Friday, January 11, 2013

Cut the Cord! A Look at Wireless Gadgets for Home Theaters

If you’re like me, you have moved beyond the charm of speaker wires stapled to the wall or wound around furniture to wire your home theater. Such a method was fine for our first apartments but not for a sophisticated home theater. You could spend precious money or time pushing the wiring through your walls, but if you have neither the money nor skill to do this it can be quite a chore (as the numerous holes in my rec-room walls can attest to).  Lucky for us, numerous manufacturers have come out with wireless home theater gadgets that deliver high quality sound and picture without the pesky wires.

Wireless Speakers – These days, many televisions and home theater components have Bluetooth, WiFi or Airplay capability, and manufacturers are starting to utilize these capabilities. Most of the products in this category, like the Sony RDP-XA900IP are designed to work with small devices like smartphones. Others like the Aperion 5.1 and 7.1 Home theater Systems reviewed by PC Magazine are designed to communicate over a 5GHz band. This is less crowded than the 2.4GHz band that most WiFi and Bluetooth devices use. Right now this technology is available at the $3,000 range, but will likely come down in price as the technology becomes more widespread.

Wireless HD – Many new Blu-ray DVD players and game systems have WiFi connectivity that allows them to stream content and play it on your HD TV. If the unit and TV are connected with an HDMI cable, true HD content can be streamed to the TV. There are also stand-alone units that do the same thing, such as the Roku brand of wireless receivers. These devices also have the capability to stream content from your home computer with a Media app like Plex.

Wireless Projectors – A great alternative to a flat panel television is a projector and screen. This configuration is necessary for screens larger than 70 inches without spending a fortune. Wireless or Smart Projectors use technologies like Airplay and WiFi to stream content and project it on a screen. One of the best known models is the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3010e.  PC Mag reviewed this projector and said that it is one of the few true HD projectors to support WirelessHD.

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