For a while now, we were using our PS3 console to play media files stored on our NAS. Recently, Sony has made this more difficult (not surprising since they would rather you watch stuff from their partners). They have been tightening the number of supported media file types & now recently, verifying copyright on the media files that do play, and if you’re trying to play a copyrighted file (even if you own the physical blu-ray or DVD) you are sorely disappointed when the machine tells you it will refuse to play the file stored on your NAS.
We use mediatomb as a DLNA media server to make content available on our LAN. Mediatomb is a free open source software that is extremely efficient, and requires minimal hardware resources to operate effectively. Most modern Linux distributions have it in their repository and you can easily configure mediatomb to be a great DLNA media repository on your local network.
There are many great tools for playback of DLNA sources, and many new smart TVs come with this functionality. I own 2 smart TVs in my home, and after doing much research, many smart TVs that say they support DLNA do a lackluster job as DLNA clients. Many times the number of media codecs supported is rather slim at best – so even if your TV can see your Mediatomb, it will likely complain that the file type is not supported & refuse to play your stored content. To get around this problem, I have used the “net top” hardware platform to build a set top box that can run Linux and the free XBMC media center software. When properly configured, a Linux/XBMC media box is the best DLNA client you could ever have for your TV. Media codec support is extremely broad and the XBMC software is efficient on hardware and pleasing to the eye as well as passing the “Wife Acceptance Factor” test. For me, pleasing my wife and giving my family easy to use solutions is a very key point in the success of any project when it comes to adding value to our home entertainment systems. The XBMC box is even a great choice for a music jukebox for when you might be entertaining guests. It features screen visualizations that really add background and sparkle to the jukebox experience. You can play playlists or numerous music media selections from your Mediatomb (or other DLNA) system.
What about remote control? many will ask this question. XBMC has an official remote app in the android market (there may be one in the apple store too) and if you have an Android phone or tablet that connects to your network, you can easily pair and operate your XBMC box wirelessly and easily from your device’s touchscreen. This is a must for any couch potato. The remote app can even turn off your XBMC box after you are done using it.