DLNA and Smart TVs. Media sharing made easy.

Posted: October 26, 2011 in Apple, hardware, iphone, Mac OSX, software, technology
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

“oooh, so modern”

When I got my new Samsung LED/LCD TV, I was excited by some of the new features and especially interested in the whole Smart HUB side of things. From what I knew, it would enable me to share media directly with the TV from my computer.  Upon further investigation it seemed the answer to whether media could be shared was a fuzzy one.

First off, you need to read the e-manual, which fortunately has its own button on the remote since the written documentation is a bit thin with this TV.  I guess the idea is they give you what you need to get it installed and connected enough to then be able to use the “e-manual”.  Not a bad thing at all since I’m sure most consumers would never use half of the features of this TV nor would they read the whole manual.  Me, I like a dry read.  Must be the tinkerer in me that likes to see how things work, and conversely, how to fix things once I screw them up, so I read it from cover to cover.  Once I got thru the initial setup and connecting of the TV, I wanted to see what else could be done, especially when it comes to getting media off my computer without having to copy to a thumb drive or burn to disk.  This is what DLNA is all about, and one of the reasons I wanted this specific TV in the first place.

What does DLNA stand for? It’s the acronym for Digital Living Network Alliance. Which is basically just a fancy way of saying the standards that let our electronics talk to each other, regardless of manufacturer.  Devices get DLNA certified which means they adhere to the standards set forth in the interoperability guidelines first set forth in 2003.  This interoperability is what I was looking for but having difficulty getting to work between my MacBook Air and the TV.  Sure I could use the XBox360 and Connect360 as I had been doing for a while now, but I wanted to be able to get the media directly from the MBA to the TV without having another device in the mix. Was it because Samsung doesn’t like to play well with Apple?  No. They have been supplying components to them for years. In fact many laptop screens were made by Samsung.  So what was the problem? As it turns out, it’s Apple’s fault.  The Mac OS X does not natively support DLNA.  Unlike the latest versions of Windows, Apple has not been putting much time or effort into making devices other than their own work with each other.

grab the version that’s right for your OS

So what can you do if you want to get media off your Mac to your smart TV?  Try TvMobili. (I know, strange name.  might be easier to just click the following link rather than typing it)

Thankfully third-party developers are pioneering this service and making it available for free.  http://www.tvmobili.com/download.php

What it does is install a program that runs in the background of your computer which allows your Smart TV to detect it like any other DLNA device.

add your files or folders to share

change your settings as desired.

Setup is simple.  Just turn on the components you want, make TvMobili visible on your network, and share the File (s) or Folder (s) you want to be able to access with your TV.

The tools are fairly self-explanatory.  The main ones you will want to tweak are the Content Tab and the Settings Tab. Maybe the Status tab as well since it will show you how much media you are sharing, and how much you have streamed, which can come in handy if you are streaming to outside your network and are concerned about data usage.

The program has the ability and option to make your content available outside of your home too, if you so desire.

I prefer to keep my content more locked down than that so I have turned that feature off as you can see in the following screen capture.  It’s under the Settings, in the GENERAL section/ EXTERNAL ACCESS, nice and easy to find which I appreciate.

Whenever you launch the program it opens up in your web browser, but you don’t actually need to have the web browser open to use the service.  It is running in the background all the time.  In fact whenever I am at home and open up my MBA which is running TvMobili I get an alert message on my TV that my “AllShare Device Connected ” is available and offers to connect to it.  A simple click on the “connect” is all that is needed to watch the media from my MBA on my TV over my home network.

samsung’s smart hub screen

So far, streaming speeds have been excellent, there is no lag or buffering occurring at all, and the pausing, fast-forwarding, rewinding etc works seamlessly using the Samsung TV remote (or the iPhone Samsung remote app, which looks exactly like the physical remote that came with the TV once it is paired with your TV).  Removing one device out of the link between my media and the TV is a great start to simplifying the process of sharing media within our household.  I’m sure it’ll be something I’ll be tweaking and playing with for some time, with this TV being a central part of that process, with the help of TvMobili of course.

Samsung had the common sense to provide the hardware components necessary, but fell short on the software side a little by not providing a complete solution.  Another great example of free software filling a need for the consumer.  Not sure if that’s a good thing entirely though, since it seems to be making the manufacturers lazy to some extent because they know that someone out there will figure out a way to make all your tech work together as long as you give them some of the tools and spark the interest of the developers.

Kind of a new take on the old adage “if you build it, they will come“.  In this case it’s more like “if you build it, they will come and finish the integration for you“.

tcg

* television photo from publicdomainclip-art.blogspot.com

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Comments
  1. tcg says:

    just an update on TvMobili on my Mac.  Had issues with it after the latest MacBook Air firmware update.  It would be seen on my TV but could not share any folders – the add button would not “stick” so to speak.  Did a complete uninstall of the TvMobili program in the terminal and then reinstalled and it worked again.  A minor glitch, but one to remember if you run into it.

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  2. […] now to get digital media off my Mac wirelessly to my DNLA TV, (even wrote a blog post about it here) that is until it started acting up last week and either not connecting or not letting me see my […]

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