load the dvd as a whole.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Sir

      Try using anyDVD and rip to a single .vob file, works for me.

  21. Mike Brown

    its a little flakey but...

    its easier than the alternative. I have a PS3 and a samsung tv wired to my router, and the 2 laptops in the house stream wirelessly, and it all works great. Sometimes i need to reboot the laptops, but most of the time it "just works" Having MKV support for the ps3 is a god send, and being able to watch anything anywhere is liberating.

    Yes DNLA could be better, but for a microsoft licence based tool, its not bad.

  22. Martin Hargreaves
    Thumb Down

    I'm glad it's not just me

    I quite quite excited about it when I read about it on the specs of my new wifi enabled Sony TV. Elgato EyeConnect works fine as a DLNA service on MacOS, but same, pretty much no files could be decoded by the TV.

    The way forward is possibly some FOSS thing that can transcode in realtime on the server side and understands various client profiles.

    This shit is what sells Apple products really, stay in the walled garden and you don't lose hours and hours trying to finding a compatible set of stuff. I honestly can't be arsed any more (I'm even selling the NetApp Filers that live in the garage....)

    So, yes, IMHO, DLNA = toss. Back to Apple to keep sanity intact.

  23. Craig Chambers
    FAIL

    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).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Exactly!

      Exactly (play on usb not DLNA).. I mean wtf is that all about.. why bother with it at all if its done half @rsed..

      Out of interest - Has anyone managed to get a mkv file play via DLNA/Twonky on a Samsung TV (new 'C' 5 series LCD).. grrrr...

  24. patters
    Pint

    Serviio

    Serviio is worth mentioning for being a very competent completely free DLNA server. It's currently the only non-commercial thing that really works for Sony Bluray players for instance.

    1. Craig Chambers

      Just Serviio?

      Hmm, I think perhaps your experience is limited, but then how much time do any of us have?

      miniDLNA is open source, and definitely non-commercial and it works with Sony Blu-ray players.

  25. Tony Jarvie
    WTF?

    Nice....6 months ago!

    You say that "only this month, LG announced that its debut Windows Phone 7 handset, the Optimus 7, will support DLNA-streamed playback." Well, that's nice, but you make it sound like something new.

    I'm sitting here with my Sony Ericsson Vivaz (yes, I wish I'd got an X10, but it was too expensive then - my Vivaz was free) and if you go into apps, Media serv. then you see the DLNA server already installed on my phone out of the box.

    Since the Vivaz is a Symbian device, I assume that it's on, or at least available to, many Nokia handsets too.

    1. David Beck
      Thumb Up

      All of the E Series have both client and server

      As the title says all of the E Series Symbian handsets have both client and server DLNA apps installed at delivery. Mind you the SIM free versions have SIP services integrated into "Contacts" at delivery too, so no idea if these features make it to the subsidised versions.

      I have had a DLNA setup since 2005 and have generally had few problems except for format support. I agree that the client vendors could be a bit more forthcoming about what formats are actually supported. Currently I'm using a few cheap ZyXel clients and Buffalo NAS to play my DVDs, ripped to XviD. Everything is Ethernet, no wifi, wifi never worked.

  26. a_mu
    Thumb Down

    Sony Dont make me laugh

    DLNA,

    the don't actualy specify the minimum set of formats that must be supported.

    so you can have a DLNA player that is complient, and a client that is complient, but don't have a common protocole they can use.

    Look at Sony TV's, they don;t support anything apart from their own formats,

    and even if you do get audio working, then video is another game.

    1. patters
      Alert

      It's not that bad.

      The minimum DLNA formats a device must support to be approved is specified though. It's hardly all that useful admittedly since it's pretty much just JPG, MP3 and MPEG2 video. However, you'd be surprised how many formats devices do support when they are officially 'qualified' by DLNA to support a much smaller subset.

      Sony TVs for instance don't do DivX, but they will play H.264 in an MPEGTS container, meaning many MKVs can simply be remuxed on the fly by DLNA servers such as PS3MS or Serviio. I do this on a 7 year old P4 with no significant CPU burden. What's irritating is picky renderers like the 2009 Sony Bravia's which only like certain resolutions of H.264 streams. The 2010 Sony bluray players are far less fussy though, and support MKV with subs and alternate audio tracks, DivX and more.

    2. Craig Chambers
      Thumb Down

      Some misinformation there

      Wow, that's a whole lot of misinformation in just one post!

      1) DLNA certification *does* require minimum format support

      -- I'm not for a minute stating that DLNA certification works as it should, but your statement is wrong.

      2) Sony TVs do not only support their own formats.

