A lot of DLNA enabled products are hitting the market these days.  LG just announced a DLNA capable PHONE (yes, a mobile phone) called the Optimus 7 and, of course, there are a lot of TV’s and storage products out there already…with many more to come.

If you’re not familiar with DLNA, you can take a look at the consortium’s web site here.  The Digital Living Network Alliance is a group of 245 electronics manufacturers that are developing products that interoperate over standard network protocols.  The standards developed by the group define several classes of devices that serve some function in an entertainment system – things that serve content (from some internal or connected media), things that render content, things that display or print content, etc.  The idea being, of course, that your DLNA enabled TV will be able to find DLNA servers (Blu-Ray player, media server, and yes, even a mobile phone) on your home network and display content that they deliver.

And, this has all been in development since 2003 with little attention from consumers.

A typical scenario would be that you have some content on your home network, say on a DLNA enabled NAS (network attached storage) device (LG and others have them on the market now).  So, you’d use your DLNA enabled TV or media player  to access the NAS and play the selected content…similar to streaming movies from Netflix.

So, let’s say you go to the trouble of ripping your DVDs and BluRays and put the content on your big NAS on your home network.    And, now you want  to enjoy your content on your mobile device (phone, tablet, PC) when you’re NOT at home.  You’ve got two problems:  one is just getting access to the NAS behind your firewall, and when you do set that up, you’ve still got an upstream bandwidth problem.   The bandwidth from your home to your ISP is almost certainly less than 1mb/s.

I suppose you could opt for a Pogoplug device (you’ve heard of this, right?) to provide access, but it doesn’t appear to support DLNA, and you still have the upstream bandwidth problem.

Another issue with this local NAS approach is that you really need to backup all that content.  It would be a shame to have to rebuild your media library from scratch if you lose the NAS drive.

So, why not put all your media up in the cloud?  If you ask Pogoplug, they’ll say it costs too much.  Maybe…maybe not.  We’ll come back to that.

What if you had a NAS with no internal storage?  Just a small box that plugs into your network and provides a DLNA interface to some amount of storage out on one of the cloud storage services.  Couple that with software “servers” that can run on mobile devices (or even on routers, media servers, etc.) and you have universal access to your media library no matter where you are…and without having to deal with the slow pipe from home to the web…and no worries about backups…and with the potential to share your library with others.

Now…the cost issue.  How is it that Backblaze can provide unlimited storage for $5 per month?  You’ll have to check out their blog to get that answer, but the point is storage is cheap (or can be) and will get cheaper.  At some point, the price will be low enough that consumers will be willing to subscribe to an easy to use service that does not require them to play network admin to setup and maintain.