UPnP AV / DLNA media controller software Archive

Australian Audio & AV Show 2013

IMG_1174This past weekend I had visited the Australian Audio & AV Show which was hosted at the Intercontinental Melbourne The Rialto hotel in Collins Street, Melbourne. This is one of the hotel-based hi-fi shows where, in addition to most if not all the banquet rooms at the hotel being used, at least two, if not three floors of guest-rooms are block-booked with the beds removed out of most, if not all of the rooms. Here, these rooms serve as demonstration rooms with the aesthetics and sound qualities comparable to most living rooms, music rooms or home theatres.

This show underscored particular audio and AV trends, especially the use of network-based digital audio setups. This is more so as the file-based “download-to-own” audio services and the subscription-driven “cyber jukeboxes” like Spotify mature and gain real traction. Of course, it wasn’t feasible to demonstrate the online services from the equipment involved due to the common situation where public-access wireless networks such as what exists at this hotel implement that browser-based authentication routine which doesn’t work with consumer electronics.

One concept that was underscored through this show is that all the good quality recording and playback equipment in the world can show up the poor recording or remastering techniques that can occur in the studio. It doesn’t matter whether the recording had been worked up to a 24 bit 192 kbz master file or turned out as a “new-cut” vinyl record or digital-remaster CD.

Preservation of Media and Technology Comfort Zones

Linn Sondek LP12

Linn Sondek LP12 – the 40-year-old turntable keeps on as a legend

There was an effort to preserve media and technology comfort zones with a few demonstration systems playing from vinyl or regular CDs and some of the systems in “full flight” were based on valve (tube) amplification. An example of this was McIntosh, an American hi-fi legend, showing one of their valve power amplifiers while some other companies even ran with amplifiers that implemented valve/solid-state hybrid construction.

One company even played a “new-cut” vinyl pressing of “Blood Sweat And Tears” which sounded so clear on their demonstration equipment. As well, the distributer for Harman and JBL had a setup which was based on a regular CD player playing through JBL floor-standing speakers and I had played Genesis’s “Many Too Many” off my CD copy of “And Then There Were Three” through this setup.

Yamaha and a few others even ran demonstration systems where a turntable, CD player and network audio player were connected to the system’s amplifier to show that these sources had an equal chance of yielding high-quality sound when fed good recordings no matter the medium. Similarly, Linn demonstrated their legendary Sondek LP12 turntable which was celebrating the 40th anniversary of this classic’s design and presented a record which was a compilation of choice cuts from their record library while they put the way forward with file-based digital audio with their DSM network media players.

Wirelessly-networked audio setups

I had watched a presentation by Cambridge Audio about the direction for wirelessly-networked audio setups and they mentioned that Bluetooth and Wi-Fi were on a level footing.

Arcam rBlink Bluetooth DAC adaptor

Arcam rBlink does a very good job of linking your Bluetooth phone to your stereo

There has been a message that, even though vinyl has been making its steady return, convenience-based AV technologies aren’t undermining the sound quality. This is similar to how I saw the cassette format “earn its stripes” and become respected through the late 70s and the early 80s, what with Dolby noise reduction, better tape formulations like chrome dioxide, Dolby HX recording-improvement technology along with those high-grade musicassettes issued through the mid 80s.

Pure Jongo T6 wireless speaker

Pure Jongo T6 wireless speaker playing from my phone

Here, the aptX codec was introduced in to Bluetooth A2DP setups to provide high-grade audio quality when you use Bluetooth headsets or speakers as I had noticed when I played “You And I” by Delegation from my Samsung Galaxy Note II through a pair of Aktimate Blue Bluetooth speakers and they yielded that punchy bass and clear treble.

The DLNA / UPnP AV technology had been highlighted by Cambridge Audio as enabling high-quality open-frame audio distribution over Wi-Fi and Ethernet home networks. This technology allowed equipment that was able to play 24-bit audio content to discover and play this content off a NAS or similar media server.

USB speakers with a laptop

USB-driven hi-fi speakers rais the bar for laptop sound and bring through audiophile quality

The idea of one-source multiple-speaker wireless audio setups is not perfect due to the use of packet-based technologies implemented with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. This typically requires the implementation of a “master device” which keeps all the devices in sync when it comes to what they are playing and Pure implemented this with one of their Jongo devices being considered a “master devices”. This network was simply served by an ordinary wireless router that served as an access point and DHCP server to cover that room where the speakers were shown. Their solution allowed for “party-streaming” from multiple speakers and  a pair of the same-model speakers to operate as a stereo pair for wider separation.  Dynaudio demonstrated a wireless speaker setup that worked on their own wireless-distribution technology which was primarily circuit-based rather than packet-based.

