Guide to DLNA

Guide to DLNA
What is DLNA - and what can it do for you?

13 Feb 2012 | Rasmus Larsen |

You have probably already heard of DLNA, and maybe used it before. It goes by many names such as AllShare (Samsung), SmartShare (LG), etc. But what is DLNA exactly and what can it do for you?

In this quick guide we take a look at the DLNA technology and tell you how to share video, music and images from a PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone onto a TV screen. Share your tips on DLNA devices at the bottom.

What is DLNA?

DLNA has been around for some years and in the last 2-3 years it has found a place in most TVs. DLNA allows you to stream media content between devices connected to the same home network, without having to store the content on both devices.

A few examples of how you can share content
  • From a PC/MAC to a TV
  • From a NAS to a tablet screen
  • From a smartphone to a music system


    DLNA at home


    The possibilities are endless as long as both devices support DLNA. Many do today. Imagine you want to share all of your vacation photos from your PC and show them to your friends on the living room TV. Or imagine that you have bought the complete Friends season box and want to watch the shows on the bedroom TV. This is possible with DLNA and we will help you get started.

    DLNA is an abbreviation of Digital Living Network Alliance and is widely supported by all TV manufacturers but it is often called something else.

    Here are the most common names:
  • DLNA
  • AllShare (Samsung)
  • SmartShare (LG)
  • Simple Share (Philips)
  • AirPlay (Apple’s version that is not really DLNA since it is a push-solution rather than a pull-solution)

    With DLNA you can stream your videos, music and to the TV from other devices
    With DLNA you can stream your videos, music and to the TV from other devices


    Most new TVs come with DLNA. If you are unsure check the manufacturer’s web site. If you have a TV without DLNA you can buy streaming box solutions such as those from Western Digital or Popcorn Hour. The external solutions often have better codec support.

    Getting started with DLNA

    Before you start you need to know that there are two kinds of DLNA devices; a client and a server. The server transmits content and the client receives. PCs, Macs, NAS drives, tablets and smartphones can all act as servers. TVs act as clients. If you want to transmit video from a server you therefore need server DLNA software on that device.

    DLNA is integrated in some network hard drives (NAS) that can store all your music, video and images
    DLNA is integrated in some network hard drives (NAS) that can store all your music, video and images


    Below you can find a guide on how to set up the server. Please keep in mind that both devices need to be connected to the same home network router.
    1. DLNA software: You need DLNA software on any device; some DLNA apps are free, others can be bought. A list is provided below.
    2. Install: Find your preferred DLNA software and install it on your PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone. DLNA server software is pre-installed on some NAS products.
    3. Share content: When the DLNA app is installed you need to navigate to the sharing tab and select which movies, music tracks and images you want other devices to be able to see.
    4. Content onto TV: The first time you enter the DLNA section on your TV you need to search for the DLNA server software running on the other devices. Either navigate to the Smart TV interface or press the dedicated DLNA/sharing button on the remote. If you cannot find the DLNA server try another DLNA software on the server device. Not every DLNA app is supported by every DLNA-enabled TV.
    5. Enjoy: You are ready. Select what you want to watch or listen to, and enjoy.

    Here is a list of popular DLNA server apps for PCs and Macs:
  • Twonky
  • TVersity
  • PS3 Media Player
  • Plex

    Here are some popular DLNA apps for Apple iOS and Google Android tablets and smartphones:
  • Media: connect (iOS)
  • UPnPlay (Android)
  • Twonky (Android)
  • Plex (iOS & Android)
  • AirPlayer (iOS)

    Limitations

    DLNA is supported by most electronics manufacturers but it is not hassle-free.

    Here are some of the typical problems that you might encounter:
  • Codecs: There is a long list of different video codecs, including avi, mpeg2, mpeg4, wmv, DivX, etc. Not all codecs are supported and it varies from one TV to another.
  • Freezing: A wireless network connection can cause your DLNA connection to freeze at times. So if you encounter freezing issues try to connect your DLNA-enabled TV to the router by Ethernet cable.
  • HD support: Movies in 1080p can be a mouthful in some systems and on some devices.
  • Fragmented: Open standards are great but also fragmented. Because DLNA is “open” manufacturers use different names, different implementations and support different codecs. It is a mess at times so try to find the DLNA server software best suited for your TV brand. LG TVs like Plex, Samsung TVs like their own software, PS3 owners can use PS3 Media Server etc.

    Enjoy.

    Share your advice on DLNA setups and products in the comment box below. Do you use DLNA at home and what DLNA solution do you use?



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