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I am running minidlna and using a Sony blue ray player to view mkv's. I am aware it is the clients side that shows the jpgs for the videos which do not work on the Sony's. But is there a way to view the video list in a block form like Netflix or Hulu does instead of a vertical column?
No, that's defined entirely by the client. All we do is send a list of all the items in XML form.
My Sony TVs all have this option. It's useful when scrolling through thousands of artists.
I suggest you hit the options button when looking at a the listings, then look for 'view as list' and 'view as icons' (or something very similar) in one of the options sub-menus.