Stronger foothold for file-based audio distribution

This leads me to the fact that there is a stronger foothold in file-based audio distribution in the hi-fi space. In this show, a lot of companies were demonstrating music that was played either through a room-wide DLNA Home Media Network or a laptop that was connected to a USB digital-analogue converter.

The USB digital-analogue converters that were used in this show typically presented themselves to Macintosh OS X or Windows as another “sound card” according to USB Audio specifications. Some of these devices were components that were connected to existing amplifiers or were part of a control amplifier, integrated amplifier or powered speakers.

Netgear ReadyNAS

A NAS like this ReadyNAS or the ripping NAS nearby is as much a hi-fi component

On the other hand, the more popular method for file-based audio distribution was the UPnP AV / DLNA Home Media Network. A significant number of the rooms were running these networks that comprised of a NAS full of music and one or more components or systems capable of audio playback from a network, typically a Wi-Fi wireless network. A typical router served as the “glue” to hold each room’s network together.

With these setups, it was feasible to run content presented as 24-bit FLAC or similar files or regular PCM-format WAV files to allow the hi-fi equipment to perform at its best. Some of these networks used a heterogenous mix of devices with only the exhibitor’s brand being highly positioned.

Cocktail X30 music server

Cocktail X30 full-width music server and receiver

Cocktail X10 music server

Cocktail X10 music server which is a stereo system

I had also seen on show the Cocktail Audio X10 and X30 network media servers which are themselves capable of being the heart of a 3-piece music system or working with another sound system. I had previously covered the X10 on this site but the newly-previewed X30 full-width unit has more inputs, an FM radio tuner, and a highly-powerful amplifier with proper binding-post speaker connections. These units can be DLNA music servers for a home network or be capable of pulling up content on a network-attached storage this way,

Rise of Spotify and similar online services

There is the rise of the online service, especially Spotify which been perceived as the “online jukebox”. It still works on the three tiers with a free ad-based setup, an “unlimited” desktop-only setup as well as a premium setup with desktop and mobile ad-free listening. Some markets have a “mobile free” listening service but it will be rolled out to all of the markets. The mobile services provide content download to the local storage on the mobile device while the desktop service is primarily about streaming the content.

Naim NDS network audio player

Naim NDS network audio player

The Spotify Connect feature that was just launched is more about “passing” content playback directions to equipment that supports this service via the home network. This has been more about “freeing up” a smartphone or tablet that is the Spotify control surface to be able to be used for communications or game playing.

Denon DNP-F109 network audio player

Denon DNP-F109 network audio player

Similarly, Spotify is working with vehicle builders to provide an integrated experience for drivers. Ford’s AppSync variant is focused on the app in the mobile device doing the heavy lifting and the dashboard working as a remote control surface and AUX input.

High-quality lifestyle audio

A class of audio-playback equipment that tends to be forgotten about in the hi-fi sphere is “lifestyle audio” or “lifestyle-centric audio”, This represents the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speakers along with the CD receivers or network media receivers that are the hub of a three-piece music system. Traditional hi-fi enthusiasts find that if you don’t have the component-driven setup with individual pieces of equipment in separate boxes doing their job, you are not leading to good sound but the “lifestyle” equipment that was shown here was about equipment that can yield high-quality sound yet be in a compact enclosure that is still aesthetically pleasing.

As I said in my review of the Rotel RCX-1500 CD receiver, I touched on the music centres and casseivers (receivers with integrated cassette deck) of the late 1970s where mid-priced and high-end variants had the expectations of a good component-based hi-fi system in one piece. Then Bang & Olufsen kept the flag going with their Beocenter and Beosound products like the legendary Beocenter 7000 series through the 80s until the likes of Bose and Proton drew back this class of system as a high-quality “lifestyle” product.

Naim UnitiQute 2 on dressing table

The Naim Uniti!Qute 2 – a high-quality network-connected music system for that small room

A system that demonstrated this concept very well was a Naim UnitiQute 2 network media receiver that was connected to a pair of Totem DreamCatcher bookshelf speakers and presented on a dressing table in one of the hotel’s Club Junior Suite rooms. This conveyed to me an image of something that would fit in well in an elegant master bedroom or the kitchen where you show off your gourmet cooking skills.

