updated 11:55 pm EDT, Mon March 21, 2011
We try MiFI DLNA media sharing
Novatel confirmed on Monday -- accidentally, as it told us -- that it was adding DLNA sharing to MiFi routers. The company gave us a look at the technology on display at the ShowStoppers mini-event for CTIA and gave us a fairly good first impression. Read ahead a quick look.
Starting up DLNA is simple and behaves much like the other apps on a MiFi; that is, it's accessed through the browser. Novatel is clever, though, and streamlines how it works. You can set the DLNA server to start the moment a microSDHC card is plugged in; the trick is convenient and most likely what many would want to do with the card slot if they're not using the MiFi for business alone.
DLNA is mostly format- and OS-agnostic, so it can play whatever music, photos, and video your device supports and whatever app will work in the OS of your choice. We saw the same content (including a video shot just moments earlier) loaded on both a Windows Media Center PC and an iPad, although Apple's lack of DLNA support meant using a third-party app like PlugPlayer. At least in ideal conditions, there weren't any hiccups from asking a router to move that traffic.
It won't substitute for a full home theater, however. Video playback, we were told, was mostly capped at about 480p. HD video was largely off-limits, likely because of the combination of the processor on the MiFi as well as the limits of microSDHC card slots and 802.11n Wi-Fi. We imagine that, with the foot in the door, the next generation of MiFis could break past the 480p ceiling.
AT&T's MiFi 2732s are the first to get DLNA support, but how soon it will start upgrading them to media sharing isn't known, nor is when other carriers might get similar treatment.