How to stream music, movies and photos to other devices around the home

Do you have music, videos and photos on your computer? Can you access them on your phone or tablet? Yes you can using DLNA. Here we see how to stream media to your Android device using DLNA apps.

 

What is DLNA?

DLNA stands for Digital Living Network Alliance and it is a networking standard that enables devices on the local network to connect to each other with the purpose of exchanging files and streaming media.

It basically enables phones, tablets, computers, smart TVs and other devices to talk to each other over your home Wi-Fi using a common language. If two devices support DLNA then they can communicate with each other.

One device must be a DLNA server and this contains all the media files, such as music, videos and photos. A computer with a large disk drive makes a good DLNA server because it can store lots of files and can easily stream them to other devices. Some NAS (network attached storage) drives can act as DLNA servers, so it doesn;t have to be a computer.

Devices that connect to DLNA servers are called DLNA clients and they communicate with the server over the network and access the media files that are shared. Phones and tablets make good DLNA clients and they enable you to listen to music, watch videos and view photos stored remotely on the computer elsewhere in the home.

No files need to be stored on the phone or tablet and this means that valuable storage space is not wasted on the device and there is no need to duplicate the content that is on the computer. Your music, movies and photo collection is in one central place where it is easy to manage, but you can play it anywhere in the home.

(An alternative to DLNA is to use Microsoft Groove to stream music around your home. You could also use Google Play Music)

 

Turn on Windows DLNA

Windows has DLNA capabilities built in and can act as a server. You just need to turn it on. I’ll be using Windows 10, but older versions will probably work too.

Open the Control Panel and enter media into the search box.

Click Media streaming options under Network and Sharing Centre.

The media settings in the Windows Control Panel

 

Turn on media streaming.

Turn on media streaming in Windows

The following window appears and it enables media streaming to be allowed or blocked. Make sure it is allowed.

Windows media streaming settings

Go to the Google Play Store on your Android phone or device, select Apps and search for DLNA. There are lots of DLNA clients that can play music, videos and photos.


MediaMonkey

MediaMonkey is a general media player that is also able to access the local Wi-Fi network and find DLNA servers. It can then browse the media stored on them and play the files.

Once Windows is set up to share media, Open MediaMonkey on your Android phone or tablet and press UPnP. If you have the free version of the app, you can stream for 30 minutes at a time.

DLNA servers are displayed in a list. You will probably just have the one PC, but in theory there could be several. Tap the server and there is a choice of Music, Pictures, Videos and Playlists.

Press one, such as music, and you can browse the music stored on the PC. It can be browsed by artist, albums, composers, genre and so on.

Find a track, tap it and it begins playing. It is great for listening to the music collection on your PC. There is an equalizer for tweaking the audio quality too.

I had problems with photos and videos for some unknown reason and I could browse them, but couldn’t play them. It works great with music though.

 MediaMonkey media player on Android MediaMonkey free media player running on Android


VLC

VLC is a popular app because it plays a wide range of media files on the device and over the network. Open the menu panel on the left and press Local Network to view a list of DLNA servers that are available. A Windows PC with media streaming enabled will appear in the list.

Tap the Windows PC server you you get the same list of options as in MediaMonkey - Music, Pictures, Playlists and Videos. Tap one of these, such as Music and you can browse the music library on the PC by album, artist, composers, genre and other attributes.

Find a music track, tap it and it begins playing. There is really nothing to it and it is very easy to stream music from the PC. An equalizer is available with many presets such as rock, classical, pop and others. This enables the sound quality to be customised.

VLC can also play back movie files stored on the PC acting as a DLNA server. There are several options for browsing the files and tapping a video plays streams it to the Android device and it plays in portrait or full screen landscape modes.

VLC could also browse the photos stored on the PC too, but like MediaMonkey, it also had problems displaying photos.

For music and videos, VLC works great and it is a useful streaming music player that enables you to keep all your albums on your PC’s disk where there is plenty of space and to stream them to your phone or tablet as and when needed.

 VLC Media Player VLC Media Player

 

Have you tried streaming music, movies and photos to your Android devices using a DLNA server on your PC or Mac? How did it go?