Cyrus's latest CD receiver

Cyrus’s latest CD receiver

There has been an increased number of full-width slimline CD receivers which have Wi-Fi DLNA home-network connectivity including an advance-sample preview of Cyrus’s first CD receiver. This unit was demonstrated through a pair of floorstanding speakers which show up how flexible these systems were. Here, it could play CDs, receive FM or DAB+ broadcast radio, stream from a Bluetooth smartphone or pull in network or Internet hosted content with an integrated Wi-Fi module. Other examples included Arcam’s Solo Neo and Naim’s Uniti 2.

Arcam Solo Neo CD receiver

Arcam Solo Neo CD receiver

One lifestyle system, the Elipson Planet series, which had speakers shaped like spheres and a centre unit shaped like a cylinder implements the Bang & Olufsen icePower power-amplification technology for its power amplifiers. This system’s industrial design along with the use of B&O icePower technology could be seen as “Clayton’s” B&O music system – a B&O when you don’t have a B&O.

Elipson Planet music system

Elipson Planet music system – the B&O when you don’t have a B&O

These three-piece systems are being considered because of their relevance to the “downsized home”, which is becoming more real with baby-boomer couples moving to smaller homes as their children grow their feathers and fly the nest. Similarly, the look towards the minimalist interior design is underscoring the need for these systems as is the concept of some of these systems offering “primary-system” capability and quality in a package suited to a secondary music system.

At the same time, there has been an increased number of wireless speakers that work with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi wireless networks with Pure launching a good range of the “Jongo” speakers which are able to exploit a Wi-Fi segment as a self-sustaining synchronised multi-speaker network. Cambridge Audio also used this to launch a range of Bluetooth / Wi-Fi speakers that work with Spotify Connect.

Speaker technology

JBL speakers

These classic speaker designs still hang on in the hi-fi conscience

There were some manufacturers and distributors showing the traditional floor-standing speakers with Harman and VAF showing some that would be considered “furniture pieces”. The ones that Harman showed were a pair of JBLs that would be considered par for the course with a 1970s receiver and had the large horns for the tweeters while VAF presented a speaker with wallpaper on the outside and 50s-style spindle legs, calling it “Maximising Spousal Acceptance Factor”.

But many manufacturers were demonstrating small traditional-arrangement bookshelf speakers that could put up a very punchy sound. With these speakers, it could be easy to doubt whether they are working by themselves or whether people who are demonstrating them are using a subwoofer as part of the setup.

Aktimate bookshelf active speakers

Aktimate bookshelf active speakers do punch out the music

As well, there has been an increased number of active speakers which have integrated amplifiers. This class of speaker was being given ore thought in the hi-fi world and not just thought of as computer speakers, lifestyle speakers (B&O, Bose) or as PA speakers. This is even though at the early stages of hi-fi, audiophiles used public-address amplifiers that they tuned to drive their custom-built speakers.

One company used another of the Club Junior Suites to demonstrate a set of floor-standing active speakers which used two power amplifiers per cabinet and line-level crossovers, thus proving that you can have a decent-sounding hi-fi in full flight based around this technology. Another regular-sized hotel room was used to demonstrate the Aktimate speakers which are bookshelf speakers that have an integrated stereo amplifier

I also see this as providing for high-grade right-sized sound-reinforcement setups where you can create an all-active-speaker sound system around JBL EON PA speakers for a large room full of people or an outdoor setting while these hi-fi active speakers could satisfy a smaller room where extra sound quality comes in to play,

To the same extent, Linn improved on what Philips started on in the early 1990s by refining a high-quality digital speaker system fit for the 24-bit studio master recording. This system, known as the Exakt is set around a digital sound path to just before the actual speaker driver with the Exakt speakers implementing a digital crossover and one digital amplifier for each driver. This implements a proprietary “Exakt Link” from the controller which is the Klimax Exakt DSM to these speakers.

Headphones

There was a special section of this show dedicated to headphone technology and you may think that this is to be taken up by exotic audiophile headphones. But these headphones also shared the HeadZone space with headphones that are capable of delivering high-quality sound from your smartphone, tablet or laptop while you are on the train for a reasonable price.  This increased show space underscored the reality that the role of “cans” as part of our AV equipment is increasingly important with out portable entertainment gadgets rather than just as accessories.

