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UPnP isn't all really that universal

02/17/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

Recently I got my hands on a Freecom MusicPal, a rather cool little internet-radio aware alarm clock. I'll probably get around to writing a review once I've had it running for a few weeks and worked through its idiosyncracies.

When I decided on it, one of its features that grabbed my attention was that it could stream music from UPnP servers. As one of my intents was to stop dedicating a computer to acting as a server (required so far for Radio Adam as well as the earlier Creative Soundblaster Wireless) and take advantage of dedicated hardware such as that in the DLink DNS-323, this sounded great.

Yeah. It's not that easy. The MusicPal finds the server and reads the file listings from it. But it won't play any music. Other than references to DLNA compliancy issues, I can't find any reason for this. So much for UPnP being plug'n'play...

Anyway, as the MusicPal doesn't understand iTunes servers I can't even use one of the existing servers to drive it. The only answer I've found so far is to buy yet another server: in this case, I went for Allegro Media Server which is a third party implementation of a UPnP server that uses an existing iTunes install to drive its data source. The principal positive here is that it works: the MusicPal happily streams music from it. The downside is that every time a change is made or the server is restarted, it rescans the full iTunes library and has to complete doing so before it'll go live. With small media library and a fast server I'm sure this is a minor issue but on my old Mac Mini and the full MP3 collection, that's a 15 minute activity.

Still, it all works even if it wasn't what I originally wanted. I'd love to know why it doesn't seem to like the DNS-323's UPnP implementation though.

(Update (2008/02/18): A suggestion from Dale points me to Robert Green's DIY site which includes a handy chart of all the current UPnP DNLA servers out there.)


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