I spent the last couple of weeks configuring my RT-N16 as a DLNA server so my new XBox 360 Slim could, acting as a DLNA client, play all my files stored on my (also new) 2TB external HDD attached to the RT-N16. Here's a brief summary of my findings. Note that this was all done :
- RT-N16 was extremely easy and quick to setup for this purpose (no surprise here). Because of various issues highlighted below, I did suspect the DLNA support built into the firmware on numerous occasions but it worked without any problems. The router log files, by the way, are a great way to look for any problems.
- Even my brand spanking new XBox 360 Slim (released in Nov 2010) required the "Optional Media Update" from Microsoft to play the H.264 MP4 files I had encoded using Nero.
- The XBox is picky about what it will list! I had a few MPG video files (created by ripping my DVDs to one large MPG file with the intent to retain full DVD video and audio quality) that the XBox would not list even after I renamed them. After a lot of looking into the router for possible issues, I installed the Moovida Media Center (formerly Elisa, I think) on my Ubuntu 10.10 setup which also acts as a DLNA client and was able to see all files from my HDD listed here. So, I suspect, the XBox is actually looking at the media file header or something to determine if it is compatible. In summary, one cannot stream non-transcoded DVD videos on the XBox 360 Slim despite some web sites out there claiming that this works.
- The XBox does play some of my H.264 MP4 files but not some others. I am guessing there is some bit-rate issue at play here given it looks like the lower bit rate (900kbps) ones are playing while the higher bit rate ones (1.2Mbps) are not. I need to do some further research to figure this out but it goes against the specs I found elsewhere on the web. And, all my MP4s were transcoded with 5.1 channel audio.
In short, my dream of ditching my HTPC in favor of the XBox to stream full quality DVDs is now officially squashed :-(. I may look into buying another appliance (Boxee Box, Roku or some other) or transcode all my DVDs into WMV HD given XBox supports that, but that is not where my heart is.
Hope this helps anyone looking to achieve a similar goal.
By the way, I dropped the idea of buying a more expensive NAS in favor of using my 2TB HDD plugged into a Tomato-based RT-N16 and I am so loving it! Fewer pieces of equipment, simpler setup and lower power requirements coupled with a tonne of money saved created a win-win situation for my requirements :-). Thank you TeddyB!