Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Linux, Bravia and DLNA

I've had the Sony Bravia 52W5150 for a few months now. My wife and I are pretty happy with it (though my wife does most of the TV watching). I initially picked up the TV so my wife could watch the Yankee's games in HD and I like the features and the fact that it used Linux. The overall reviews were pretty good and the price was pretty good. So far I haven't figured out how to get at the Linux but that wasn't unexpected and some of the touted features such as the web browser and web apps (like the iPhone) have not really materialized. In fact the web apps seemed to have fallen off the face of the planet. I did manage to find the documentation but it's written in Japanese, the PDFs are locked so you can't copy the text into a translator and the emulator only runs on Windows XP except it's broken and doesn't even run there. From what I can tell Sony has stopped doing anything with it and the only apps are pretty lame. So basically the network interface is only useful for Sony to get viewing habits (oops, my Tivo messes that up) and upgrading the TV firmware. Wow, what a fluster cluck! The fact that the user menu is so slow and hideous is reason enough that someone at Sony should be shot for that! Great concept but lousy delivery. Overall I give the TV portion a 4.0 (out of 5) as the picture is very good, HD looks great but the user interface to the of the TV options slow. The rest gets a 2 only because the TV portion is so good.

This week I've spent some time working on getting a DLNA server up and running under Linux. The Bravia TV doesn't work with my MediaTomb setup (I have tried my Twonky Server lately). Actually it only partially seems to work with MiniDLNA. It doesn't seem to be a problem with the server but rather the TV. I'm not certain what type of files the TV wants. So far the Bravia only seems to display the MP3 files (all the files show up in the trace). The server is delivering the rest but the Bravia doesn't show them, no photos and no videos. I'm finding this a little frustrating. I might find that I'll have better luck with the new Series 3 Tivo I have. Well we see about that later.

I've started to look at the additional content that the TV has (internet access content) but it's really pretty lame. I watched one 'WIRED' episode and it seemed very amateurish. I've seen kids do better with a web camera and some after school time. CBS jumped into the fray with a number of it's episodes but they're only 3 minute snippets of shows. No wonder Nielson's was quoted as saying that the cutting of the TV cord is not happening. The only one's who've figured this out is companies like Netflix. The rest are sitting back hoping it won't happen and in the process not making money where money is ready to be made.

Update: 2010/06/22 - Just found PyTivo which might do what I'd like and let the Tivo be a UPnP or DLNA like client. I can run PyTivo on my Linux Server and let it handle the transcoding of the various files. I still need to do a bit more homework as at some point I don't want to run a dozen different servers when I only need to run one.


At 6/29/2010 7:21 AM, Blogger Neil Cherry said...

I've been able to finally get some video served from Minidlna to play on the Bravia. I found some sample MPEG2 video (15 seconds clips) that the Linux file command identifies as: "MPEG sequence, v2, program multiplex". Getting the various video formats to convert to MPEG2 has beeen a bit challenging as there are so many options to choose from. More on this later.

At 7/16/2010 2:59 AM, Blogger llaurén said...

Hi Neil!

I've been reading your blog from time to time, so thanks for writing it! But to the point. I had a similar problem with my Samsung tube & DLNA. There are two problems. First, the TV and the DLNA specs are insanely picky about which formats (and combinations of formats) it allows. And second, said formats need to be presented in the DLNA metadata in a way that is above me.

To be fully DLNA compliant, you'll probably get to transcode your video from whatever sensible format your flick is in into something the spec will allow. I have way more faith in UPnP, which DLNA builds upon, though the problem with UPnP seems that it's too sloppy with things.

All in my unresearched, non-academic opinion, of course :)

At 7/16/2010 9:01 AM, Blogger Neil Cherry said...

Hi LLaurén, I agree with your comments. DLNA is quit epicky and UPnP is quite sloppy. I'd like to see MiniDLNA integrated with MediaTomb at least that would support UPnP, DLNA and transcoding. :-)

I was able to convert one of my AVI files to the correct MPEG2 format and then view it on my TV. I have a helmet camera that I used on a long bike ride and it looked and sounded good when I played it on the TV. :-)

Not really sure I want to see the entire ride in it's entirety again. :-) So I'll just edit a version for my web site.

At 7/16/2010 3:50 PM, Blogger llaurén said...

Actually i forgot to add that i "resolved" the problem by buying a small Atom powered PC to my tube and using XMBC on that as my media server and renderer. I feel like a fake :)

The "good news" is that the 1.3T disk space now has run out, so i will "have" to think of a proper home media network solution. Or just buy another external HD...


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