What is a digital lifestyle?

I was talking to a friend and was really surprised to learn that my friend, usually someone I see as a tech guru, didn’t know that he could use his PS3 as a media streaming device and it occurred to me that he might not be alone with this. This blog might help to explain this technology to others and possibly even give people a new way to enjoy their digital content.

For many of us the technology we have around us tends to be used for very specific reasons, games consoles for playing games, TVs, PDAs, laptops and PCs all have their own uses too. I won’t go in to too much detail (I don’t want this blog to be too long) but I’m sure you are all familiar with items I have just mentioned. Some of you might also have digital cameras, digital video cameras, MP3 players, iPod Touch, iPad, Android tablets and even network attached storage (NAS) devices. This blog is about how all of those devices can be made to work with the other devices to make it easier for you to enjoy your content from anywhere in your home and with some content anywhere with an internet connection. This concept is often described as living a digital lifestyle, I hope this will show those of you who don't know what that is, how you can get this for yourselves.

This is made possible with a concept developed by DLNA who are the Digital Living Network Alliance, “a global collaboration of 245 of your most trusted brands, all working together to help you create the home entertainment environment you’ve always imagined.” They created a set of Interoperability Guidelines that first appeared in June 2004 and then updated this to version 1.5 in October 2006 at which time they also defined a DLNA certification program that ensured all manufacturers complied before being awarded DLNA recognition.

Rather than explain DLNA I will embed some videos so I can talk about other features instead.

  

  

  

  

There are a number of devices that can make use of the DLNA, most relevant to the GiantBomb community are the gaming devices. The PS3 supports all of the DLNA features while the Xbox 360 supports Microsoft’s Windows Media PC standards making it possible for Xbox 360 owners to enjoy many of the features.

What I really like about DLNA is that increasingly more and more devices are being brought into the market with DLNA built in, many new TVs have a network connection on the back such as Samsung, LG and Panasonic.

This is great as we now have a means to access our content that could be stored on the hard drive inside our laptop or gaming PC, however this does mean that we need the laptop or PC on which the content is stored to be switched on at the time so it’s not as convenient as it could be. So there are also devices that make it easy to store the content and access it without having to get up to start the laptop or PC up. Here’s 3 starting with the WD My Book World drives , Seagate Freeagent GoFlex Home  and the NETGEAR Stora (Home Media Network Storage drive, this is the drive I use).

Excellent, a step forward, but we still need to connect our media playing device to the network, while wireless connections are ok for most things trying to get a continuous HD or Blu-Ray media stream over a wireless connection will result in a lot of buffering, not really ideal when you just want to sit back and enjoy that holiday video you have stored on your network drive. I use PowerLine products to overcome this issue, it is just like using a normal network cable only it doesn’t require network cables to be installed at great expense. Instead PowerLine converts your network output into an encrypted RF feed that is carried in the electrical cables running through your home. Here are 3 examples Devolo , NETGEAR ( ) and Western Digital .

So now you can have your content stored, streamed to a device that’s connected to a TV or a few devices connected to a few TVs around your home you can say that you are living in a truly digital home. There is more though as there are devices that can combine the function of a network hard drive with the media player to give you something like this Western Digital media hub which not only gives you full access to all of your stored content, a hard drive to store the content itself but also gives you access to live services such as YouTube, Pandora, Facebook, Netflix and Blockbuster on demand.

If you have read all this and enjoyed or learnt something please share what you think, as I said at the start the purpose of the blog was just to highlight some ways in which we could enjoy a more digital lifestyle and these are some things that I have found quite a few people didn’t know about so I wanted to share it with you all.

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