      I own two Sony TVs, both of which support over DLNA...

      PCM - also known as WAV - not owned by Sony

      MP3 - Not owned by Sony

      JPEG - Not owned by Sony

      MPEG2 - not owned by Sony

      AVCHD* - specified by, but not (AFAIK) owned by Sony

      * - AVCHD == MPEG2-TS container (not owned by Sony); H264 video (not owned by Sony); AC3 audio (not owned by Sony)

      -- And here I will state that the formats that they support over DLNA are the ones that their other devices use, but they are *not* Sony's own formats. I think it can be agreed that the above list is more than the minimal number of formats needed to get DLNA certification.

      The information is available on their website:

      http://support.sony-europe.com/tutorials/tvhc/dlna/dlna.aspx?site=odw_en_GB&m=KDL-37ex403

      I hasten to add that I do not work for Sony, I think that DLNA is in a mess as far as end users are concerned and I agree that Sony's support for formats over DLNA could be a lot better - especially as I have previously mentioned given that they support formats via USB that they do not support via DLNA.

  27. ElNumbre
    Thumb Down

    Just doesn't work...

    As a fairly competant technical bod, I can get most things working after a bit of tinkering, but still can't get it working properly/reliably. I've been looking for a long time to be able to stream from my Linux file server to my Xbox360. TVersity works OK, but you need a decent Windows machine to run it on to do transcoding in real-time for the various devices that only support formats a,b,f and h, but not c,d, or e that your video's are in.

    There doesn't appear to be a decent & reliable linux DLNA/UPNP server, unless someone can suggest here. Mediatomb runs OK, but doesn't seem to handle large media playlists well, nor show up on the Xbox. Twonky isn't well documented in Linux, and seems to be unstable, crashing after a short amount of time.

    If you can get them to show up, MP3's & WMAs are OK on the 360, but forget ogg/flac et al. XBMC, Boxee & MythTV seem to act as UPNP clients quite well, but if I'm having to have a media-pc by my telly, I'm as well ensuring compatibility by accessing the media files from the local disk, or streaming them from file shares on the network using SAMBA than I am relying on UPNP to do the job. Promises so much, delivers very very little. In fact, I've resorted to sneakernet before now when I've wanted to get a film playing, because its easier to copy it onto a USB stick than it is to trust that UPNP/DLNA will do its job.

    1. kingosticks

      Try Playstation Media Server

      I'm starting to sound like a broken record. But give it a go, I use it on my Linux machine to stream to both PS3 and XBOX.

    2. patters

      bad choice of renderer

      The 360 is a pretty bad media player. It has extremely limited format support, heavily biased on Windows Media formats naturally, and it's not actually DLNA compliant - only uPnP. Any server that does support it usually has had to implement specific hacky workarounds.

    3. Craig Chambers

      miniDLNA?

      If you can manage without transcoding then miniDLNA is worth a shot. It's available from Sourceforge either as source or precompiled binaries. I'm not sure on the 360 support though.

  28. hexx

    ps3 media server on mac

    is the way to go. i run it on late 09 13" macbook pro - no problems at all - just make sure to download snow leo edition. it transcodes everything on the fly so no problems with 'exotic' formats

  29. MnM
    Paris Hilton

    UPnP AV works for music

    No need for DLNA at all for music. UPnP AV is attracting a following in mid/high-end hi-fi, which is remarkable. The video market isn't quite so diverse - I don't know of any good, independent screen makers who can talk down this DLNA crap. I saw encryption mentioned as something DLNA supports - presumably that's somehow the main attraction.

    Meanwhile I don't get the point of DLNA for video. Anyone who wants to serve a video collection will rip their DVDs/BluRays, or download them for ease. They'll get a NAS, install UPnP AV server software on it, and get the screens they want because decoder boxes now will fit behind an LCD screen. Most things have HDMI ports so can plug straight into TVs. Who does DLNA serve? It's for neither geek nor pleb.

  30. copsewood
    Linux

    I run MiniDLNA to Bravia

    http://sourceforge.net/projects/minidlna/ . This server works most of the time with a limited range of media formats. It took a bit of hacking to get it installed and working on Ubuntu (doesn't have an Ubuntu package and had to hack init.d scripts and a cronjob to restart it if that fails).

    In practice the main issue is having to convert Video prior to streaming to support the limited formats accepted on the Bravia TV (Mpeg2 works OK but uses lots of disk space). So might be OK for hackers, definitely not workable for those without computing skills. Works OK with photos and music, but I store these in .jpg and .mp3 formats.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Works ok for me

    Ancient PC in a cupboard with loads of storage, wired ethernet to router. PS3 is the playback device also wired to the router.

