Thank you both.
I guess I forgot to mention an important element: The idea is to stream my pc contents to the TV via the Blu-Ray player (and the WD TV Live Hub Media Center, if I choose to buy it). The Sony handles a lot of file types, and so does the WD, but neither is all inclusive. Additionally, from what I've read so far (and I admit I'm a bit confused) certain file types will only play from certain storage (on either the Sony or the WD). In other words, I might be able to play mkv and mp4 from an attached USB drive, but not wmv or avi...just for example. Or I might be able to play other file types that I've burned as data to DVD-Rom that won't play via a connected USB drive, and yet other file types that will play only via DLNA streaming from my computers, etc. And with the WD, perhaps certain files will play only if stored on its own internal HDD. I dunno.
That's why I figured I'd need to run DLNA--in order to play more file types (and to be able to transcode on-the-fly, when and if needed).
Matt, you mentioned network sharing...I assume you mean in order to access content from both pcs as well as all external hdds on my laptop. I do that already with mapped drives. But am I missing something? Is there some way that network sharing can allow me to play all my files through either the Sony or the WD onto my TV, without the need for DLNA? This is an old widescreen Sony Wega tube tv, 36" I think--beautiful picture even though it only handles 720p/1080i, to my eyes better than the plasmas and lcds I've looked at, and due to its age, there's no networking (but it does have HDMI). Does that factor in?
I agree, Matt, that the online extras are no big deal, but it's good to know they're not a bandwidth hog. Also thanks a lot for letting me know I'll get better quality with Netflix streaming on the WD as opposed to the BD player. Netflix streaming IS one of the things I'm doing, and I might venture into VuDu and Amazon.
And can you tell me what's lousy about DLNA?
I'm currently using a bit of software called PS3 Media Server, in order to get my XBOX 360 to play all my files onto the tv. It's not bad, but with these new buys, I'm hoping to use the XBOX less. It puts out a lot of heat, and more importantly the GUI sucks in my opinion.
Axl330, wired connectivity is practical for me. My lan connection gives me 100Mbps, but wireless only gives me 50 something. Now, even though my Comcast line speed is something like 10Mbps, which theoretically shouldn't even come close to meeting the lan or wifi specs, I do in fact get about half the data transfer rate when moving files around via wifi. So it's for that reason that I've always gone wired. The only wireless device I'm using other than my iPod Touch is a Canon printer, and that's just fine--little demand there.
I like both your suggestions, but they're way more than I'm looking to spend. If I need a new router at all, I'm looking in the $40 ballpark. Found a couple on Amazon, both of which are dual band, but I don't know if I even have anything that can utilize the 5ghz, and if that only applies to wifi, which I probably won't end up using anyway.
With more and more devices, I do have the need for more ethernet ports on a router. Mine has 4, and I'm probably going to need 6 for the time being. In the future, who knows.
To recap, in case I've made this overly complicated:
Want to be able to play just about every video file type under the sun from my home network devices, and have them show on the TV. And to free up HDD space, I'll be offloading a lot of this stuff to DVD-Roms, and some to USB flash drives.
Curious why DLNA gets a bad rap, and if there is actually an alternative for me, such as the network shares (which I'd really need explained to me, because I can't picture how that applies to being able to watch this stuff on the TV, unless that's something that can be setup in the BD player or the WD...but even if that's the case, since I don't think every file type is supported by either of these new devices, I'm still assuming I'll need to run DLNA).
And with this new info in mind, do I really need a new router at all? If I do, is there one out there that will meet my needs, as well as have 6 or more ethernet ports.
Again, if more info is needed, please ask.
Really appreciate the responses and the help!