If you want easy access to your videos, photos and music on your TV, having a Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) enabled telly is the simplest way to go. Lots of new TVs come with DLNA support, including the Toshiba REGZA WL and Toshiba REGZA SL ranges. But before you start slinging files from your laptop to the big screen in your living room, it pays to do some preparation. Here’s our guide to creating a DLNA-ready media library…
Any DLNA network needs two parts – a DLNA server and DLNA clients. If your TV has DLNA-support, it’ll hook up to your network via Wi-Fi or wired ethernet to act as a client. Laptops like the Toshiba Satellite A660 that are DLNA-enabled can act as clients too but also as DLNA servers. With Windows 7 onboard, you already have all the software you’ll need to get DLNA networking set up but you need to get your library in a shipshape state.
Be finicky about formats
Not all file formats are supported by DLNA. When you’re putting together your media library, make sure you’ve got files that are compatible. For photos, JPEG is the safest bet, with audio go for MP3 or LPCM (WAV) and for videos opt for MPEG2 or WMV.
Some media server software including Windows Media Player 12 can transcode unsupported formats to play on your TV but it’s still best to convert as much of your media library to supported codecs as you can, since it’ll make load times shorter, and mean less work for your PC. A quick search online will throw up plenty of free programmes to easily convert audio and video files, and most music management software, such as Windows Media Player, will let you tweak the formats they save in from the preferences menu.
To make sure your media library is easy to navigate on your TV, set up separate folders for each type of media. Keep all your videos separate from your music and photos. If you’re ultra-organised, you could even create different folders for each genre too, separating TV shows from movies, and music from podcasts.
When sorting out your music folder, make sure each artist in your music library has a folder, with sub-folders for each album. Do the same for TV shows with separate folders for each series of a particular show. It might take a while, but will save you tons of time when scrolling through your library on the big screen.??When organising your photos, a folder structure organising them by year or event will also make it a lot simpler to jump quickly to the ones you’re after. Also give your pictures individual names rather than sticking with the ones assigned by your camera or you’ll find yourself struggling through similarly named batches of snaps.
Select your software
If you’ve got a Windows 7 laptop like any of the latest Toshiba laptop range, you can use Windows Media Player as your DLNA server software. It’s pre-installed, and can find and identify your music and video collection making it simple to stream it to your TV. In addition to standard DLNA features, Windows 7 can push music or video to other DLNA certified devices with a feature called Play To.
There are plenty of other DLNA server software options besides Windows Media Player and Windows Media Centre (which can also act as DVR), but Microsoft’s solution is already on your computer, available at no extra charge, and easy to use.
Just make sure you’ve performed a Windows Update to make sure you have the latest version, fire it up, and let it scour your library automatically. Then, as long as your computer and TV are connected to the same network, the telly will see all your media files, as long as Windows Media Player or Windows Media Centre are running.