DLNA vs Airplay


So AppleGirl has been talking about Airplay for quite awhile, but Airplay won’t be available until November. But, why wait? DLNA is readily available now and it’s better than Airplay. For those that are not familiar with DLNA, it stands for Digital Living Network Alliance. DLNA allows you to connect any device in your home that is DLNA enabled thru wireless network. What does this mean? It means that you can connect your phone to your laptop, TV, digital frame etc. You can connect any device, and share your music, photos, videos etc!! Unlike, Airplay you can only connect your Apple devices. DLNA has the backing of major manufactures like Sony, HTC, Samsung and many more. It looks like Apple is doing its own thing yet again! Spinning the wheels and creating something on their own when DLNA already exist in the market and it’s proven to work. Think about the possibilities that could have been if Apple adpated DLNA but instead Apple is off in lala land.

Anyways, for those of you like me that have an older TV, the HTC tube allows for your TV to have DLNA capabilities. Just  plug the Tube via a HDMI cable to your TV and you’re good to go. Don’t have DLNA on your phone? Download the TownkyServer and then you can beam to any DLNA device as well :).

Check out the video to see how DLNA works.


Let’s first briefly recap the media streaming history. Six years ago Apple released AirTunes, which allows iTunes users to wirelessly stream their iTunes music library to Apple’s wireless router – Airport Express. In the meantime the consumer electronics industry had founded DLNA. Umm, doesn’t it sound familiar? 😉

I have tried audio streaming with AirTunes on Airport Express as well as MediaLink (a piece of software using DLNA technology) on my computer  streaming media to my Sony PS3. Even though Airport express only supports audio streaming as compared to Media Link which supports all media, AirTunes performance is always seamless and hassle free unlike Medialink. If DLNA is already out in the market, GoogleChic, is there a reason why not many people have heard of it until just recently when Apple announced Airplay? If DLNA is much better than Airplay, I am assuming that GoogleChic, you are already using it on your Android phone. No? Why? 😉

Lesson learnt from my experience is that if you wish for a fine implementation, technically elegant with ease of use, then you can bank on Apple! When you are being guaranteed quality of experience, why the heck would you say no?

AirPlay is AirTunes (for all kinds of media) bundled in iOS 4.2 coming up in November with Apple TV. It allows streaming of content from any iOS 4.2 device and Mac. Not only that, you can also stream music to big third party audio makers such as Denon, Marantz, Bowers and Wilkins, JBL and iHome. Denon and iHome have already announced that they would be releasing support for Airplay. Hmm, why does it always have to be Apple to come into the market and do things right?

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20 Responses to “DLNA vs Airplay”

  1. Is DLNA freely licensed?

    Going through an open std process?

    How many mobiles run qualified, reliable DLNA stacks? Among the major 2.2 Android devices?

    Is Android 2.1, 2.2, DLNA supporting?

    How many living room devices are DLAN capable?

  2. Yes actually, the new HTC and Motorola Droid phones support DLNA.

    But if it’s true that AirPlay is faster than DLNA, I’m very disappointed. I prefer the open standard because it means wider compatibility for consumers – people that pop over your place don’t need to have the same Apple devices to show content or play audio.

    I hope a new specification of DLNA can come out to ensure compatibility with that same level of performance.

  3. nice artilce – i dig this blog

  4. It’s not correct to say that AirPlay out performs DLNA at all. DLNA generally uses HTTP as a transport protocol for streaming media, and so the performance is really only limited by the bandwidth of your LAN. Now, that’s not to say that it isn’t possible to write a rubbish implementation of the HTTP protocols in a given device or software package, but the same is also true for AirPlay. From experience I’ve seen several HD movies stream simultaneously with DLNA on the same network, so I’d like to understand exactly what is meant by “AirTunes blinds MediaLink in performance”. In the example from Apple Girl, I’d suggest that any lag in starting the stream was actually down to the implementation in the PS3.

  5. AppleGirl, if you want to recap history you should do it right. In no way Apple invented media streaming. DLNA is around since 2003 and today there are 245 companies following the standard….all but Apple. I recomend everyone to look at http://www.dlna.org.
    If you don’t believe that standards are good for us,consumers, then you are obviously not in the same page than the rest of the world. DLNA is there for a while, before Apple came into the picture. DLNA works nicely with thousands of devices from many manufacturers. That’s enough reason for them to join the world.
    Apple, once again, wants to go on their own. Fine. that’s their choice, but dont confuse people here. There is a whole World out there, the majority BTW, which is not under the iDictatorship .
    What’s next? creating their own i-HTTP protocol???
    Come on Apple, listen to the crowd.

  6. DLNA is rubbish. Bought a Denon stereo with built-in DLNA. Selecting tracks is slow and cumbersome due to the non-stop lookups between the DLNA client and DLNA server. You need a third party DLNA server on your computer because codec support is restricted and you need to transcode. All the third party DLNA servers look like amateurs wrote them over a weekend. I tried (no joke) 9 different DLNA servers and all of them felt like junk. Trying to browse an extensive (16,000+) library with an infrared remote is simply painful. Try to fast-foward a track and it pauses (for ages) or delivers static. Total garbage.

    AirPlay on the other hand is beautiful. Pick up the iPad, browse albums, cover artwork, fast-scrolling lists, instant feedback, etc. The iPad is the best interface for music selection. AirPlay bridges the gap between the iPad and the stereo. DLNA can go take a flying leap. It’s dead to me.

