In the past, sharing your music with the household meant turning up the living room stereo to 11—a gesture the neighbors didn’t always appreciate. In recent years, wireless digital technology has made it possible to pipe your tunes to any room, at any volume (11 is still an option, provided you’re willing to risk the neighbors’ wrath).
Whether you’re engaged in work, chores, spring cleaning, or just want to feed some gentle music into a toddler’s bedroom as the day winds down, there are plenty of easy and relatively inexpensive ways to stream music throughout your house. Here are five.
AppleTV – AppleTV is a handsome little box that lets you stream music (and other media, including video and pictures) from your iTunes account to household televisions. It’s easy to set up, it’s user-friendly, and you can rent or purchase digital movies when the mood strikes. AppleTV is compatible with Macs and PCs.
Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 – Video game consoles like the Xbox 360 and the PS3 have become major media hubs across the past few years. You can use both to wirelessly access media in other rooms of your house, though doing so with the Xbox 360 requires a wireless adaptor, sold separately (the latest model of the Xbox 360 has built-in Wi-Fi).
Sonos Multi-Room System – Sonos’ Multi-Room System pretty much delivers what it promises. Sonos is easy to set up, and you can use it to stream one song through the house—or different songs to different rooms. Sonos’ music menus can even be controlled with your iPhone following the download of a free app.
Rocketfish Wireless Speakers – Rocketfish’s speakers are an easy, cost-effective way to place your household music where you crave it the most. The speakers operate via a wireless transmitter, and plays music from almost any MP3 player.
D-Link Media Lounge – The D-Link Media Lounge is a popular streaming option thanks to its affordability (you can typically find it for under $200 USD) and performance. The Media Lounge can stream music, video, and still pictures.
For more tips on how to stream music throughout your house, read:
How to Stream Audio and Digital in Your Home at DigitalTrends
Make Your House Rock from Any Room at PCWorld
How Can I Stream Music Around my House? at PopSci
So you were an early HDTV adopter back in 2006, and now you’re beginning to feel a little bit of—dare we say it—TV envy. With so many seemingly bigger and brighter high-definition televisions on the market, it’s hard not to picture the market’s best shedding its light in your living room. Step back and think sensibly, though: Is it a necessary purchase? When should you get a new HDTV?
Unsurprisingly, the decision comes down to your personal preferences and needs, though it helps to break down your reasoning before you take the plunge. Here are five things you should consider before you get a new HDTV:
Are you unhappy with your current picture quality? – Are you looking to replace your HDTV simply because it’s “old,” and you think whatever’s out there will provide you with better picture quality? CNet writer Geoffrey Morrison has a simple piece of advice for HDTV shoppers: “As a general rule, if you bought a decent TV in the last few years, the new models will only look a little better. More than five years, and it gets harder to say.”
Morrison goes on to state that measuring picture quality between HDTVs with numbers alone can be tricky, as manufacturers’ “contrast ratio” specs tend to be fabrications, and even measurements from one review site to another can vary. Make things easy on yourself: Go into an electronics store and take a look at what’s on display. Does the picture look sharper? Are you looking to update from 720p to 1080p? Then by all means, grab that new set.
Do you want 3D? – Many movie-goers will argue that 3D has worn out its welcome (again), but the “fad” doesn’t seem to want to go away. 3D movies and video games (which are primarily supported through the PlayStation 3 console) can actually be a lot of fun for kids, so it might not be a bad idea to update your family entertainment center.
Do you want built-in internet streaming? – Even if your HDTV is only a couple of years old, it might be lacking the technology necessary to stream movies and other content directly to your set. If you’re looking for a TV with built-in Internet technology and Wi-Fi support, you might consider upgrading—though it’s not very hard to set up media streaming via your computer and/or game consoles.
Do you just want a bigger TV? – All right, just go ahead and admit it. You want that new 80-inch screen hanging on your living room wall. Congratulations: Admission is the first step to solving a problem. Now complete your treatment with some retail therapy. In fact, you can move your smaller set to a bedroom, or bequeath it on a child deserving of a reward.
Wait for holidays/other major sales – HDTVs can be fun impulse buys (at least until the credit card bill comes in), but reining in your compulsion and sitting tight isn’t the worst idea. Major sales come and go, especially since HDTV technology is evolving briskly. Holding off for a mere month can net you hundreds of dollars in savings.
For more HDTV buying advice, visit:
When Should I Upgrade my HDTV? at CNET
You Bought a New HDTV—Now What? at About.com
Should You Buy a New HDTV Now, Or Wait? at Practical Home Theater Guide
Technology for parents & kids: Hints, tips, online safety strategies & more.
Sure, newborns don’t come with instruction manuals, but there are a number of places online that will attempt to give new parents piece-of-mind when it comes to their little bundles of joy. These 10 best baby products and websites are all valuable resources for moms and dads looking to give little ones their best start. Want to spoil your family’s newest addition? Stop by to check out all:
American Academy of Pediatrics – With information on breastfeeding, immunizations, allergies and more, the AAP website has a variety of helpful tips and in-depth articles from the collective thoughts of the most trusted source available for parents – pediatricians.
American Baby – From the editors of Parents magazine, American Baby features product reviews and articles on subjects many new moms are concerned about, such as natural childbirth, healthy eating and sleep tips. There’s also a great online discussion forum filled with other concerned parents just like you. And, of course, there are always cute baby photo contests going on.
BabyCenter – The BabyCenter website offers easy-to-find sections focused on different phases of the baby’s journey, from tips to getting pregnant to a section dedicated to preschoolers and even big kids. But perhaps the best part of BabyCenter is the weekly e-mail you can sign up for that will send you information about your child’s development in utero and beyond. It’s a must-get newsletter for any expecting parents, even those who have been through it before.
BabyCorner – With a focus on providing support for pregnant and new moms, BabyCorner offers “birth clubs” in which you can easily connect with parents of kids who were born in the same month as yours in order to discuss issues.
BabyZone – Offering tips on getting pregnant, being pregnant, life with a baby and beyond, BabyZone has an active community of moms, and great tools for calculating due dates, finding baby names and even assessing various pregnancy symptoms.
HealthyChildren.org – Although it does offer pre-natal tips, HealthyChildren.org focuses on issues of safety, prevention and healthy living that face kids and families of all ages. Whether you’re looking for timely activities or expert opinions on important topics such as media use, nutrition, immunizations and more, HealthyChildren.org is an extensive resource.
iVillage – On the iVillage Baby section, moms and parents are encouraged to read, share and participate by the use of a rewards program which gives points (and the chance to win) for using the site in various ways. So if you want a chance to win free stuff while researching ideas for nursery decorating, breastfeeding or even post-baby weight loss, try out iVillage, which also has another of pages focused on issues women care about besides babies.
Lamaze.org – Although best known for their classes on breathing techniques, Lamaze International’s website offers extensive preparation for parents to have a safe and healthy delivery. It’s an especially great resource for first-time parents, and offers a weekly newsletter and help finding local Lamaze parent classes.
The Bump – From the same folks behind The Knot, a well-known and popular resource for wedding planning, The Bump provides nearly everything a new parent could want, and is designed to be used from the moment you first decide you are ready to get pregnant. Many pregnant moms enjoy reading the birth stories of others who have recently gone through the experience.
WhatToExpect.com – Based on the essential new-parent book What to Expect When You’re Expecting, the companion website offers a similar educational approach to explain and demystify all aspects of pregnancy and child-rearing.