Product Review – TwonkyBeam (beta version)

TwonkyMedia have capitalised on their UPnP AV / DLNA expertise and developed a browser helper object that can play user-selected music, pictures and video from a Web site that you are browsing on to a DLNA-enabled media renderer device “there and then”.

What is TwonkyBeam

TwonkyBeam is a browser helper object which allows you to “push” media found on a Web page to your UPnP AV-enabled media device(s). This can come in handy with YouTube videos, Facebook or Flickr photos, last.fm music or similar sites where you may want to have the media on devices other than your PC’s screen or your laptop’s tinny speakers.

At the moment, the program has been written to work with Windows and Internet Explorer, but will be ported to other desktop Web-viewing environments.

How does it work

Once the software is installed, there is a window that lists all compatible media on the Website and you select which media you want to use. As you select the different media, the media file’s URL is highlighted in the main Web page. In that same window, there is a list of UPnP AV-enabled media players on your network that accept “push” content.

The user identifies the media player that they want to push the media to and selects the media to be viewed in the media list. Then, to show the image, they press the “play” button in that window above the media player list.

On the other hand, the user can right-click on the link and select “TwonkyBeam to” as a way of putting the media on to the DLNA device.

Limitations with certain Websites

At the moment, the current version that is available is a “rough diamond” beta version. In some ways, the program doesn’t provide full access to photo albums that are broken in to groups of, say, 20. This may limit its usefulness with large Facebook photo albums or Flickr photostreams, which is what I have often used the program with when testing it against the “TwonkyMedia Manage UPnP AV Media Renderer”. Nor does it provide access to embedded media clips like most of YouTube’s pages or video clips that are set up in news articles, blogs and social-networking sites. These are the ones where there are playback controls integrated in to the site’s user interface and you can typically see the video in the Web page.

Web developers may have to provide an “all images” view as an option for photo albums or write a “link” URL for video clips that are ordinarily embedded to work around the limitation. The “link” URL could be part of the article’s copy or as a separate link under the embedded video.

Development ideas

One way of improving this program would be for Websites to support media XML files that describe the primary media assets. This would include collections that are broken up in to paginated groups like most Web photo albums.

Similarly, there could be support for handling Flash-embedded videos that are common to YouTube sites and most Web sites that include video material. This could be looked at through the development of applets that “click on” to TwonkyBeam and similar programs and expose the video clips to these programs.

Conclusion

This program can work as a “quick and easy” way to get media that is in a Web site up on to the large screen or better speakers of a DLNA-connected TV or stereo system. It could, in some ways, legitimise the need for one of the Sony or Samsung DLNA-enabled flatscreen TVs in the office or conference room.

The review will be updated whenever the beta version of this program is “polished up” and ready for full release.

Send to Kindle

Leave a Reply

*