2) Serviio and HomeStream (Free)
Serviio is a free media server. It allows you to stream your media files (music, video or images) to renderer devices (e.g. a TV set, Bluray player, games console or mobile phone) on your connected home network. Although the User interface is pretty minimal, it does it’s job very well.
Serviio at the moment is mostly interesting for people that have a Sony device like Bravia TV, PS3 and audio sets which are 100% supported by Serviio, in fact Sony has even showed support for Serviio and put up a Sony version of Serviio on their own website called Homestream. Serviio knows exactly what it needs to do in order to make sure you can play whatever file you throw at it, on your device. If transcoding is not needed, it will remux the file and at that point it will almost cost no CPU from the mediaserver since the TV can handle most of the things by itself.
Serviio also uses a priority-based metadata extraction so that you can choose what metadata should describe your media files (e.g. audio track name, DVD cover, TV series and episodes names, etc.). Serviio enables playback of online resources like RSS feeds, live streams or web site content so that you can listen to your favourite podcasts or watch latest TV programmes published online.
Onto the pros and cons:
– Very fast, lightweight server that works on multiple platforms
– Full support from Sony for all of it’s devices (including a Sony branded version called Homestream)
– The ability to add external resources like YouTube videos and RSS feeds
– Not for everyone a problem but Serviio is built on the Java platform and requires Java
– Some specific MKV files wouldn’t play or would stutter on the devices we used to test
– No support yet for transcoding in subtitles to all devices (only some supported devices that can play subtitles itself)
3) Mezzmo (Commercial)
The only commercial mediaserver in our list is Mezzmo. Mezzmo’s media server allows you to stream all your music, movies and photos from your computer to your TV, home theater, games consoles and digital media players. Ofcourse a lot of people will not like to pay for a good DLNA server but Mezzmo definitely is worth the $29.95. The coolest thing about Mezzmo is that the creators made sure it supports almost any brand available on the market today. Right now it supports over 500 different devices, from Sony TV’s to the Xbox360 and Denon, Onkyo receivers and tablets, phones and Set top boxes.
Another cool feature of Mezzmo is that it can pre-transcode files. This means that once you request to play a specific file like an MKV movie, it will know to transcode, will do it on the fly and will finish transcoding the whole file to a supported format and save it on your harddrive so later on, no more transcoding needed if you would play the same movie or music again. It can even pre-transcode upfront without having to start playing a movie.
Some other cool features of Mezzmo:
Multiple device support: Unlike other media servers, when you purchase your copy of Mezzmo, you can stream to as many devices as you have in your home. No extra charges are necessary. Device profiles for all popular UPnP and DLNA devices are included so no configuration is required. Stream different videos to different devices simultaneously in your home!
Parental control: Setup your Mezzmo library so that your children are restricted from watching certain videos, music or photos. Set access rights to devices, playlists, folders and media files.
Network Media Single Source (NMSS): Exclusive to Mezzmo! Link all your media servers in your home to Mezzmo for an easy-to-use, one server solution.
Ofcourse if you want to test it, there is a free trial version available on their website.
The Pros and Cons:
– Hundreds of devices already supported and this list keeps growing with updates
– Pre-Transcoding available (optional)
– A very cool iTunes like Interface where you can check all art
– RIP Audio cds right from Mezzmo
– Manually have to set the right device profile for each of your devices
– Windows only 🙁
– No plugin support
You can get Mezzmo over here.
As you can see, there are plenty of great mediaservers available these days and development on all three of them continues still and will make each product even better over time, supporting more profiles.
Just a small last thing I wanted to discuss is Airplay by Apple. AirPlay (previously called AirTunes when it was for audio only) is a proprietary protocol stack/suite just like DLNA, developed by Apple Inc. that allows wireless streaming of audio, video, and photos, together with related metadata between devices. Originally only implemented in Apple’s software and devices, Apple has licensed the audio-streaming portion of the AirPlay protocol stack as a third-party software component technology to manufacturer partners for them to use in their products in order to be compatible with Apple’s iDevices. More and more devices even from other brands like Sony and Denon are supporting Airplay next to DLNA which allows you to directly play a video or music file from your idevice onto a Airplay compatible device. The main difference with DLNA is that in this case you mostly work from one device to another directly without anything in between. The combination of having both DLNA and Airplay support on devices these days is becoming more and more important and I think by 2014 you can expect most home devices to support both protocols.
Of course we also know that you can use mediaplayers from Dune, Xtreamer, AppleTV or any other but we wanted to figure out a way to be able to play everything we have in our home without having to buy another device (meaning even more cables running everywhere). The coolest thing so far about DLNA is that it has so many possibilities and with mediaservers like the 3 mentioned above, we expect this to grow rapidly in the future. Even manufacturers like Sony are now seeing this is where we need to go and in an e-mail conversation with them they are right now even thinking about adding subtitle support directly on the TV 🙂 Who knows, it’s only a matter of time before we can do whatever we want right on our TV, without having to use any other device…….
Currently I’m working on helping out with both the Plex and Serviio team and using it next to each other.
For questions, comments and suggestions feel free to leave a comment below!