Yes, the UI is where the focus should be, and CE vendors won't like being told what it should do or how it should look. Despite that, many consumers find these UIs sorely lacking in ease of use.
Interoperability is one thing. The number of steps or menu selections a user must make to do what he/she wants to do is another. DLNA makes interoperability possible, but the UI determines how easy or how complicated it will be to make it happen, and there is still more work to be done in this area.
I don't have any issues being able to stream my audio/video content throughout my WinOS computer hardware and my A/V hardware, all over the house.
For example, when the America's Cup sailing events were going on at the San Francisco bay, I was able to capture/download the video footage of the actual races on my computer and save it to my external NAS HDDs. I could play the saved race footage (in *.mp4 and/or *.mkv formats) on my 24" PC monitor w/o any problems, using (for example) FREEware version of BSPlayer (http://www.bsplayer.com/). I also have the networked Patriot Box Office (PBO) media player/streamer (w/built-in 1TB HDD) connected to my downstairs A/V system and can push the footage from my PC (upstairs) thru the NetGear ACPL networking hardware to the PBO and then play it on my 46" Panasonic Plasma TV via my networked Integra (nee Onkyo) PreAmp HDMI connectivity. Alternatively, I can also select to play the same footage residing in the upstairs PC, using the MediaPlayer functionality of my DishNetwork Hopper DVR, that is fed thru the PAYware Conceiva/Mezzmo Media Server (http://www.conceiva.com/products/mezzmo/) transcoder application running in the PC. Or I can achieve similar results via the Mezzmo streamer using the PBO uPNP/DLNA functionality w/o relying on the PBO internal HDD. I can similarly accomplish the same playback feat using the XBMC (http://xbmc.org/) OpenSource Media Server. Additionally, my Panasonic PlasmaTV can connect thru the same ACPL networking to my U-verse modem and playback the YouTube video of the races and using the HDMI (V1.3b) BAC (back audio channel) feature all audio can be routed back thru the Integra PreAmp to my floor standing Vandersteen speakers powered by a 5 channel Rotel PowerAmp. Since I currently run Win8.1Pro with the Microsoft Windows Media Center, I have successfully achieved similar results using WMC, as well, I prefer not to use WMC that often.
We also have a Toshiba Laptop that can equally achieve similar playback results, via WiFi at 720p (but @1080p resolution, the WiFi gets a little choppy at times and not as consistent). We have a Brother Laser printer with WiFi and we have no issues printing to it, even using either an iPhone 4 or an iPhone 5s. We also have Vonage VoIP in the house and a Panasonic DECT6.0PLUS phone messaging system w/Bluetooth and the iPhones use this portion of the network in the house rather than the cellphone systems. Since the move to the new house about 3 months ago, I had to perform very minimal rework to re-establish all of this A/V networking all over again, even though I had to swap in a new AT&T U-verse modem.
DLNA works for me and I detest proprietary and closed systems, in the mindset of Apple and have a giant big axe to grind with running iTunes in WinOS but that is a story for another day. DLNA is the silent partner in my A/V crimes that have allowed me to bridge the gap between my PC hw/sw and my A/V hw! :)
Apple understands that the technical part isn't the hard part. The hard part is the user interface.
I think you are absolutely right about this. But the thing is, from what I understand CE vendors' busines model, that UI is the ONLY thing they think they can differentiate their products from others. In other words, they would absolutely hate to be told by someone like DLNA what the UI should do and how the UI should look like.
Ah, the central server approach. I prefer the "federated" approach, although it may become more expensive (depending how extensive you make this in-home network). Perhaps that's why today's crop of "connected TVs" and other such, turn me off big time.
Instead of DLNA, I much prefer an IP stack, and at the *very* least a full-fledged web browser, in each Internet-connected appliance.
Here's an example of something that could be better than it is. I have a WiFi stereo tuner in my setup. Most of these so-called WiFi radios depend on a single content aggregation web site and have a limited choice of codecs. So although I enjoy it very much, and use it daily, the PC I've dedicated to the same system can decode ANY radio station out there, and the WiFi tuner cannot. Why? Because it doesn't support all of the codecs in use for Internet radio. It may well find the station, but no luck streaming.
Exactly the same thing happens with our tablet. Lots of stuff it won't do right, that the PCs have no trouble with at all. Never mind AppleTV, Roku, et al, which are incomprehensibly limited.
Not sure how you're fixed up at home but we have one central server upstairs that feeds the other 6 computers, 3 TV, and 2 PS3's, and a couple of blue ray players. All the "media" is on the server. So if you want to serve your media to multiple places, you'd think windows media center would do it fine. It doesn't. YOu can sort of get Windows media player to serve up some stuff but it does a poor job and is inconvenient to configure. By running an "open source" DLNA server, all devices can be fed what they want to eat. We choose not to put PC's in our entertainment cabinet but if we did, then you could use simple shares, etc. as long as your media was on that PCBut with DLNA, any phone or computer can send media to the video reciever which feeds HDMI to our big screen. No PC is necessary here. DLNA is made to do this and to make everything interoperable. NIH prevents this...
Sure, if a single company takes control over all peripherals, using proprietary standards, it can make things easy. They've created a walled garden, not much different from what the cable companies do with their proprietary STBs.
We have a WiFi printer, different brand from PCs of course, which requires you to install the printer drivers in the PCs. Nothing difficult about that, but it's easy to see why a walled garden approach would make it even "easier." As long as you're happy depending entirely on the one company. Which I'm not.
Unless i'm missing something, all the problems mentioned in these posts are solved if one uses a real PC, preferably with Flash Player installed, *as* the STB. Not Roku, not Appletv, not an iPad nor an Android tablet, not anything that's been deliberately crippled.
I actually never use Windows Media Center, although I would if I needed the PVR function to be in my PC. And networking among in-home PCs is a piece of cake.
I'm not sure what could be easier than connecting a PC to a TV set, especially if you use HDMI. One cable, auto-configured, incorporates HDCP decryption for DRM protected material, it should be really simple.
Oh, I should add, you buy a Logitech wireless mouse and wireless keyboard, so the PC sits close to the TV but you don't have to. The keyboard is primarily used to set up bookmarks, and then just about everything can be done with the mouse.
That's a great point, about the difference between DLNA and Apple. I had a demonstration of the differences between Apple and another wireless connectivity standard when I recently bought a new printer that supported Apple's AirPrint as well as Android's CloudPrint.
Here's the steps needed to sync an iPad to an AirPrint capable printer -
1. Turn on printer
2. Turn on iPad
Being a Windows/Android guy my whole life I was really shocked when my wife's iPad seemlessly synced and printed to our new printer.
Here are the steps need to sync an Anroid phone to a Cloudprint printer -
1. Turn on printer
2. Turn on phone
3. Access Google Play
4. Download and install CloudPrint app
5. Access CloudPrint app
6. Setup account
8. Setup printer
Being a tech-savvy guy setting up CloudPrint isn't that big a problem, until my mother-in-law needs her printer setup, and the neighbor has trouble, and my non-techie friends can't connect, etc. etc. I understand the critisicm of Apple, but guess who doesn't bother me when their new gizmo isn't connecting to their gigigadget, that's right my Apple friends, because Apple just works.
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