DLNA Difficulties Defy Desires

September 5, 2011

Entertainment, Multimedia, Technology

Over the past couple of days, I’d completed all the chores that needed to be done on this long weekend. So today was a free day. The weather was amazing today. But Cindy and I decided to take care of a few things: Cindy spent the day working on schoolwork while I worked on configuring the new TV to work with the rest of the household network.

My goal was simple: facilitate streaming movies from our media server to the new Samsung TV. I have ripped almost a hundred of our DVD’s into MP4 (i.e., .m4v) file formats. And I’ve used these files on other computers as well as mobile phones. So I assumed that this was going to be rather simple. But simple technology tasks often become very complicated – as was the case today.

The first step of the process was to set up a DLNA server. Since we have a Twonky server already built into our media server (i.e., a Western Digital NAS server), I figured that I would go ahead and use that platform first. But when I attempted to play a movie from the media server, the Samsung TV just displayed an “in progress” graphic. It took almost five minutes before it timed out with an error.

After playing with this for a while, I finally decided that the embedded Twonky server in my WD NAS might be outdated. So I decided to buy a copy of the software for my main system. After a failed transaction through Paypal, I was finally able to purchase and download a current version of Twonky server. After a few minutes of configuration, I was able to try streaming content once again. The results were identical. So I was now out a couple of sawbucks and I was no closer to a solution.

After tasting failure twice, it was time to do some research. First, I found out that I am not the only person who has had this problem. Second, I learned that many of the problems with streaming via Twonky were the result of multiple Twonky servers on the same network. While that didn’t make much sense, it was worth spending the time to reconfigure my systems. Of course, the result was some lost time and no substantial progress towards solving the problem. So it was three strikes – but I wasn’t out.

Next I was coming to the conclusion that the problem might lie with the new Samsung TV and not the streaming server. There are enough references to Samsung TV’s not support every MP4 container type. Indeed, some references even suggested that AVI files solved the problem for them. Of course, I’m not going to convert all of my AVI files on a whim. So I decided to pursue a different short-term course.

I saw quite a few derogatory references to Samsung’s DLNA implementation. So just in case it was the DLNA client built into the TV, I decided to copy one of the MP4 movies to a USB drive. I plugged the drive into the TV (after renaming the file from .m4v to .mp4). After finding out how to browse to a USB connected drive, I was able to successfully watch one of the movies that I couldn’t stream to the TV.

So now I’m left with a quadry: should I convert and/or rip my DVD’s again? I hardly think that this would be worth it. Since I really want this to work via DLNA, I’ll be entering a ticket with Samsung service concerning their DLNA server on the 6-series televisions.

[Note: If you’re wondering why the movie poster from Serenity is attached to this post, it’s because Serenity was the movie that I used to perform my various tests.]



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