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BW Businessworld

Breaking The Sound Barrier

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Ah, music… whether it be the strains of an old film song or the raw atmosphere of a live concert, music has the ability to break down barriers of culture and geography like little else. Isn't it ironic that for something that's meant to be so liberating, most of our music stays locked away in your computer on gathers dust on your CD racks and is rarely at hand with us in other rooms? Thankfully, there are several ways of freeing your music and enjoying it around your home - take your pick!
But first, ensure your wireless network is up to scratch. If you're currently using a wireless A or B standard router, it can end up being your network's primary bottleneck. What happens is that a router working only on the old standards slows your network's ability to move content from one device to another. Make sure that your router is at least an N-standard model (that is, a dual-band router based on the IEEE 802.11n standard that supports speeds of 300 mbps on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels). If it isn't, buy a new one that is. Why a dual-band router, you ask? It's really very simple - you can use the more crowded 2.4GHz frequency channel to do your everyday work like web browsing, email etc, and reserve the less crowded 5GHz band for music and video, applications that have fast transfer speed requirements.
AirPlay: It's the latest buzz in home entertainment — what AirPlay lets you do is stream music from any iPhone, iPad or PC/Mac running iTunes to one or more AirPlay-compatible speakers, AV receivers or stereo systems. If you're running your tunes off your computer, you can even use the Remote app installed on an iPhone or iPod Touch to control that music from anywhere in the house as well. AirPlay compatible systems have recently started launching in India, such as the Philips DS9800W (Rs. 65990/-) and the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air (Rs. 40,000) among others, but they're still on the pricey end of things.
Airport Express/Logitech UE Smart Radio: A cheaper and more hassle-free solution — it still involves iTunes, though - is the Apple Airport Express (Rs. 7,140) gets you going in no time — just setup the device on your network, plug it into a power socket in the other room and connect it to your speakers or your home-theater amp. You will need one for each room you want to pipe your tunes to, though. A built-in speaker solution is offered by Logitech with its UE Smart Radio ($180), which connects to your Wi-Fi network and lets you stream Internet radio, plus all the tunes stored on your PC. And since it packs in a rechargeable battery, it can go anyplace in your house where you have a Wi-Fi signal.
Sonos: If you want to go all out and look at a professional multi-room solution, Sonos is the one for you. Sonos offers a complete range of devices, including speakers, network bridges and amplifiers that talk to each other and to a central console, and let you stream the same (or different) tracks to different rooms. You can start small with a 1-speaker setup, and add rooms as you go along. Only caveat - no sales/support in India.
The Sonos Range Of Sound Devices

Do you have a Galaxy Tab, a Sony Blu-ray player, a PS3 or an X-Box 360 already? If you do, you already have a home streaming solution courtesy a standard called DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) which allows any PC running a DLNA software to broadcast music to your device (Windows 7 has this functionality bundled). What's more, a growing range of LCD/LED TVs (and most Android phones) now support DLNA out of the box, so if you already have a compatible device, the connections are a cinch, and this could work out to be very cost effective indeed!
Apple TV/Xbox360: If your TV is the center of your entertainment world, an Apple TV will let couch potatoes access all of their PC-based media through iTunes. Granted, this device has severely restricted functionality in India - you can't rent or purchase high-definition flicks from the iTunes store - but it will happily stream music, podcasts, audio books, photos, movies and TV shows. Xbox 360 owners can pick up a wireless network adapter which allows Windows 7 and Vista PCs to stream media over to your console.
Bluetooth Speakers: While they're technically not a streaming solution since they operate under the range limits of Bluetooth devices (instead of using Wi-Fi), you could pick up one if all you need is a no-wires connection between your iPod/PC and your speaker. The Jawbone Jambox and the Bose Soundlink Wireless Mobile speakers come highly recommended.
Home Sharing: Looking for a quick and dirty solution? Turn on Home Sharing in your iTunes library and you can stream your music to any iPad, iPod or iPhone on your home network. Connect them to any speakers and you're set!
In For A Ride
Got a love for adventure and an iPhone at hand? Pick up the Mophie OUTRIDE ruggedised case, which not only protects your device but also serves as a helmet or bicycle mount to record all your zany rides, climbs or bungee jumps. The integrated wide-angle lens with a 170 degree viewing angle ensures that you capture all of that heart-stopping action and epic outdoor moments!

Price: $129

Clean Sweep 
If you're sloppy around the computer (or have kids, for that matter), Logitech's Washable Keyboard K310 makes it easy to clean up all those spills. Simply submerge it into up to 11 inches of water and give it a good scrubbing! It clearly isn't the cheapest or the prettiest keyboard out there, but I can imagine a fair number of folks can see a need for this device!


technocool at kanwar dot net