  7. What are you talking about Jason? I run widows 7 and share everything except mkv to my ps3. No codecs no transcoding. Dlna is not the problem. Device codec support is the problem, and easily fixable by device makers. In fact I would say that in my experience I have shared more on dlna than I have using my iTunes home media sharing, because iTunes doesn’t like all my Media.

  8. I bought a Samsung 40 inch C5000 tv, and i was initially impressed by the possibilities of dlna. After using samsung’s horrible server software and finding that other software didn’t work with my tv and experiencing the stability and file compatibility problems the tv has for over 6 months now, all I can say is:

    DLNA is horrible, horrible, horrible!

    Samsung needs to get working on fixing their software!!!!!!!!!!

    The only upside i’ve had is watching a lot of Star Trek episodes. I hope Samsung will add better subtitle support in the future (MKVs etc.)

    At the moment the only sane option is an HTPC…

  9. When will people get this: it’s not DLNA that’s rubbish/has a poor UI/etc its the kit you’re buying that’s poor. DLNA is JUST a collection of technical protocols which underpin that ability for various pieces of consumer electronics to talk together. It doesn’t define a UI, and also only mandates a small collection of codecs that certain devices have to support.

    DLNA can be used as a transport to discover media servers which can be loaded up with pretty much any content type. Whether that will play on a given piece of hardware is down to the codec support in the player.

    Apple on the other hand actually only supports a tiny number of media formats, and is able to offer a slick user experience because (a) they require you to buy all the kit from them so you have no choice, and (b) they force you to use these formats (like MP4 for video) regardless of whether you’d rather store and stream everything in another format.

  10. I love the evangalistic tones of subjects like this…

    DNLA is great because it is a standard. It’s terrible because anyone can create hardware/software combos to that standard, and they won’t always work well together.

    Ironically, Apple is now the closed system/proprietary player on the market – and that certainly irritates those of us who’d like to blend our Apple gear with the rest of our stuff. On the plus side, since they control all the hardware and software, it is a controlled environment and typically works more simply – it’s just a matter of reducing the variables.

    You take the good with the bad…

    • Problem here is that a closed protocol implemented and controlled by a specific vendor is being compared against various implementations of an open “Standard”. DLNA is a standard, HTML is also a standard. If a certain poorly designed browser has problems in displaying web pages, would you say HTML standard itself is inferior? I have been using my Xbox as a media receiver, combined with my laptop as DLNA server and most of the media plays without any issues. I also use iMediaShare app to seamlessly play internet media from my Android onto my Xbox. It depends on the reading a bit on which DLNA player/server devices to use which provide most of codec support. Of-course, one can always throw away more money for inferior iDevices which only work with other iDevices and beyond that any cross platform media support is available only with costly products made by big companies as mentioned by the Apple Girl. If however, you are a tech-savvy person with sensible spending strategy, you’d find DLNA supporting devices better any day.

  11. DLNA does not suck. It is fine if you want to stream music and view some pictures from Android devices. However, it is limited in functionality. Airplay will allow wireless video mirroring from an iOS5 device to a big screen. NO DLNA device by ANY Android brand of tablet can do this now or in the future. Honestly, who care about openness crap (other than technical geeks). People want to do be able to do cool things simply rather than rely on technical crap like codecs or the “correct” implementation of the technology.

    • If playing video wirelessly is cool, please give iMediaShare for Android a try. I have been using it since a while now. its free, very simple and works amazingly well with any DLNA Renderer device (both my XBOX 360 and my media player). Carelessness about technology leads to ignorant assumptions and decisions. If you want to buy iDevices, buy them, but please don’t give “who cares” excuses on a tech forum which discusses pros and cons of two technologies.

    • DLNA protocol do not need to think about that functionality.

      What you want are more functionalities IN the drivers/layers/devices which parse and output graphical information over certain media.

      In your use case one would better do some VNC/RDP. Or wait for a DLNA server which serves live “FRAP” streams – totally possible.

  12. I hate how quickly people forget history. If we only learned from history and not made the same mistakes over and over again.
    The reason why Apple created AirPlay is not to make anybody’s life easier but they did it for money and money only.
    I usually have a tendency to root for the little guy. So in the past when Microsoft domination was all the rage I was rooting for Apple and the like, screaming that Microsoft built a system that is trying to fully control, keep others out or at least limit independent ideas, steal ideas from others and make it look like their own and in general it is bad for consumers when one company dominates the market because they are trying to capitalize on this at the expense of other companies and consumers in general.
    Now, does this remind you of something? Now, Apple is no longer a little guy, quite the opposite, so what are they doing? They are using the same model to make more money. Take ideas from others, turn them into their own proprietary products (touch screen, phone, ICloud, AirPlay, etc), then they sue every potential competition threat for patent infringements. Everybody talks about how this or that stole from Apple but nobody even mentions the settlement between Apple and Nokia where Apple will be paying Nokia royalties for years to come. Of course settlement does not say Apple admits they stole anything from Nokia but that what the settlements are about.
    I would not be surprised that if AirPlay takes off big, they will try to prove it was their idea in the first place and try to shut down DLNA with baseless lawsuits.
    People have to wake up and realize that the only reason (besides cheap manufacturing in China) for all our gadgets to become better and cheaper every year is free competition and innovation and not closed proprietary systems.

  13. For 40 years I’ve been in electronics: “The market sets standards.”


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