As well Denon and Sennheiser used space in their banquet rooms to show off their headphones that suited most user needs. Oh yeah, I had compared a pair of the higher-grade UrbanRaver AH-D400s against the Urban Raver AH-D320 “cans” that I had reviewed and the ‘D400s had the stronger punch in the sound. Yet I still consider the D320s as the value option that still does justice to rock and pop.

Conclusion

Here, the Australian Audio And AV Show 2013 had exemplified that the digital audio that is hosted via a home network or the Internet is the way forward. This includes using a smartphone or tablet with a Bluetooth link to play music either to a wireless speaker or to a high-quality Bluetooth adaptor plugged in to your favourite hi-fi system’s digital or line input.

In some ways, you could even create a music system around top-notch equipment and speakers that is ready to play vinyl, CD and/or network-hosted media.

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Feature Article–DLNA Media Network Series: The three-box DLNA network model

Updated 16 October 2013

3-box DLNA setup with control point deviceThis is an advanced way of setting up a DLNA Home Media Network and requires a network media player to be able to be controlled by other devices on the same network.

It is a function integral to DLNA 1.5 compatible devices and is part of TwonkyMedia Manager (which I have reviewed here) since it started. Now it will be an integral part of Windows 7 where you can select “Play To” to have music playing on another device that you have specified. There will be many handheld terminals that have this functionality, either as part of the operating system or as add-on software and is considered an essential function for mobile devices and the new crop of Wi-Fi-based wireless network speakers, some of which have been reviewed on HomeNetworking01.info.

The open-frame alternative to Apple AirPlay which can handle pictures and video content as well as music

The three boxes in this DLNA media network

Three are three logical units in this equation

Media Server

This holds media files or references to media streams and is typically represented by Windows Media Player 11 or TwonkyMedia Server which is part of TwonkyMedia Manager which I have reviewed in this blog.

Also, in a PC-less solution, it can be a network-attached storage or music server device, which is become a very important trend as we move towards a highly-portable home network with a book-sized NAS holding our music, photos and video.

Media Control Point

This is primarily a software program or hardware device that can find material on any Media Servers on the home network and allow the user to “push” the content to any Media Render device on the network. Some of these programs such as most of the smartphone Media Control Point apps also have the ability to “push” device-local content to the Media Render device.

Examples of these include Twonky Manager, Windows Media Player with its “Play To” function, and Linn Kinsky for Windows; Twonky Mobile, PlugPlayer and Gizmoot for the iPhone or iPad; and Twonky Mobile and BubbleUPnP for Android devices. For that matter, this feature is also being considered as a desired for any highly-capable music player or similar application for the Android platform.

Media Renderer

Boston Acoustics MC-200Air wireless speaker whcih can be controlled by a DLNA control app

Boston Acoustics MC-200Air wireless speaker whcih can be controlled by a DLNA control app

The Media Renderer is similar to a UPnP-capable Media Player except that it can accept instructions via the home network to play particular media files or streams. Typically this setup is represented by three boxes but a device can have two or three of the functions built in to its housing.

An example of this is the TwonkyMedia Manager program or the PlugPlayer DLNA controller for the iPhone or any of the recent Nokia N-Series mobile phones. Here, the program has a built-in software media renderer function as well as a software media server function and control point.

Or you have most recent DLNA-capable AV equipment like the Denon CEOL Piccolo that allow you to choose the content to play using their control panel or remote control; or let you “push” content to them using a DLNA Media Control Point.

What can you do

Put the netbook, tablet or another computer to good use as a media controller

An idea that would appeal to many geeks and media enthusiasts is to load a program like TwonkyMedia Manager 1.2 or Linn Kinsky on to a netbook or subnotebook computer and use this computer as a remote media controller for the DLNA Home Media Network.

This could mean that you could bring up pictures and video on a DLNA-capable TV or electronic picture frame using this terminal. This would end up being much easier than finding the remote control for the TV and working through an unwieldy user interface.

As well, handheld devices like smartphones, mobile Internet devices or PDAs that are equipped with WiFi functionality can work as a remote control, whether natively (in the case of phones like most of the Nokia N-Series phones) or through one of many software programs available through their standard app stores Web channels.

