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I am streaming videos in my house via Windows Media Player Streaming, which is basically DLNA. So theoretically any DLNA compliant device can pick up the stream.

However, I've quickly found that this is only one part of the solution. Over the years I've accumulated a ton of video-capable devices. While all these devices can see the Windows Media Player stream, they all speak in different codecs.

And frankly, I am confused by codecs. In the beginning, I thought that the codecs were defined by the filename extension they carried (e.g. avi, mp4, wmv, etc...), but after further research, it looks like the extensions are simply containers. Inside an .avi file could reside several different codecs.

So my question is this: is there a format/codec that plays equally well on any device.

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codec is the format of the video/audio stream. the file extension indicates a container format, which is different, but still requires a device to understand it to be able to play it. eg, even though AVI and MKV can both contain the exact same XviD/MPEG-4 video and MP3 audio streams, one device may be able to handle one but not the other. –  quack quixote Feb 1 '10 at 19:27
    
I have a hard time enough playing multiple video formats on my one computer, I can't imagine trying it on 5+ devices! –  mtone Feb 1 '10 at 19:28
    
The codec question is a good one, however unfortunatly apart from Windows Media PLayer doing the streaming this question is to much a gray area to be allowed. –  Diago Feb 1 '10 at 19:35
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In Future Instead of complaining about why a question is closed, read the comments placed on the question. The fact that the question referenced consoles was the problem, and I stated as much. It would have taken the OP or any other high rep user no more then 2 minutes to change the question to be acceptable as per the FAQ. Leaving the original would have caused a problem when another console game is closed, and this question would have been a reason why it should have been left open. The moderators have enough other questions to deal with and try not to get to involved with a question. –  Diago Feb 2 '10 at 4:57
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there is no easy way of selecting that. Each device you have can play the codec's supported for it, i.e. I have a zune hd, It can't play divix encodes. The best thing you can do is research what codecs each machine can use and then make a compare lists. Also in the future when you decide to replace or add items to your streaming network keep in mind what kind of codecs that device can use.

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