DLNA helping devices connect

The Princeton Netbox iTunes media server is DLNA compliant

Amid the dizzying swirl of acronyms that envelops the consumer-technology market, it's pretty easy to lose sight of what products are best suited to one's own needs and to end up buying something wholly unsuitable. One acronym that seems particularly ill understood is DLNA , or Digital Living Network Alliance.

DLNA is actually a pretty simple concept - it's all about providing a standard that will allow digital products from different companies to be compatible with each other for sharing data, whether it's music, video or something else entirely.

In the old days, this was usually a matter of finding square pegs for square wholes and plugging gadgets together, but in the era of HDTV, copy protection and a hundred different wireless standards the importance of making sure devices can talk to each other is obvious. The ' How DNLA Works ' section of the official website is a useful resource for finding out more.

Given that membership of the DLNA includes firms like Sony , Microsoft , Philips , Nokia and Intel , it's reassuring to know that the standard is likely to stand the test of time. Here in Japan, the DLNA logo is already a common site on many new high-definition TV sets, wireless speakers and computers.

One such-certified product is Princeton Japan 's new iTunes media server, the PEC-NAV Netbox. For 18,800 Yen (£82), the Netbox sits in the middle of a home network and, through the magic of DLNA, can communicate with any other such devices and deliver whatever content they request from its hard drive.

The Netbox is being touted as ideal for shifting iTunes music around the house but it can actually serve up video, transfer data files and communicate with connected printers as needed.

The price doesn't include a hard drive - you'll have to add that yourself - and there are concerns about restrictive copy protection that might come with DNLA but the peace of mind of knowing things 'just work' is surely worth most compromises. J Mark Lytle

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