Bringing Internet Stations to Non-Networked Devices – Many Blu-ray players, PCs and even smartphones now come with DLNA technology (Digital Living Network Alliance), which allows them to send photos, video and music to devices on a wireless network. There are also alternatives to DLNA. One is Orb Music – a small $70 audio adapter that uses free software providing remote access to media. The adapter connects to any PC on your network having the Orb software, and after setup is done (the name and password of your home network) the device is connected to any standard set of powered speakers. There is also an alternative to the Bluetooth music adapters available from cell phone makers. The Weezy is a stylish little platform that comes in four colors, that can receive Internet music, Pandora or Slacker from your iPhone or BlackBerry. Sound quality will depend on what speakers you hook it up to.
The Promise of Apple’s AirPlay – AirPlay, a feature of the latest iOS 4.1 software for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch, is basically an improved version of Apple’s AirTunes for streaming music from iTunes on a computer to AirPort Express-connected speakers. AirPlay allows you to stream video and photos as well as music, allows all the devices just mentioned to stream media, and the media can now be streamed to Apple TVs and compatible third-party hardware. Media can now be beamed around the house wirelessly. You can play music from your Mac or any of the three mobile devices just named, over your AirPort Express-connected speakers. You could have a set in any room, at a fraction of the cost of a custom wired whole-house audio system. It is hoped that a wide range of home theater products will soon feature AirPlay compatibility, and Bluetooth audio streaming may also be included in smartphones.
Extended Warranties – Good Idea? – According to the survey research director at Consumer Reports, no. He says it’s not a good idea because most products don’t break down during the time of the extended warranty. Home electronics usually come with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, an extended warranty covers an additional two to four years, but problems will most likely occur after that time has elapsed. Consumer Reports found that plasma and LCD TVs are highly reliable and require few repairs during the first three years of use, and thus suggest skipping the extended warranty.
TDK to Re-enter U.S. Audio Market – TDK, now known mainly for its blank media products, plans this coming year to get back into audio products with a line of home and portable items including boomboxes, belt-drive turntables, and a CD microsystem. Online retailers will have their seven products starting in January, followed by brick-and-mortar stores later. Their $500 three-speaker boombox audio system has an active sub, two coaxial speakers powered by ten watts and 15w for the sub. It has an AM/FM tuner and USB Host port which connects to iPods or iPhones, and will also play WMA and MP3 music files streamed from USB drives and hard drives. There is a ¼-inch input to connect musical instruments to play along with recorded music.
New LG Blu-ray Player for Vudu Addicts – LG’s BD590 is unique in having a 256GB hard drive, which offers a better user interface when playing music, photos and home videos off a hard drive. But the drive is especially useful if you prefer Vudu’s on-demand video services to renting physical discs. You have more dependable playback, better rewind and fast-forwarding than with a separate drive. The player also brings you Netflix, Cinema Now, Pandora, YouTube and other Net offerings via an Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection. It also supports MP3 and WMA music files, JPEG image files, and a selection of video codecs, and can also play a slideshow. Street price is $300.