Similarly, you could use your office PC to show merchandising videos / images on your DLNA-equipped TVs and picture frames in the shop’s public space rather than going around to each TV or picture frame to bring up the right merchandising material. Again, you could use the “Play To” function in Windows 7 or 8, or “Cast To Device” in Windows 10 for this purpose.

Use of AV network media adaptors for music or other audio content

Typically, an AV network media adaptor like the D-Link DSM-320 or the Zyxel DMA-1100P typically doesn’t have any form of display on it. Instead it requires the user to control it using the remote control while using the attached TV as its display. This wouldn’t equate very well if you intend to play music rather than show pictures or videos using the device. Here, these devices can be managed by having the music playlists pushed to them without need for the attached television to be on.

“Follow Me”, “Party Mode” and other advanced playback techniques

Some of the DLNA media controllers allow for advanced playback techniques where program material can be “pushed” to other Media Renderer devices from a particular point in the track. This can allow for “follow-me” playback where the content which was already playing on one device is played on another user-specified device with the content stopping at the previous device; or “party mode” where content is broadcast to a group of devices. The last mode may have problems due to the data-oriented network protocols not being able to work well in supporting synchronous playback from one source. Similarly, there could be other playback techniques like exhibiting different pictures from the same cluster on different screens.

Portable devices being part of the DLNA digital media network

Smartphone-based DLNA setupAnother application for this kind of operation is for a digital camera or mobile phone to “push” digital images held on that device to DLNA-compliant TV screens or picture frames. This would typically work well for “there-and-then” showing of pictures and videos taken with the device rather than downloading of pictures to a network-attached storage device.

Similarly a mobile phone or MP3 player could “push” digital music held therein to better speakers via a digital media adaptor. To the same extent, these devices are also being used as a key interaction terminal for the Social Web with the likes of Facebook being replete with albums of photos created by everyone on these networks. What would be a good idea to show that album that your Facebook Friend filled from their holiday on your large TV screen and page through each of those pictures using your smartphone as the control surface.

The main issues and hurdles

Is the playback device able to be controlled by the home network

Not all DLNA-capable playback equipment is capable of supporting “3-box” push-mode operation at the moment. Typically, most DLNA equipment from the big names that was issued over the last two years, especially televisions and network media adaptors and home theatre receivers will support this functionality “out of the box” or through a firmware update that the customer does. Some existing equipment may support the functionality through a customer-performed firmware update or may do so out of the box.

One of the best references for this capability is this list in the TwonkyForum discussion board run by TwonkyMedia, in relation to TwonkyMedia Manager.

Is the playback device set up to be controlled by the home network

Another thing to look for with playback devices is whether the function is enabled even though the device has the function. This may be looked at in the form of a Settings menu option in the Network Settings Menu or similar menu which may be labeled “Digital Media Renderer Mode”, “DLNA Remote Control”, “Network Media Control” or something similar. Some devices may put up a prompt that asks if you want this function to happen the first time content is pushed to that device using the DLNA method. This includes a few wireless speakers that support AirPlay and DLNA having them as selectable operating modes.

If this mode is set to on, the device can respond to DLNA requests. Some devices have the function disabled in the default factory setup while others may allow this kind of control by default.

Conclusion

Once you have this issue worked out, you can then use a handheld device, computer or dedicated remote controller to cause media to play on other home network devices.

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Sidekick app streams Google Play music to DLNA media devices

Article

Stream Google Play Music Songs To Any UPnP Or DLNA-Compatible Receiver | Lifehacker Australia

Cast To UPnP/DLNA for GMusic

Download link from Google Play Store 

Demonstration Music in video

Song: Earth Wind & Fire – Can’t Hide Love

Album: Earth Wind & Fire – Greatest Hits

My Comments

If you are buying music through the Google Play Store and want to get it out through some decent speakers, you don’t need to use Google’s Chromecast dongle and an HDMI-equipped TV. Rather, as regular readers will know, DLNA-compliant playback equipment in the from of stereos, home-theatre systems, wireless speakers and the like are more commonly available than the Google Chromecast HDMI dongle.

Instead the “Cast To UPnP/DLNA for GPlay” app adds the list of UPnP AV/DLNA media-renderer devices to the list of playback clients available for playing out your Google Play Store music. This can be a boon with home-theatre setups where you specifically don’t want the attached TV screen to light up every time you want music to play.

