One Quiet Media Server
I have always hankered after one store for all my media accessible to all my devices. I first of all tried this with a PC dedicated to media. It worked fine except I needed to leave it on all the time which was not very energy efficient and quite noisy. So I looked around for a Network Addressable Store with a media server.
I finally settled on the LaCie LaCinema HD 1 TByte. It’s small, quiet (no fan), connects directly to my TV via HDMI and sits on my LAN. So I can leave it on without disturbing anybody, yet it’s accessible to anyone in whatever room they are in.
The other feature I wanted in my network media server was for it to be UPnP DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) compatible. The main reason for this was most if not all media players can recognise a UPnP/ DLNA server on the network. Thus any media player device on my network should be able to fetch media from the server whether it be music, video or photos.
Including DLNA in the specification brought a surprise benefit – media shifting. This means that one device can take media from another device and play it on a third device. My mobile phone can take media off my laptop and play it on my TV (via the LaCinema). This feature depends on the software so for instance Windows Media Player 11 cannot send the media to another device but Twonky software can.
Being able to store all my media on my home network and shift it around to any player is wonderful, but today everybody wants to be able to stream their media from the Internet as well. Thus we have services like Spotify to stream music, YouTube for videos and Flickr or Picassa for Photos (plus many other services).
The PCs and my smartphone on my home network all have access to the internet and can stream whatever service I like. The beauty of DLNA is that I can use a PC or my smartphone to stream from the internet but send it to any other DLNA device for playing. This feature depends on the software so for instance Windows Media Player 11 cannot pass the stream onto another device but Twonky software can.
So here is my media shifting setup:
|LG TV via LaCie LaCinema HD||Twonky Server||D, i|
|Revo Blick Radio Station WiFi Radio||Revo – Audio only||P, i|
|O2 Joggler||O2||P, I|
|Windows XP PC||Twonky Manager||D, I|
|Windows Vista Laptop||Windows Media Player 11||D, i|
|HTC Desire Android smart phone||Twonky Mobile||D, I|
|WD MyBookWorld (blue ring) NAS||none|
|Kodak WiFi Picture Frame||Framechannel||i|
|Humax Freesat||BBC iPlayer – ITVPlayer soon||i|
D = DLNA compatible so can play from any server and send to any DLNA player
d = DLNA compatible can play from any server and receive via a third device but cannot send to another DLNA player
P = although not DLNA compatible will nevertheless play from any UPnP server.
I = internet streaming to another device
i = internet streaming only to itself
My possible next steps
Now that I have experimented with DLNA I am ready to upgrade my media players. I should be able to upgrade to a decent stereo music player that is DLNA compliant
There were some DLNA Photo Frames but they don’t seem to be available anymore.
Some of the new smartphones come DLNA enable such as HTC Desire HD
Windows Vista (Home edn)
- Windows Media Player will only recognise the LaCie if I first use the LaCie Network Assistant to mount the drive it will then appear as PVConnect on LaCinima_HD
- Windows Explorer recognises the the LaCie as a network media device but not as a Network Addressable Storage. I can only access the folders on the LaCie through the LaCie Network Assistant.
- Windows Media Player doesn’t recognise the LaCie even if the LaCie Network Assistant has mounted the drive
- Windows Explorer recognises the LaCie as a network media device
At present I am having a problem playing music from the LaCinema on my mobile. Play stops abruptly part the way through the track. I’m still working this one through with LaCie and Twonky.