LinkStation, TwonkyMedia, and PS3 video streaming

After getting LinkStation Duo 2TB NAS as the backup disk for our home network, I realised that it also had a built-in, DLNA  compliant media server. Since we had hundreds of video clips and thousands of photos, this sounded like a great opportunity to get all those family memories to the Sony Bravia TV screen. But: nothing is so simple, in these days of IT and media “standards”. Far too large part of this weekend has been spent trying to get different parts of this new media equation to communicate with each other. A firmware update to the LinkStation produced almost usable Twonkymedia server setup (the shipped version of Twonkymedia was apparently uncompatible with the NAS firmware, making it useless). I say “almost”, since it seems that some media player clients are able to access something from this media server, some nothing. E.g. Windows Media Player in Win7 seems to show parts of the disk media contents, and you can navigate the folders. In the Sony Bravia built-in media browser you can see a few videos, but not navigate the folder structure. The best results come from using PlayStation3, where the folder navigation seems to work fine, and quite a few video files play ok. Unsurprisingly, it was those older videos we had shot with a Sony video camera that play fine in PS3, but when the videos turned into those recorded with Canon cameras, they became “unknown data”. I explored various conversion options, if I’d take the leap and produce a converted version of all those HD video files, but the video and audio codecs and file formats are a real jungle. I hoped in vain there would a single-button solution that would make the suitable conversion possible, without all that “muxing” and “demuxing” that the real digital video people seem to be doing all the time. Late at night, I finally found some kind of solution that seems to work: if you install the latest version of Windows Live Movie Maker (I also installed Expression Encoder 4, just to be sure), you can save imported Canon MOV files into various types of WMV files – and finally the “Save Movie … for Burn into DVD” option produced a file that successfully streamed from LinkStation’s TwonkyMedia server to the PS3, displaying both video and audio. The result is not comparable to the HD original, but it is the best conversion method that I could find that is almost at “single-button” level of simplicity. Hopefully someone can find something even more simple — and better quality? For a regular consumer, the entire DLNA “standardization” appears almost like a joke — I have installed and tested numerous media servers, and tried to access them from a variety of clients and players, and none had actually worked like they should. The era of interoperability is not yet here.

Author: frans

Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media, esp. Digital Culture and Game Studies in the University of Tampere, Finland.

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