TwonkyMedia Server Add-In Walkthrough

Although news of the various releases of TwonkyMedia Server have been picked out here at WGS, we’ve yet to walk through the installation of the add-in.  Maybe it is because the purpose of the add-in is not clear, maybe it is because those with the HP MediaSmart Server get it by default – either way, the various media server products that come under the Packet Video banner are certainly pervasive in the home marketplace. They even find their way into the various NAS systems now targeting the ‘Storage in the Home’ arena.

What is TwonkyMedia Server then? A definition even makes it into Wikipedia:-

TwonkyMedia server (TMS) is DLNA-compliant UPnP AV server software from PacketVideo. It runs on Macintosh, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Home Server, Windows 7 and Linux. TwonkyMedia server is also available for Android and other mobile platforms. TwonkyMedia server can be used to share and stream media to most UPnP AV or DLNA-compliant clients, in addition to non-UPnP devices through the HTML, RSS, and JSON supported front-ends. After the acquisition of TwonkyVision by PacketVideo, TwonkyMedia was renamed PVConnect, but the name was later changed back to TwonkyMedia server.

We Got Served even awarded TwonkyMedia Server our ‘Best Windows Home Server Software’ Reader Award back in 2008. I struggled a little in searching out a purpose for TwonkyMedia Server for Windows Home Server. It seems to exist to overcome some of the shortfalls of the media streaming services in WHS that come from Windows Media Player 10 and is now available for a range of PCs and NAS devices. Media streaming is an area where technology is changing continually – compatibility changes with new products being released and new standards ratified. Twonky has endeavoured to keep up with these standards and also include support for some products that fall outside recognised media player conformance.

Twonky is really a pair of products with the TwonkyMedia Manager working in conjunction with the Server to allow a level of remote control with compatible Media Players.

To quote Twonky themselves:-

TwonkyMedia manager is open, standards-based software, so you’re not stuck using a particular brand of devices in the home. You can share your media with hundreds of popular devices, including TVs, game consoles, A/V systems, PCs, digital media adapters and mobile devices. TwonkyMedia manager even works with Xbox 360®, Sony PlayStation® 3 and Sony PlayStation Portable.

Generally, TwonkyMedia manager and server work with any TV, game console, A/V system, PC, network-attached storage (NAS) device, digital media adapter and mobile device that is DLNA or UPnP compatible.

When I set out to try TwonkyMedia Server, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had bought a licence through the offer announced before Christmas and downloaded version 5.1.2 together with the associated PDF documentation. I had a couple of devices that I thought could benefit from greater streaming compatibility with WHS, but other than that I was looking for it to jump out and convince me this was a show-stopping tool. As to whether it succeeded, we will come to that later. As the Server product is supplied by itself this walkthrough only covers that element with regard to WHS installation and functionality.

Curiously, Twonky have comprehensive installation and setup notes for a standard Windows install, and for Linux. However any mention of WHS seems to be completely lacking. Thankfully, the installation is totally standard. Download the installer (the usual msi file), copy it into the Add-Ins folder in the Software share on the server and then open up the WHS Console. In Settings, go to Add-Ins and then TwonkyMedia Server will be found in the Available list. Click on Install, allow it to complete and close the Console. On re-opening, you will find some new options.

Twonky provides a status tab

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and a range of options in a tabbed window within settings

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However, there is some very important configuration to complete through web pages served by a built-in web server. This can be accessed by clicking on the ‘Open Configuration Page’ button on the last of Twonky’s settings tabs.

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23 comments

  1. Hi Dave,

    For music, I found Illustrate's Asset *far* superior. Hasn't Twonky ever heard of FLAC?? Illustrate has. Twonky has not. Twonky does not serve straight DVD rips. I guess the deal here is that you have to convert whatever you have to something that Twonky "feels" like serving.

    In case you have not guessed, I have been less than impressed with Twonky. It is a far cry from the "It just works" mode of thinking that DLNA and uPnP wants one to think it does.

    1. Hi Jim, in regards to flac there is no excuse from twonkey. I think straight dvd rips defeat the point of DLNA. DLNA assumes you are streaming media which should be seamless. With straight rips and ISO there is no way to garentee what is in the image is compatible with a given device. It could be a music CD, DVD, Blu-Ray or even a game 0_0. I don't think a DLNA media server should be expected to serve images up.

      1. I fail to understand how a straight rip is not compatible. Are you saying a straight DVD is *not* guaranteed to be combatible? I sort of figured that a DVD should be the definition of compability. Apparently Twonky does not.

        All DLNA means to me (please correct me if I am wrong) is that the DLNA SW has the appropriate codecs. If someone comes out with a new format, as you allude to, DLNA becomes a pipe dream.

        I honestly love the ideas brought forward by DLNA and UPnP. The implementation leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.

        BTW, Twonky lists my kids' Xbox 360s and my Windows 7 machines as Enabled Media Receivers, whatever that is supposed to mean.

        My Linux network media player, which has Twonky on it also, is not listed. Quite strange, don't you think?

        1. Do you mean a rip of vob and ifo files? decrypted or something, in that case yes that should be the definition of a DVD but my PVConnect serves those up fine.

          An image no there is no guarantee it can contain anything.

          1. Yep, decrypted! 🙂 Perhaps PVConnect works fine with those. My NMP works fine also. If you have a DLNA TV, it should be able to read and play that ripped DVD directly. If one cannot do so in WMP with Twonky, I wonder how well Twonky can serve a DLNA TV. Something that I cannot check out, unfortunately.

