DLNA

Using An Old Non MSFT Certified Legacy DMR with W8 Device Charm

 

My last post detailed the process to add Microsoft non certified devices to the list of supported “Play To” devices in Windows 8 Modern UI Start Screen Apps so that they appeared in the Charms/Devices menu. Once again, if you experiment with this, you will need to verify that your device is a DMR (digital media renderer) that works from the classic desktop explorer/libraries interface by right clicking an asset and verifying Play To appears and that you can successfully send the media to the device).

I already knew my circa 2009 Samsung LN52B750 series TV was not the greatest Play To client (which is why I have been using the WDTV LIVE Hub) but I wanted to enable it to see what kind of results I would get. The LNB Samsung TV series is neither certified by the DLNA.org folks or by Microsoft (just as my Sonos speakers are not certified by either organization).

In DLNA years, 2009 is ancient, and in TV cycle years, prehistoric. Samsung stops issuing firmware updates after 9-12 months so there was really not much hope of improving the DLNA experience after that time. Aggravating, but true. So for most people, the iffy DLNA experience (due to codec and transcoding support) the Microsoft decision to not show these uncertified devices is justified. It would be a support nightmare. But, if you are a geek and accustomed to tinkering with the registry, etc., once again, enabling these devices let you experiment.

Again, this is for geek enthusiasts only and unsupported. Backup your registry and the subkey before you begin. Proceed at your own risk.

Note: I performed this exercise on my Surface Pro and Surface RT with success.

To add the TV to the whitelist, once again, from the Network window, I right clicked the media icon for the TV and accessed the properties.

samsung

Since the DeviceShims registry already listed Samsung Electronics,all I needed to do was add the subkey for Samsung DTV DMR and the 32 bit dword IsLegacyDMR and set the hex value to 1. I did have to take ownership of the Samsung Electronics key and give local users full control in order to perform this modification.

Next step was to reboot.

Concurrent with my experimentation with non MSFT certified DLNA DMR’s, I also was looking to be able to play MKV files and had downloaded the trial of Cyberlink’s Power DVD Mobile from the Windows 8 App Store. (I’ll have more to say about this app soon, but I had a WOW experience; it’s one awesome program).

I opened  my Avatar MKV and it played beautifully on the Surface Pro. Now the moment of truth, could I send to my Samsung TV through the Devices menu. You can see in the screen capture below that both my TV and WDTVLiveHub are available from the Devices charm.

cyberlink1

The answer is a big YES. My Surface Pro displayed the following:

cyberlink2

 

And the output to the TV worked perfectly.

on-tv

The picture looked great and there was no lagging/glitching (and sound was in sync – I run audio from the TV out to a home theater system via Digital Optical SPDIF). I won’t say it was a good as watching the original Blue Ray, but close. This same TV has had trouble with mp4’s using Play To where it doesn’t correctly handle the aspect ratio at times. And when I set still digital images via the Device charm, they displayed beautifully.

Using MSFT Uncertified Play To DLNA devices with W8 Modern UI Apps

 

Today I’m one step closer to giving up my iPad as my Surface RT can now perform one more task on my must have list. Full DLNA Play To sharing from the Charms bar/Devices for non Microsoft certified devices was a biggie on my list.

A little history: In Windows 7, Microsoft introduced Play To which used the DLNA spec to let me send media from my computer to a DLNA DMR. I had so so results with my 2009 Samsung TV due to poor transcoding support, but great results with my WDTV Live Hub and my SONOS speakers. The so-so experience on my TV and the not wonderful experience on other device by many many people caused Microsoft to rethink their strategy for Windows 8 and come up with their own certification process for devices to “insure” a good experience. This translated into a restrictive policy for Windows 8 Start Screen/Metro/Modern UI Apps where only MS certified devices would appear in an applications Settings: Devices menu. What this meant for me was that I could no longer send music to my SONOS speakers from these Apps, although I could do so from the classic Desktop-Explorer-Libraries view. I certainly was annoyed and disappointed. To me, this meant that Microsoft was going down the closed eco-system route and emulating Apple. DLNA is an open standard, and there are tiered requirements. MS was seeking to bulletproof the experience, but in the process left many of us hanging. I certainly wished for, and expressed my desire for, an advanced user setting to “Show non MS certified devices”, and I still think that is the necessary change that Microsoft needs to make.

Others in the geek world wanted a way to use their non certified devices and Rafael Rivera came up with a way for x86 based Windows 8 computers to do just this. He didn’t find a way to do this on Surface RT. And that’s where I most wanted this functionality. Note: The information that follows applies to Windows 8/Windows RT and I have tested on my Surface RT, my Surface Pro, and a Windows 8 desktop.

So I started looking at the registry. What I am about to describe works on both my Surface and Surface RT tablets but it is the only way so far to enable this functionality on RT.

Before you start,verify that your device supports Play To in the classic desktop/explorer/libraries interface. To do this, right click a supported media file in a classic library and verify the Play To menu appears and that you can successfully send to your target device and it plays the media you selected.

There is an interesting key in the registry:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Device Association Framework\InboxProviders

\DAFUPnPProvider\Plugins\DlnaMetadataProvider\DeviceShims]

When expanded, it shows devices from just a few companies.

 

providers

Why only five vendors?

