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What is DLNA?

A DLNA Certification Makes it Easy to Add a Network Media Device

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DLNA certification logo

Look for the DLNA logo on a product to be sure that it will communicate easily with your whole home network.

Digital Living Network Alliance Registered Trademark (c) Digital Living Network Alliance
DLNA stands for Digital Living Network Alliance.

The DLNA sets standards and guidelines for home networking media devices. A device can receive a DLNA certification. This certification lets the consumer know that once connected to your home network, it will automatically communicate with other connected DLNA certified products.

DLNA certified devices can: find and play movies; send, display and/or upload photos, find, send, play and/or download music; and send and print photos.

The History of DLNA

In the early years of networking home entertainment, it was difficult and confusing to add a new device and get it to communicate with your computers and other network devices. You might have had to know IP addresses and add each device separately along with crossing your fingers for good luck. DLNA has changed all that.

The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) was started in 2003 when several manufacturers got together to create a standard so that all of their products were compatible in a home network. This meant that the products were compatible even if they were made by different manufacturers.

Different Certifications for Each Device's Role in Sharing Media

Products that are DLNA certified typically are recognized, with little or no setup, as soon as you connect them to your network. DLNA certification means that the device plays a role in your home network and that other DLNA products can communicate with it based on their own roles.

Some products store the media. Some products control the media and some products play the media. There is a certification for each of these roles.

Within each certification, there are DLNA guidelines for Ethernet and WiFi connectivity, for hardware requirements, for software or firmware requirements, for the user interface, for instructions to make the device networkable, and for displaying different formats of media files. "It's like a car's all point inspection," said Alan Messer, DLNA board member and Senior Director of Convergence Technologies and Standards for Samsung Electronics. "Each aspect must pass testing to get a DLNA certification."

Through testing and certification, consumers are assured that that they can connect DLNA certified products and be able to save, share, stream and show digital media. Images, music and video stored on one DLNA certified device -- a computer, network attached storage (NAS) drive or media server--will play on other DLNA certified devices -- TVs, AV receivers, and other computers on the network.

The DLNA certification is based on product types and categories. It makes more sense if you break it down. Your media lives (is stored) on a hard drive somewhere. The media must be accessible served up to be shown on other devices. The device where the media lives is the Digital Media Server. Another device plays the video, music and photos so you can watch them. This is the Digital Media Player.

Certification can either be built into the hardware or be part of a software application/program that is running on the device. This particularly relates to network attached storage (NAS) drives and computers.  Twonky, TVersity, and TV Mobili are popular software products that act as digital media servers and can be found by other DLNA devices.

Summary

There are really only two things to understand about DLNA certification. First, choose a DLNA certified component so you know that it will perform as part of your home network without complicated setup. And, when you understand each of the DLNA certifications, you will have a better comprehension on how a home network fits together.

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