It is available as a time-limited free program but drop $2 within the program to guarantee it full functionality.

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Product Review–Toshiba AT300 10” Android tablet computer

Introduction

I am reviewing the Toshiba AT300 which is their current-model 10” Android consumer tablet computer. Compared to most other tablet computers, it is available in only one configuration which is a 16Gb unit which works only from Wi-Fi wireless networks.

Toshiba AT300 10" Android tablet computer

Price
– reviewed configuration
RRP AUD$539
Processor NVIDIA Tegra 3
RAM 1Gb
Screen 10” widescreen (1280×800) LED-backlit LCD
User Memory 16Gb SDXC reader
Operating environment Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11g/n
Bluetooth 3.0
USB 1 x MicroUSB 2.0,
USB 2.0 via proprietary docking plug
Audio 3.5mm audio input-output (headset) jack, audio output via proprietary docking plug, digital audio via HDMI
Video microHDMI, HDMI via proprietary docking plug.
Performance Index Quadrant 3985 (below ASUS Transformer Prime TF201)

The unit itself

Aesthetics and build quality

The Toshiba AT300 was well built for a good-quality tablet and had a metal-mesh backing. It was also well finished even though the glossy touchscreen was able to get the fingerprints too easily.

As for temperature control, this unit was able to keep its cool thanks to he mesh backing. This may be important if we see Android apps that work the Tegra 3 ARM processor very hard.

Display

The Toshiba AT300 tablet’s display was very responsive to the touchscreen input, showing the results very quickly and rendering the animations that Android Ice Cream Sandwich put up very quickly. Still pictures come through very crisply with this tablet, making it suitable to use as a photo viewer or digital photo frame for home or business.

For video playback, the display subsystem even shone with the smoothness even when fed the video via an on-demand video service. As I have said before, the glossy display is still prone to be too reflective in broad daylight.

Audio

The Toshiba AT300 played some music files from my networl-attached storage device as well as Internet hosted audio like Internet radio and this worked very smoothy. The sound quality was very good when I used the device with  lot of slim devices, audio quality doesn’t make it with the integrated speakers

The Toshiba Media Player app that comes with this tablet is no crapware – it works properly with DLNA media servers as well as content hosted locally on the tablet. I tried this out with music and photos held on a WD NAS that uses the TwonkyMedia Server software as its DLNA media server.

Connectivity and Expandability

Toshiba AT300 10" Android tablet docking connector

The docking connector that the tablet uses for charging and data transfer

The Toshiba AT300 used a MicroUSB data port but also used a proprietary docking connector for its power supply. This is to primarily work with a tablet dock that Toshiba supplies as an optional extra, where it has an audio output, standard USB connectors and standard HDMI connector.

But the MicroUSB connector could be a data / power port so you can use the standard MicroUSB cable with a charger rather than worrying whether you have the Toshiba cable or not. There is also a microHDMI connector that you can use with a suitable cable to connect to HDMI-equipped external displays.

Toshiba AT300 10" Android tablet side connections - SD card, microUSB, microHDMI and headphone jack

Side connections – SD card slot, microUSB port, microHDMI port and headphone/microphone jack

Like most Android tablets, the Toshiba has an integrated SD card reader which you can use to effectively expand your tablet’s memory. This is also handy if you want to use the tablet to review and edit your images that you just took with your digital camera.

Performance

The Toshiba AT300 10” Android tablet performed as expected for a good-quality Android tablet using the NVIDIA Tegra chipset.

The network performance was very smooth for most activities including video streaming. The unit was also very sensitive for the Wi-Fi reception.

I ran the Quadrant Android performance test and found that this unit comes in at a benchmark of 3985 which works just under the ASUS Transformer Prime TF201 hybrid tablet. This shows that it can come up properly with its peers as far as computing and graphics performance go.

As far as the battery life was concerned, the battery yielded 80% left after I watched one hour of on-demand video via the home network. It was also very frugal with the battery for most other activities.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

If Toshiba were to create a tablet that is a viable iPad alternative, they could supply a variant with an integrated wireless broadband modem. On the other hand, this tablet could just be used with the home Wi-Fi network, a public-access Wi-Fi network, a “Mi-Fi” router or an Android phone that supports Wi-Fi tethering.

Toshiba AT300 10" Android tabletAs well, I would like to see this tablet put in the queue for the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update in order to satisfy newer expectations that would be required of this platform.

