Twonky: Do you need Twonky?
Why is it Called Twonky?
A long time ago, a television named Twonky came to life and began doing things that even modern televisions can only imagine. The ambitious device washed dishes, played cards, and even drove a car. Eventually little Twonky tried to take over the household. It didn't end well.
By the way, all this took place in a Black and White sci-fi comedy film that was released in 1953. Don't be afraid. Modern technology loves you and only wants to serve humankind. Pretty much.
Modern twonky technology is much more cooperative, but the original unpredictable Twonky may come back to haunt you if you're not careful. We'll expose more about that later.
Do you need it? If you're reading this, then you probably do.
Twonky helps your digital devices play together and share with each other. Your digital devices include your phones, cameras, DVRs, televisions, gaming systems, computers, digital photo frames, and (perhaps) your appliances. Twonky can use your wireless network and other technologies to interconnect this stuff so your photos, music, and videos can play all over the place.
What do you need to run Twonky?
Look for DLNA-enabled devices. These devices will be able to hop onto your wireless network and listen for messages from sympathetic devices throughout your house.
What is DLNA?
DLNA represents a series of standards that allows digital devices to communicate. When shopping, look for a "DLNA-enabled" or "DLNA Certified" sticker on the hardware or on the packaging.
DLNA, or Digital Living Networking Alliance, involves a collaboration of many leading hardware and software manufacturers.
Essentially, DLNA describes how a media player can expect to receive files from storage devices. The media player, such as a TV, digital picture frame, or Internet radio, already knows how to play multimedia files.
A standard communication protocol allows hardware from multiple manufacturers to interact. Your PC or X-Box already has a storage device, typically a hard drive or a flash drive. Your TV already has a wonderfully large screen that can be shared by everyone in the room. Connecting the storage device with the playback device can be problematic without a communication standard that is common to both devices. Instead of copying files onto a flash drive, then manually installing then onto the playback device, DLNA describes how that can be accomplished over your existing wireless network.
What DLNA Devices Exist?
it's a little complicated, but the DLNA standard defines many categories of devices:
- Digital Media Server (DMS): These hardware devices such as personal computers, smart phones, and game players, store multimedia content in your house.
- Digital Media Player (DMP): These hardware devices locate content on your digital
media servers (DMS) and provide present them for you. Televisions and internet radios are examples.
- Digital Media Renderer (DMR): These hardware/software devices receive content from a digital media controller (DMC), which will find content from a digital media server (DMS), and convert it to a format that can be played. A DMR is usually also a DMC, but not always. For example, a television will act as a DMP and also a DMR.
- Digital Media Controller (DMC): These hardware/software devices search for content on digital media servers (DMS) and present it to digital media renderers (DMR). Examples include Internet tablet computers, Wi-Fi network-enabled digital cameras and some smart phones.
- Digital Media Printer (DMPr): These hardware devices allow you to print on your DLNA compatible home network. Generally, digital media players
(DMP) and digital media controllers (DMC) with print capability can
print to DMPr devices. For example, you might install a photo printer or a networked printer that connects to your home router.
Twonky: There's an app for that
Twonky mobile allows you to send multimedia from your portable digital device (your phone) to other devices in your house. All you need is a wireless network and hardware that is Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) compatible. You can shoot video with your phone, then beam it wirelessly to your television.
An Android app is ready for download in the Android Marketplace.
Twonky is Sweet and Suite
Multiple components comprise the Twonky suite.
- TwonkyBeam connects your internet browser to your television. Free add-ons are available for Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. Mac users, please don't feel left out. If you're currently using Safari, simply visit Mozilla.org and download a free copy of Firefox. You can run both Safari and Firefox on your Mac.
- TwonkyServer provides a centralized location for retrieving and distributing all your videos, music, and pictures. Install the program on your Windows PC (or Max or Linux box) and use it to send infotainment to wireless-enabled devices such as televisions, internet radios, and even digital picture frames. This software scans your storage devices and presents a user-friendly way to browse all of them at the same time, regardless of where they are stored. Instead of transferring files manually with flash drives or making multiple copies on several devices throughout your home, use TwonkyServer to show you everything through one convenient screen.
- TwonkyManager gives you powerful software tools for managing your multimedia collections. You can even access your ITunes collection and your playlists. Search everything on every device from one simple screen.
Cheap and Easy
All this capability must be extremely expensive, right?
Not at all. Twonky products cost very little. When compared to the convenience they add to your digital life, they represent a huge bargain. TwonkyManager and TwonkyServer each cost less than 20 dollars. TwonkyBeam is free as an add-on to your Internet browser.
If your primary computer runs Windows, then purchase Twonky Manager: it comes with Twonky Server. If you use a MAC, purchase TwonkyServer until TwonkyManager becomes available for your operating system.
Where'd it come from?
PacketVideo, or PV, is a San Diego-based company that created Twonky. They've been around since 1998, producing wireless solutions for consumers and brand-name manufacturers.
What Could Go Wrong?
Sharing is great, but not everything should be shared. Privacy still counts for something. Should you walk into a DLNA-enabled household with your smart phone, think twice about dropping your phone onto their network. Be sure you thoroughly understand what multimedia files will be available to the servers in the house.
Software is considered 'friendly' when it makes reasonable assumptions for the user. Software vendors work hard to configure their products to be easy to use but sometimes ease of use becomes intrusive: clicking on the 'transfer all' button may beam your personal photos and videos into the DLNA network without your knowledge. Be careful!
Twonky, or any other file-sharing software, is not programmed with a conscience. Protecting your privacy is always your responsibility. Like the original Twonky television, always keep an eye on your appliances.
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