DLNA and why it matters

Consumer Reports News: June 17, 2011 10:50 AM

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You may have noticed that in some of our latest Ratings, such as those for HDTVs and Blu-ray players (available to subscribers), we're starting to call out a feature called DLNA, short for Digital Living Network Alliance. Why do we feel this is important?

Because DLNA promised to address a task that's not always as easy as it should be: accessing content located on one device and playing it on another.

DLNA technology isn't a single standard; rather, it's a set of guidelines to help manufacturers make products that work together across a home network, like the one you've probably set up to share your broadband connection. Because these devices can communicate with each other, the content you own—digital music, video, and photos—can be shared by all devices on the network, regardless of where it physically resides.

To use DLNA, all you need are DLNA-compliant products and either a wired or wireless network. When you get a new DLNA-based device, you simply connect it to your home network, and it will be "discovered" and added to the network. (DLNA supports the UPnP, or Universal Plug and Play networking protocols.) Some devices may come with software that has to be installed on your computer

DLNA promises to make life easier for those of us who now live in "connected" homes. As an example, most of us now take photos with a digital camera or cell phone, and then store or back up the images in a folder on a computer. But our preference is to view them on a large-screen TV. If both your TV and PC are DLNA-compliant, you'll be able to locate the photos on your PC, click an onscreen icon, and display them on your TV. According to the DLNA website, there are now more than 9,000 certified TVs, Blu-ray players, DVRs, PCs, mobile phones, printers, and other products.

If you're currently using DLNA, let us know what devices are connected, and how easy it was to add them to your network. We expect to see even more DLNA-certified products in the future, so we'd like to know what you think about this new feature.

DLNA: How It Works
Universal Plug and Play: For Consumers

James K. Willcox

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