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DLNA Technology Explained

DLNA Technology Explained

You might have heard about it, but here is how DLNA technology can actually be used in the real world. It can be used to stream media files over a network to a compatible display or a stereo system. Go through this Techspirited article to know more about DLNA technology.
Anand Karwa
What is DLNA?
Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) is a non-profit organization set up by Sony in 2003. It consists of various organizations working together for supporting and developing a technology standard by which various electronics devices can share content with each other over a digital network (wired or wireless).

DLNA is also a standard which allows various devices from different manufacturers to share pictures, videos, and music, over a common network. These days, the word DLNA has become synonymous to wireless streaming of content over a home network. Here are some FAQs about DLNA.

Is my device DLNA certified?
There are hundreds of millions of DLNA-certified devices in the market currently. So, if you bought your device recently, then there is a very high probability for it to be DLNA certified. If you see a DLNA logo on the device packaging, or if your device shows up in the DLNA product search, then your device supports DLNA technology.


How does it work?
Now, let's discuss how media streaming is done between DLNA-certified devices. The first and foremost requirement is that the devices, which need to share media among themselves, should be in the same network. DLNA technology employs the use of Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), and supports 3 types of devices: Home Network Devices, Mobile Handheld Devices, and Home Infrastructure Devices.

Home Network Devices and Mobile Handheld Devices consist of the following devices and their mobile counterparts.
  • Digital Media Server (DMS): It consists of devices which can store media files on them. For e.g., Network-attached storage (NAS), hard drives, mobile phones, tablets, etc.
  • Digital Media Controller (DMC): The DMC instructs the digital media renderer to render the content for playback, after finding it on DMS such as smartphones and tablets. DLNA-enabled cameras can also act as digital media controllers.
  • Digital Media Player (DMP): It just plays the content. Smart TVs, displays, home stereos, etc., can act as digital media players.
  • Digital Media Renderer (DMR): It is the digital media renderer which does the actual task of decoding and passing on the rendered content to the DMP for playback. DMR can also act as a DMP. Televisions and audio/video receivers fall under the category of DMR.
Home infrastructure devices, as the name suggests, act as a bridge between home network devices and mobile handheld devices. If required, they also convert and make media files compatible with home network devices, and mobile handheld devices.


How to use DLNA technology?
In order to stream media files on your TV, you need to have a DMS, DMC, DMP, and DMR. The good news is, if you have bought your DLNA TV and smartphone (iPhone excluded) recently, then all you need is a digital media server. And guess what? You already have a server in your home. You can use Plex, TVersity, Twonky, and many other software to turn your home computer into a DMS.

If you are using Plex on computer, then also install its smartphone app on your mobile phone. Now, connect these devices to your home network, and you should be able to stream any movie/music you want to your TV, using your smartphone.

Sometimes, unsupported file formats and DRM (Digital rights management)-protected content will cause hindrance in seamless media playback, but you can deal with them by processing your content with other third-party software.


Widely known issues with DLNA
  • Unsupported file format: You cannot stream any file on your video player if the renderer cannot decode it. In many cases, it is the TV which does the task of rendering and playback. So, always buy a TV which supports a large variety of popular media file formats.
  • High bandwidth requirement: You can't stream a high-definition movie properly when someone is playing an online/LAN multiplayer game in your home network. It is advised to buy a router supporting WLAN 802.11n or 802.11ac standard, if you plan on streaming HD/Full HD content on your home network.
  • Cannot play DRM-protected content: You cannot play DRM-protected media on your DLNA player. To resolve this issue, a new technology standard―DLNA Premium Video (DLNAPV)―has been developed by Microsoft, Sony, and other manufacturers. No DLNAPV device has been released till date, and the problem still remains unresolved.
Many new standard have evolved since the introduction of DLNA. Apple's AirPlay is one example. It lets you stream content within Apple devices only. There are manufacturer-specific versions of DLNA too. Examples include LG Smart Share, Samsung AllShare, Philips SimplyShare, etc. Now, go ahead and try to steam a video to your DLNA-certified TV. Let me know how your experience was.