If you export the DeviceShims reg key, things get interesting. For example, specific vendors and specific devices have entries, such as:

 

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Device Association Framework\InboxProviders

\DAFUPnPProvider\Plugins\DlnaMetadataProvider\DeviceShims\ONKYO]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Device Association Framework\InboxProviders

\DAFUPnPProvider\Plugins\DlnaMetadataProvider\DeviceShims\ONKYO\HT-R690]
"IsLegacyDMR"=dword:00000001

 

Do you find the IsLegacyDMR an interesting dword? If you look at the entire exported key, it is one of those AHA moments.

What follow is for geeks only. Use at your own risk. Back up your registry and back up the specific key. And use what follows entirely at your own risk. Obviously you will want to at least use the touch/type keyboard for this process.

First, the DeviceShims key is “protected” and you will need to take ownership and give yourself full control.

1. Right click the DeviceShims key, then click Permissions.

2. Click the Advanced tab, then click the Change hyperlink next to the Owner. You can use your Microsoft account for this.

3. Apply

4. Give users (pcname\username) full control

5. Reboot

Second, you will need to determine the exact information on the device(s) you want to empower to use the Start Screen Play To functionality.

1. Go to the classic desktop and classic explorer

2. Find your device in the network list

3. Right click the device and select properties

4. You will need the Manufacturer and the Model, case sensitive. In the example below, the Manufacturer is Sonos, Inc. and the Model is Sonos Play:5

 

devprops

Third, You need to create the registry values for your device(s).

1. Create a new key under DeviceShims with the manufacturer (Sonos, Inc. in my example)

2. Under the just created key, create a new subkey for the model (Sonos Play:5 in my example).

3. Create a 32 bit dword IsLegacyDMR and set the HEX value to 1

 

If you export the key, the newly created value would look like

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Device Association Framework\InboxProviders\DAFUPnPProvider\Plugins\DlnaMetadataProvider\DeviceShims\Sonos, Inc.]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Device Association Framework\InboxProviders\DAFUPnPProvider\Plugins\DlnaMetadataProvider\DeviceShims\Sonos, Inc.\Sonos PLAY:5]
"IsLegacyDMR"=dword:00000001

 

4. Reboot

End result:

success

Here’s my Surface RT happily sending the output of the PRadio App (Pandora) to my Sonos.

OneShot App Automates & Organizes Screen Captures for W7 PlayTo

One of the great things about “community” is that you meet talented people virtually who come up with neat ways to enhance Windows features.

 

Jensigner has developed just such an add-on called OneShot which I see all kinds of interesting uses for, such as real time presentation work, education, and more. Basically this app takes screen captures of whatever is on your desktop and sends them to a folder named PlayTo, to enable you to quickly take advantage of a neat feature built into Windows 7. Open the folder, range select the images you’ve just captured and send to your PlayTo DLNA enabled TV.

 

To demo this, I opened my photo blog in IE9 and captured the desktop. Then, I opened the PlayTo folder and sent it to my DLNA enabled Samsung TV. Cool!

oneshot

WD TV Live Hub – A Home Entertainment-DLNA Love Story

I’ve never had a CE device that exceeded my expectations. Until now.  My Connected Home includes devices that enable me to stream media between devices on my network, but which also provoked frustration because of half implemented codec support and DLNA protocols. I thought I had true DLNA love back in July 2009 with a Samsung TV, but the lack of firmware updates for DLNA compatibility (such as support for WMA music) eventually caused me to realize it was just a summer romance. Samsung seems to abandon devices after 6 months or so, and concentrates on newer products.

Like many others, while I’d love a new DLNA certified Home Theater receiver DMR, the price range for these is currently $900+. And the Samsung TV is relatively new.

Enter the WD TV Live Hub. This >$200 little box does it all. Like many Home Theater enthusiasts looking for optimum solutions that provide Windows 7 Play To functionality, I’ve been frustrated and was not looking for an expensive solution. This is a very small box with gargantuan capabilities, including a 1TB hard drive to store your favorite media on.

wdliveproduct wd.box

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Why the Hoopla for the LG Smart TV Upgrader?

For the past few days, every tech site and blog seems to be overly excited about the announcement by LG about the LG Smart TV Upgrader they will be showing at CES 2011 (but likely not to be available until LATE 2011.  According to the specs, this is a DLNA device and some folks are getting excited by this.

Specifications:
Main CPU: BCM7615
DDR 384MB, 1GB Flash
LG Add-on Architecture + Web Browser
AC 100-240V, 50/60 Hz
Wi-Fi, Ethernet, DLNA (DMP)
USB: 1EA (USB mouse, external storage)
Input Devices
– Finger Touch RCU
Premium Content
LG Apps
Size: 11cm x 11cm

I just can’t get excited by this device. It’s just another closed system that features its own LG apps. And the press release mentions Premium Content, without stating if it is extra cost. And the price of this device has not been disclosed.  No info on supported codecs, either.

The DLNA functionality is minimal (it is NOT a digital media renderer/DMR) which means Windows 7 Play To will not work. (But hopefully Windows Media Player streaming will).

Hopefully another vendor will show something at CES that will be fully featured DLNA 1.5 with DMR support.

For any of you attending CES 2011, let me know what DLNA 1.5 DMR add-on devices you discover at the show in The Green Button DLNA forum.

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