DLNA stands for the fairly non-descript 'Digital Living Network Alliance' but it's a subset of UPnP (Universal Plug and Play).
DLNA stands for the fairly non-descript 'Digital Living Network Alliance' but it's a subset of UPnP (Universal Plug and Play), a group of protocols designed to enable compliant devices to locate each other over a network and share media without the user having to worry about passwords or network protocols.
Most so-called 'smart' TVs support DLNA, but even if you don't have a smart TV, you probably already have a DLNA-capable device you can plug in -- PS3 and Xbox 360 games consoles are DLNA-compliant, as is the WD TV Live and many other network media players.
The trick with DLNA is that like iOS and Live Streaming, you need a DLNA/UPnP server running somewhere on your network where your movies are located. Now there are a few options -- Windows 7 actually supports DLNA streaming through its 'Play to' feature inside Windows Media Player 12. If you want a non-Microsoft free option, TVersity (free but feature-limited) is worth a shot but I prefer Serviio -- it's totally free, runs on Windows, Mac OS X or Linux and has a wide device support list covering TVs, iPhones and the WD TV Live. It'll even handle active streaming with onboard transcoding.
While many smart TVs are basically ARM-based computers bolted onto big LCD panels, DLNA is simple enough to enable more consumer-focused devices like games consoles and compliant Blu-ray players do give you networked media playback. However, in practice, it doesn't always work smoothly, especially if the server doesn't understand which codecs the playback device can cope with. That's why having a DLNA server that understands the playback device's capabilities makes all the difference.
Stream video to an Xbox 360
Download and install Serviio it onto your network server, PC or notebook. Share a folder on your PC that contains your movies and/or music files.
Fire up your Xbox 360 and hook it into your network (either Wi-Fi or Ethernet) via Settings > System > Network Settings.
Launch the Serviio Console on your PC (right-click on the System Tray icon and choose 'Open Serviio Console'). Your Xbox 360 (or PS3) should appear in the Render Profile list. Make sure the render profile says 'Xbox 360'. Select the 'Library' tab, press the 'Add local' button and choose the shared folder with your movie files. Check the five boxes at the end of the new entry line.
On your Xbox, back out of the 'Network Settings' and from the menu, navigate to 'Video > My Video Apps > Video Player'. Your PC and the Serviio server should now appear in the device list on the 'Select Source' screen. Click on it and your shared videos should appear. Click on one and it should play.
Why DLNA is good to have
With DLNA, you can even extend the capabilities of network media players. Here's a quick example: Western Digital's WD TV Live doesn't support FLV videos but it is DLNA-compliant. By dumping your FLV clips into a folder shared with Serviio, your WDTV Live will play them through Serviio's live transcoding feature.