    Using TVersity (Mediatomb on linux worked fine for me also).

    For SD it will play XVID/DIVX, VOB, MPG etc all no problems

    For HD it will play anything in a M2TS (with ac3), MP4 (with aac)

    If you have a MKV, run it through MKV2VOB or TSMuxer (setting output format as M2TS) - no video transcoding so no loss of quality, DTS sound will be transcoded to AC3 unless you have a seperate DTS receiver then you can keep it.

    FLAC I believe doesn't work but I don't use it so neither here nor there for me.

    I think the key is to remux the files into a supported container in the first place. Letting the DLNA server do transcoding will result in playback issues somewhere down the line.

    Some useful tools are: TSMuxer, MKV2VOB, eac3to

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    RAAAAAAAAGE

    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.

    Cheers!

  33. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    DLNA is typical microsoft

    @Dapperman, no I blame DLNA. Several people have commented on videos that DO play directly off a USB stick, a share, etc, but *not* over DLNA. This is not people trying to play like 1080p videos on some old box, this is the fail of DLNA falling right on it's ass if the file isn't in just a handful of formats, instead of doing what a server should do and serve.

    "I have a DLNA setup with a netgear stora + some chinese hd player over a network setup. It also did not play my mkv files, even though it supported them. Renamed the files to .avi and they play fine- bizarre fix, but it worked for me :)"

    This sums up the fail of DLNA -- what SHOULD happen is, the server serves up the file. *IF* the player can't handle it, it can request some kind of transcode from the server if the server supports it.

    The reason this works the way it does is basically Microsoft -- this is just another system where they wanted to make it handle Microsoft's formats and only Microsoft's formats. What better way to do that then hardcode a list of just a few containers and codecs into the specifications? What a fail. Of course, you have hit on the solution too -- if I were going to set up a DLNA server, I think I would hack it up to lie and claim ALL my videos are (foo)MPEG container, MPEG4 video, MP3 audio -- this bypasses the fail, I would guess once the fail is bypased the video file is just thrown directly at a player (and none of the file type info), so anything the box physically can play will play.

    Oh regarding the lack of support for .AVI -- AVI files put the header at the END of the file, so I think this makes it rather incompatible with streaming compared to the other file formats that ARE supported -- this may not be a direct fail of DLNA.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      DLNA sucks as well as the implementation by manufacturers

      I just read on the twonky forums that the issue with the tv players is down to 2 different media players being implemented (one for DLNA, one for USB). I have also tried renaming the files etc as well as fixing twonky settings to send mkv as mpeg etc and still no joy.

  34. Des Gibbons
    FAIL

    DLNA - move along, nothing to see here

    I have a media collection on a server I can share by NFS/SMB and DLNA.

    Unlike the members of the DLNA consortium I also have kids!

    There is no way in the DLNA world to segregate media to different users, now I really don't want my under 12 child watching 18 rated films.

    I'll stick to XBMC for now until there is any other hardware player that will work with pin protection for specified directories.

  35. defiler

    So glad it's not just me

    I spent weeks trying to faff about with a Hisense 1080p video player and MediaTomb because the SMB browsing was clunky (if I'm generous). It was soul-destroying trying to get the thing to work. And then it'd play music but not videos, or some videos but not others (despite the fact that it'd play the whole lot via SMB). Tossed the thing onto eBay, got an AppleTV off eBay almost by return, cracked XMBC onto it, and I now have 1080p playback on a nice little box that just plays everything I chuck at it. And I can retire my old XBox that's been doing exactly the same job only without HD support for years!

    I want DNLA to work, but whilst there are so many standards it's just unlikely. If they could make the formats used on DVDs and BluRays a mandatory part of the spec it'd be a start. Then they can spend years arguing over the containers...

  36. The Unexpected Bill
    Flame

    Just another unfulfilled promise...

    Why should something promising like DLNA fall short of the mark? I don't anticipate that every device can play every format ever devised, but why aren't all the common ones covered? Most of the decoder/processor chips that power these devices are off the shelf parts that support and provide reference firmware for many if not *all* of the popular formats to start with!

    It certainly should Just Work. Interestingly, it seems like the open source solutions are the ones that do, mainly because they appear to bend over backwards to deal with all the breakage in the proprietary solutions.

    I'd better stop there, otherwise I'll have to sit down and take my pills again...

  37. MuppetHater

    DLNA Sony and Buffallo NAS link station

    I havebeen using the above setup for 6 months now. It's running perfectly. I just encode al files to .MPG and they all play perfectly. Plus my 1TB NAS only cost about €130

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