Conclusion

This may be a hard decision to call but I would recommend the Toshiba AT300 as a 10” consumer-grade highly-capable alternative to the Apple iPad. This is more so if you value the tablet to he just about up to date on the operating environment and expect it to be used for multimedia, games, email-reading and Web-surfing while in bed or on the couch. Business users could value it for use as part of digital visual merchandising efforts, as a large-screen reference book or quick-view information terminal.

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DLNA now part of Nokia Lumia WP7 phones with Play To app

Article

Nokia’s Play To app now available for Lumia devices, enables DLNA-connectivity – Engadget

“Play To” DLNA App for Lumia’s Already Available in Marketplace | My Nokia Blog

My Comments

A feature that Microsoft should have provided as part of the Windows Phone mobile operating system but provides as part of the Windows 7 desktop operating system is the “Play To” function. Here, it allows you to push pictures, audio content or video content from your device to a DLNA-compliant network media player that can be controlled by other devices.

A question I have pondered about this operating environment is whether one could play content held on the phone or on a DLNA-compliant network media server through that smart TV or network-capable home-theatre receiver using one of these phones. Now the question has been answered with this app being available for the platform.

But, personally, I would like to see this available on the Windows Phone MarketPlace as an app for any WP7 phone and work in a “full” manner with network and local content. This means that it could download content from a DLNA NAS to the phone, play out content to a DLNA device, upload photos and video content to a NAS with DLNA upload functionality as well as cause content held on a media server to be played on a media-renderer device. This could them prove the Windows Phone 7 as part of the industry-standard media management landscape.

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At last a free iPhone app for controlling the UPnP AV / DLNA Home Media Network

Links

Bergin-IT Gizmoot

Direct link to iTunes App Store

My comments

This happens to be the latest DLNA controller program for the iPhone or iPod Touch and is available for free from the iTunes App Store. This program also is ad-supported through the iAd network that exists for iOS software. At the moment, it isn’t designed to work well with the iPad.

The functionality is basic in that it allows you to browse your media on a DLNA (UPnP AV) media server and have it play on a DLNA (UPnP AV) Media Renderer. This would be considered basic compared to the likes of PlugPlayer in that it wouldn’t allow you to play the media from the Media Server through the iPhone, nor would it support downloading or uploading between the Media Server and the iPhone’s local storage.

It can support playlists and slideshows so you can have your Samsung TV or WDTV Live run a sequence of media under the control of your iPhone.

I would still recommend this app for people who want to get going with UPnP AV / DLNA “three-box” setups and they have equipment that can be controlled through a UPnP AV / DLNA control point. This would be more so with network AV media adaptors which you want to press in to service for audio playback and you don’t necessarily need to have the TV on so you can select music to listen to. You may even think of using this program with that iPod Touch or iPhone 3GS that you have set aside because you have moved to the ultra-cool iPhone 4, so that the old phone can be part of the DLNA Home Media Network.

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TwonkyMobile app–another DLNA control point for your Android phone (VIDEO CONTENT)

Twonky Mobile app for your Android phone

 

Click on this link to view the video if it doesn’t show up on your device.

Direct link to the Twonky website

No doubt you may have decided to go towards an Android smartphone or tablet device and it may not have come with an adequate DLNA media app. There is another DLNA so

Judging from this video, I could see that the Twonky Mobile app can do what is expected of a DLNA control point app for a mobile phone or tablet device. It can even link with online content like podcasts or YouTube videos that you pull up through your Internet browsing as well as the content that is in your phone or DLNA media servers.

To get at this software, you would have to go to the Android Market and hunt for “Twonky Mobile” and is currently free for a short time.

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PROMISE Technology’s contribution to the DLNA Home Media Network

News Article

PROMISE Technology Announces General Availability of SmartStor Zero and Its Fusion Stream DLNA Digital Media Apps | DMN NewsWire

From the horse’s mouth

SmartStor Fusion Stream

My comments and notes

SmartStor Fusion Stream app

The SmartStor Fusion Stream app is another program that integrates a smartphone or tablet computer based on the iOS or Android platforms in to a standards-based DLNA Home Media Network.

It is capable of what is nowadays expected for a smartphone-based DLNA network media app. That is it can play or show media held anywhere in the DLNA Home Media Network on the device itself or a DLNA Media Renderer device capable of accepting media that is “pushed” to it from a control device.

