Originally published in Personal Computer World as part of ‘Your media, anywhere’
Serving it up
If you’re building a home media network, your first thought might be to use the Media Center functionality built into many versions of Windows. But, frankly, there are a better options. While Media Center is happy to work with ‘Extenders’ to allow playback on other devices, there aren’t that many around, and there are other ways of sharing media that will give you a wider choice of playback devices.
As explained in the main part of the article, for the best compatibility, you really need a DLNA media server, or at the least UPnP. And, thankfully, there’s quite a lot of software out that that will do the job – often included on some streaming NAS devices.
One of the most well known is Twonkyvision (www.twonkyvision.com), which is pre-installed on a range of NAS devices, but it’s not the only solution. MythTV can, for example, share your music files via UPnP as well as giving you a centralised TV recording system, as will GB PVR (www.gbpvr.com). And if you have PCs or Macs with iTunes – or iTunes compatible streamers, like the Pinnacle Soundbridge – then the open source Firefly server will feed them with music, using the mt-daap protocol.