Stands for "Universal Plug and Play." Plug and Play describes devices that work with a computer system as soon as they are connected. UPnP is an extension of this idea that expands the range of Plug and Play devices to networking equipment. Universal Plug and Play uses network protocols to allow a wide range of devices to be interconnected and work seamlessly with each other.
UPnP devices can be connected via wired (i.e. Ethernet and Firewire) or wireless (i.e. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) connections. As long as a product supports UPnP, it can communicate with other UPnP devices within a network. The connections are typically created using the DHCP networking protocol, which assigns each connected device a unique IP address.
While UPnP is helpful for setting up networks, it also can be used to set up compatible audio and video (AV) devices. UPnP AV is a group of standards based on UPnP that allows audio and video components to be connected via network connections. This enables media files and streaming data to be sent between devices. For example, a movie stored on a hard drive in a bedroom could be played back on the TV screen in the living room. The central controller of a UPnP AV network is called a MediaServer and can be run from a Macintosh, Windows, or Linux computer or from a hardware device specifically designed to manage the network.
Since most UPnP devices support zero-configuration setup (like ordinary Plug and Play devices), it is simple to add devices to a network and use them immediately. While the networking terms associated with UPnP can be a bit intimidating, setting up a UPnP network is meant to be hassle-free ? and that is a term we can all appreciate.