            I guess my point is that I read a lot of hype on Twonky and see little deliverance with something as simple as PC to PC.

            Being close to the "Show Me" state of Missourri, I have to say: Twonky. show me!

  2. I used a trial version of Twonky for a while since it is DLNA-compliant, where the default media streaming feature of WHS isn't (?). I have a DLNA compliant TV so this would potentially be a great feature. However, I found Twonky not able to show subtitles in ripped DVDs plus it could not play the DVD as a whole. Instead I had to skip to the next file. As a result I concluded Twonky not to be the media software I was looking for. Instead I bought a cheap Asrock ION 330, installed XBMC Live on it, and I'm loving it!!!

    1. I haven't entirely given up on Twonky yet, but the Walk Through does show my disappointment with the product. If I had a DNLA player to hand, I could have possibly been able to identify its purpose more strongly. The comments regarding DVD rips and subtitles are things I found also. Currently, I am finding it easier to make use of playback devices like Media Centre and Xbox 360 that work natively with WHS. It would have been nice to have the PSP as a streaming music player.
      I might give the PVConnect in the Iomega ix2-200 that I have in the garage a comparison.

  3. appreciate the review on Twonky. I've been using it for about a year or 2, it had it's high's and lows. But I never gave up ;-). In general I found it quite easy to get a "default" setup going. I did have some issue's to get it to load iTunes playlists. However once configured it will play along nicely. About the CPU load: I'm hosting a medium sized photo/music library (about 5k each), the server runs on a D510 Atom platform with 2Gb of memory. So far I have no complaints whatsoever on the CPU load, Db rebuilds obviously will generate some load but typycally only for a couple of mins…

    1. Hello vdp,

      I absolutely don't get Twonky to work with my itunes playlists. What settings did you chose to get it to work?
      (Acer H340 – Windows Home Server – Twonky 5 –
      Itunes database located on Server)

      Many thanks in advance for your help.
      Robert

  4. It's a shame, that no custom browsing menus can be created any more with the 5.x versions, unless you're an XML expert and willing to go through some hacking cycles. For me the reason to stick with version 4.4.11 on my WHS (which accepts the 5.X license as well).

    Also I don't need yet another tab in my WHS for controlling it: I just go to http://server:9000/
    and then I can have exactly the same controls.

    The main reason for not switching to Illustrate/Asset, was because I had an issue with the initial version, and never tried hereafter. Agree with Jim, that Asset is in features superior to Twonky.

  5. No, I can't consider it a WHS software only because I can install it through the console and it has a couple of tabs.

    http://server:9000/ ?!? what is that rubbish?!

    WHS comes with its own web server and its own already configured security model.
    No need to install another web server running on another port.

    If it's a whs-software it should fully integrate in whs. full-stop.

    1. 4.4.11 is no WHS software, but runs perfectly on WHS. At least it is a more complete package, compared to the 5.x crap.

      It's being accessed through port 9000. It may not be most user friendly, but it fires up x times faster than the WHS console…

  6. I installed the WHS 5.1 version from the site. It found my many many files. When I tried to play mp3's or video from my Direct TV HR 22 receiver everything had a X by it and refused to play. Its now uninstalled. I would have thought the default install would have at least worked on mp3 files without any tweaking….

  7. After the HP software, Twonky Media was the 2nd piece of garbage software that was removed from my new HP Media Server. It's just awful

  8. Anyone try TVersityhttp://tversity.com/ On WHS I can now play 90 of any audio or video including TV feeds with no conversion what so ever. The product is free for the base product and 40$ for the pro version, after using the base product for only an hour I and being so thrilled with not having to spend countless hours converting all my hidef MKV to H.264/AC3 purchased the pro version.
    Give it a shot, its awsome!
    MrEthiopian

  9. Anyone try TVersityhttp://tversity.com/ On WHS I can now play 90 of any audio or video including TV feeds with no conversion what so ever. The product is free for the base product and 40$ for the pro version, after using the base product for only an hour I and being so thrilled with not having to spend countless hours converting all my hidef MKV to H.264/AC3 purchased the pro version.
    Give it a shot, its awsome!
    MrEthiopian

  10. Canon 300d customer textbook. I only bought a frequented Canon 300D, and it didn’t avail by a guidebook. Is There anywhere I could perhaps might download this? Or possibly are a web site with tips?

  11. Despite what anyone think, I've looked for quite awhile at an app that would enable DLNA devices to see my server running Windows Server 2003. It's a fairly old server and cannot support 2008 but it has my massive CD collection digitally stored and my photos. Having a Sony STR-DA5300ES, my intent was just to get a HTPC to add to my Home Theatre. However, my receiver was recalled and replaced with a STR-DA5600ES which is DLNA compliant. Initially new to the tech, I was overjoyed with the additional feathers this replacement had. I quickly realized that the receiver only saw WMP 12 on my laptop and not the server. After work today, I searched the forums again and came acrossed this program which mentioned Windows PC ans WHS, but not server 2003 or server 2008. So, I figured, what the hell and attempt to install it and it work. My fancy receiver can see the music, videos, and photos on the server. I had no problem with the install or step up. Total time was less than 30 minutes from download to install to operation. AWESOME! The only problem I have is that it I need to know how it displays cd covers. The WMP hidden files are present but the player won't make use of them or DL from internet.

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