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As a PlayStation 3 owner who made copious use of the DLNA functionality to stream media to the console, I was disappointed when Sony announced the PlayStation 4 without the same media features. It was perplexing at the time, as Microsoft’s Xbox One was making very strong pushes to becoming the center of your entertainment once more, and included just about every media feature the Xbox 360 had as well. Well, Sony has finally come through for its fans and has added a new media player feature to the latest PS4 firmware. Media Player, creatively named, will be available to download from the PlayStation Store as an app starting today.

The announcement was made off-the-cuff in a pre-show segment on Sony’s E3 stream and in a blog entry on Sony’s website. One thing to note about this announcement is that while the app makes the PS4 DLNA-capable, it probably won’t ship like this out of the box for some time. To advertise DLNA functionality on a product box requires a license from the DLNA foundation of which Sony is a member, so it is likely that the PS4 will only become officially DLNA-capable with the launch of a new refresh of the console, which is expected to be announced later this year at the Paris Game Show (since this is the first year that Sony is skipping Gamescom).

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The Media Player app will work with your existing DLNA streaming servers, so that means anyone using the PS3 Media Server, or Plex, or even Windows Media Player, will be able to stream media straight to their PS4. The app also will read media from USB storage devices attached to the PS4, but not any media stored on the hard drive locally. That limitation might be because of the PS4’s habit of installing almost every game to the hard drive, making media storage on the PS4 a bad idea if you want to pop in a game without worrying about how much space is left from your media storage.

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The Media Player also works with music, which can be played in the background even while a game is running. It can also run slideshows of your photos, so you can show off those vacation photos to your family in the lounge without having to whip out a notebook or phone and hook it up using HDMI. If you look at the screenshot above this one, there is mention of a “generic mass storage” device, which would be how devices like phones and tablets will pop up when plugged into the PS4 to access the internal SD card or phone storage. Pretty neat.

Sony might add more functionality later on as this is an app separate to the PS4 firmware, so updates to add in new capabilities will become available later on. This will be particularly important in the shift to media using the H.265 codec, which is required for streaming 4K content, as H.265 makes improvements to bandwidth requirements and compression quality. The GPU inside the PS4 is also HEVC capable, so that will probably come later as well.

As for file formats supported by the media player, here’s what will work on it thus far.

Video formats supported by Media Player

MKV:

  • Visual: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC High Profile Level4.2
  • Audio: MP3, AAC LC, AC-3 (Dolby Digital)

AVI:

  • Visual: MPEG4 ASP, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC High Profile Level4.2
  • Audio: MP3, AAC LC, AC-3 (Dolby Digital)

MP4:

  • Visual: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC High Profile Level4.2
  • Audio: AAC LC, AC-3 (Dolby Digital)

MPEG-2 TS:

  • Visual: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC High Profile Level4.2, MPEG2 Visual
  • Audio: MP2 (MPEG2 Audio Layer 2), AAC LC, AC-3(Dolby Digital)

AVCHD:

  • .m2ts, .mts container support

Photo:

  • JPEG (based on DCF 2.0/Exif 2.21)
  • BMP
  • PNG

Music file support:

  • MP3
  • AAC
  • M4A

I’m definitely going to be trying this out tonight, and probably writing up a guide to do DLNA streaming inside your home as well. It is a supremely useful thing to have in your home network and I’m glad that Sony is finally supporting it properly. MKV container support is also quite important, since a lot of people use that container to cut down on file sizes while maintaining decent levels of compression and artifacting. Unlike the PS3, which required real-time conversion for container formats that it didn’t support, streaming MKV media to the PS4 won’t require conversion of the audio or video, which drops the hardware requirements on a home file server that streams media considerably.

Source: PlayStation blog