Why DLNA?

Have you ever asked one of these questions:

  • How can I watch my favorite Internet show on my television?
  • How can I watch or listen to my favorite podcasts on my television or through my stereo?
  • How can I listen to the music library on my computer through my stereo?
  • How can I display a slideshow of the pictures on my computer on my television?

If you have and you own an XBox, PS3, or a recently produced television or bluray player, then the answer to all of these questions is DLNA.  You may have read about DLNA support as one of the features of your bluray player or other device, but most people don’t know what it is or why they would want it.  For most people it is probably just part of the alphabet soup of acronymns on the box that your shiny new device came in, but it is well worth your time learning what it can do, because it is the way of the future.

Ever since YouTube popularized video streaming on the Internet, tech geeks have been longing for the day when they could “cut the cord” connecting them to their cable TV service and watch all of their programming via the Internet.  Since then, the advent of Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services have made cord cutting a viable option for many people, but what has remained elusive is that all in one solution for how to watch all of your content on your home theater, instead of on your computer screen.  While there are many specific services, like Netflix and Hulu, available as applications on televisions, bluray players, and game consoles, the problem is that you are limited to only those sources for which you have an application.  For instance, many people enjoy watching video podcasts such as those on the TWiT Network, but your television or other device may not support downloading podcasts.  Also, there are many shows available in streaming format, such as those on Crunchyroll and Blip.tv, for which you are not likely to have an application on your device.  The Apple TV, supports podcasts and iTunes, but not much else.  The Roku box has the widest selection of content, but it is still limited to what it officially supports.  If you find a new show you like, it may not be available.

Until recently, the only “one size fits all” solution was to set up an HTPC, Home Theater PC.  The problem with this solution is that its kind of expensive, and the less space you want to take up in your living room, the more expensive it is.  This is definitely a bigger purchase than that Roku box, which runs less than $100, but then again, wouldn’t it be better if you did not have to buy anything?  Wouldn’t it be better if what you have in your home theater will already allow you to watch all of your content in one comfortable place?

Well, good news!  DLNA is the solution.  DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) is a feature of many newer home entertainment devices that allows the streaming of media from one device to another.  What makes it so powerful is that it is a cross-company standard.  You don’t have to buy all of your equipment from the same brand for them to be able to share with each other.  The most important use for this is the ability to stream media from your computer to your television, phone, or tablet.  This is the key, because your computer is the only device in your house that can consume all forms of internet media, plus it is likely the repository for any digital media you own.