UPnP (Universal Plug and Play – Streaming audio)

The name is a bit of a pun on Plug&Play.

Plug&Play means you plug a device into a computer and it works without any interference from the user.

 

UPnP does the same but this time over the network.

UPnP devices auto-discover each other and exchange there capabilities.

Although not limited to streaming AV, in practice streaming audio and video is where UPnP is about.


The UPnP™ Forum is an industry initiative designed to enable simple and robust connectivity among consumer electronics, intelligent appliances and mobile devices from many different vendors. As a group, we are dedicated to making the connected home and lifestyle mainstream experiences for consumers - and great opportunities for the industry.

Source: http://www.upnp.org/

Of course UPnP has its own nomenclature:


Server: streams the music to UPnP clients in the network,
Renderer: a device with can play the music received from the server
Control Point: the remote control.

 

If you are looking for a UPnP server:

Note: I wrote above lines in 2009.
Today (2013) the situation is much better.
Reliability has strongly improved.
There are many media streamers supporting UPnP/DLNA.

UPnP is incorporated in DLNA.

Today you can also access your media at home over the internet using UPnP.
Unfortunately it is a security risk as you have to open ports in your router.

Windows

XP is UPnP compliant.

XP can be used as a server only,

Vista can be both a server and a client (renderer/control point).

If you enable media sharing in Vista (an option in Windows Media Player) the PC becomes visible as a media player in the network.

 

Win7 and higher is fully DLNA compliant.

OSX

OSX doesn't support UPnP, Apple of course has its own proprietary protocol; Airplay

You need  third party UPnP software on OSX

Android

There are UPnP/DLNA compliant media players for Android.
An option is to use your smart phone as a remote control for your media player.
A couple of examples can be found here.