Another key feature is that it integrates the local storage with the DLNA Home Media Network. Here, you can upload pictures or videos taken with the device’s camera to a DLNA-compliant media server that supports the upload function. It can also download media held in the DLNA Home Media Network to the device’s local storage so it can be enjoyed “on the go”.

The ability to download content held on a DLNA Media Server to the local storage of an iOS or Android device with this software could be handy especially for iOS users who want to add selected pictures to their device without having to perform special sync routines. This is because iTunes doesn’t seem to support “drag-n-drop” syncing of pictures that a user selects to an iOS device – a feature that can come in handy if an iPod Touch or iPad is put in to service as an electronic photo album or digital photo frame.

A main question that I would have at the moment would be whether pictures and videos that come in to a smartphone that runs this software can be shown via a DLNA screen or uploaded to a DLNA Media Server if they came in via email, MMS picture or Bluetooth? Similarly, I would like to be sure that the program doesn’t impair the performance of the smartphone or device; or doesn’t take too long to browse the a DLNA media collection on a server.

This program could raise the bar when it comes to DLNA interface programs for mobile phones and internet tablets.

SmartStor Zero

The SmartStor Zero is another two-bay network-attached storage device which is optimised to work as a media server. As well as serving media to DLNA equipment and iTunes clients, it can accept content that is uploaded from mobile devices that are equipped with DLNA-Upload software like most of the DLNA-integration software for the Android platform and the abovementioned Fusion Stream app for the iPhone.

This device’s Web-based user interface has the ability to become an access point for the media held on the NAS. But it supports the ability to allow one to directly upload selected pictures to Facebook whether to a new album or as extra images for an existing album.

Another bonus is that the Installation software doesn’t add any drivers or other components to allow a computer to gain access to the NAS. Instead, the software works with the host operating system’s network-storage capabilities to “find” the NAS and provide a mount point or mapped drive letter for the storage resources.

One feature that I would like the DLNA software to benefit from is to support the photo tags that are part of iPhoto or Windows Live Photo Gallery. This could even include the People Tags and Geotags that Windows Live Photo Gallery supports so as to allow one to search or browse for people in the photo library using the user interface provided by a DLNA-compliant media player or control point.

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PlugPlayer – now available for the iPad

Previously, I have mentioned in this site about PlugPlayer which is a DLNA Media Controller app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. I have cited it more as a solution to bridge this popular smartphone with the DLNA Home Media Network.

Now this app has been ported to the iPad and is able to take advantage of the larger screen area offered by this new device. It is mostly based on the iPhone version but there are plans to make this app use all the assets of the iPad as it is revised.

This may appeal to those of you who want to see the iPad work as a coffee-table control point for the DLNA Home Media Network or bring up pictures and videos held on a network-attached storage on the iPad.

As well, any of you who own a Linn DS network-audio streamer that works with Cara software can be sure that the latest version of this software will offer the full functionality of the latest firmware. This includes on/standby, access to Internet radio as well as source selection.

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HTC Unveils a DLNA-based ‘Media Link’ for Handset TV Streaming | eHomeUpgrade

 

HTC Unveils a DLNA-based ‘Media Link’ for Handset TV Streaming | eHomeUpgrade

My comments

At the moment, Samsung has already delivered a DLNA media control point / server with their Android handsets in the form of AllShare. This would have meant that someone who had an HTC Desire or wanted to start a mobile service contract using an HTC Android handset would have had to visit Android Marketplace to add on TwonkyMedia Server and Andromote to add on DLNA media-sharing / media-control functionality to their handset.

But HTC is intending to supply a “Media Link” app with their newer Android handsets to integrate them in to the DLNA Home Media Network. At the moment, this app is standard with the upcoming Desire Z and HD handsets and is intended to be available for newer HTC Android handsets.

The main issue I have with this app is whether it is available as an in-place upgrade or add-on for existing HTC Android handsets or will these users need to look towards Andromote and TwonkyMedia Server?

From what I have gleaned about this program, it seems to be able to work with content held on the handset but I would like to know whether a person can use the handset to have content held on another DLNA media server like a NAS playing on the DLNA-enabled media player or be able to “pull-down” selected content held on the DLNA media server to the phone via the network.

It is still worth keeping an eye on the Android market for apps that may do the job better than whatever comes with the phone, especially if you are after more DLNA functionality.

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