DLNA

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.

Windows 7 Play To/DLNA Streams to iPhone/iPad

Yes, you read that correctly. The iPxxx devices don’t natively support DLNA functionality, which rules out using Windows 7 Play To”, so I decided to see what could be done, at least as a proof of concept, to try to get this working.

The secret sauce was finding an app called PlugPlayer and installing it on my iPhone and iPad and seeing my iPxx devices show up in the Network Window .

 

I was intrigued, and not expecting much success, used Windows Explorer, right clicked a music file and saw not only my TV and Sonos Players listed, but my iPhone (via PlugPlayer) as well.

playto-iphone

Then, the next task was finding which file formats would be supported.

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Windows 7 Play To/DLNA Streams to iPhone/iPad

Yes, you read that correctly. The iPxxx devices don’t natively support DLNA functionality, which rules out using Windows 7 Play To”, so I decided to see what could be done, at least as a proof of concept, to try to get this working.

The secret sauce was finding an app called PlugPlayer and installing it on my iPhone and iPad and seeing my iPxx devices show up in the Network Window .

playto-media-devices

I was intrigued, and not expecting much success, used Windows Explorer, right clicked a music file and saw not only my TV and Sonos Players listed, but my iPhone (via PlugPlayer) as well.

playto-iphone

Then, the next task was finding which file formats would be supported. 

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Sonos S5 Music Players, Connected, Converged, Fantastic

I’m not easily impressed, but my jaw is hanging open today after installing two Sonos S5 Music Players to cover my home with end to end music. I’ve used computers, Media Center Extenders and all kinds of hardware and software in the past to move music around my home, but I always had to cobble together pieces and use separate devices and controllers to get what I wanted.  What did I want? Well, everything imaginable. The list below is not in any particular order:

1. The ability to stream from ANY of my computers (using Play To or anything else) to more than one music player/renderer simultaneously.

2. To be able to control the volume above individually or together.

3. Play Pandora Radio and other Internet sourced digital music

4. Use existing/create new playlists

5. Use iPhones, iPads and  iPxxx whatever to control and manage the device as a remote control (including graphical menus).

6. Use the system as an alarm clock with choices to wake from alarm, music, Internet music, whatever

7. Wireless connectivity in my Living Room

8. A system that was upgradeable.

9. Quality sound

10. Expandability

I’m still stunned that I found a system that does ALL of the above. (And I’m betting I discover more features – I’ve only had a few hours experience with this all, so my exploration and discovery has only just begun).

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