The huge increase in our listening and viewing options in recent years has been matched by a rise in the number of clever ways of accessing this content – many of which are simple to use and inexpensive to buy.
In this article we look at 7 of our favourite ways of enjoying music, movies and TV shows wirelessly:
1) Apple AirPlay
We’re fans of AirPlay because of its simplicity and affordability. Almost anyone with an iDevice can use it, and with an add-on like Apple TV or AirPort Express you can be enjoying wireless music or video anywhere in your home.
Apple TV, at just $109, is a terrific add-on for anyone using iTunes, iPod, iPhone or iPad at home. Just plug it into your stereo and/or TV, connect to your wireless network then stream music and video (up to 1080p) to your heart’s content. We particularly like the ease (and quality) of streaming HD movies and TV shows from the iTunes store, and streaming music from the likes of Spotify on iPhone or iPad. You can also use it to view photos and videos from your iDevice on your TV screen – it all works quickly and seamlessly.
AirPort Express ($119) plugs into any amplifier with analog or digital inputs and streams audio from any AirPlay-enabled device. As a quick upgrade to an existing hi-fi, it’s a great solution for wireless audio.
2) Sonos Wireless Hi Fi
Sonos are leaders in stylish, easy-to-use audio systems that make whole-home music enjoyment simple and affordable. Their solutions work with your existing equipment and across different platforms like iOS, Android, PC and Mac.
With Sonos, as the company says, you can listen to all the music on Earth in every room. It works with streaming music services like Spotify, Songl and Rdio, can access internet radio, plays via iTunes and can be controlled via a Sonos controller, and iOS or Android smartphones and tablets.
The new Sonos SUB wireless subwoofer (out June 19) adds another dimension to your music – plus it looks very cool!
For simple, elegant wireless audio solutions, Sonos are hard to beat.
3) Streaming Music Services
After being left behind for so many years, Australia now has a good choice of streaming audio services – Spotify, Rdio, Samsug Music Hub, JB Hi-Fi Now and more. These services typically cost between $5-$15 a month and provide access to millions of tracks from most record labels. They are accessed via PC/Mac and various phones and tablets, including iPhone / iPad, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone devices, as well as systems like Sonos.
Features, sound quality and compatibility varies across the services, but our current favourite (perhaps because it’s still quite shiny and new) is Spotify – a premium subscription at $12.99/month works on iPhone, Android, PC, Mac and Sonos and provides streaming up to 320kbps.
A comprehensive comparison of all currently available music streaming services in Australia is available here>>, although it doesn’t cover the new X-Box Music service just announced (June 5, 2012) by Microsoft, for which we don’t yet have any local details.
4) Streaming Video Services
As with music streaming, Australia is just starting to catch up in the video department. Some of the services we have today include iTunes, Quickflix, BigPond Movies, Optus MeTV, Telstra’s T-Box and Foxtel on X-Box 360.
In addition to these paid services, the broadcasters are also getting in on the game with ABC’s iView, SBS On Demand and 7Plus all available now on devices like the Sony Playstation 3.
The best service to choose depends on your existing equipment and/or subscriptions, as well as your viewing habits. We’ll no doubt see many more options appear as our broadband improves and global licensing agreements get ironed out.
5) The Smart TV
While TVs are not making us smarter, they are getting smarter themselves. Mirroring the app approach of tablets and smartphones, many TVs now have ‘apps’ that allow access to streaming video via YouTube and other services, Skype video calls, internet browsing, podcasts and social media sites.
Given that the TV is still the hub of home entertainment for most people, having this capability ‘built-in’ is quite appealing. Brands like Loewe and Panasonic have incorporated this functionality with intuitive interfaces that make going beyond ‘normal’ broadcast TV easy.
6) Denon AVR Receivers
Denon have been focusing on making their AV Receivers smarter for some time now, and the new 2012/2013 Denon Receivers are the smartest yet. Of the three models previewed so far, two have AirPlay support and allow control via iOS and Android devices with the Denon Remote app. They’ll also play internet radio and will stream music from connected devices on your home network with full DLNA certification.
7) Loewe Audio Systems
German TV maker Loewe have been known as one of the world’s leading innovators in television since the 1920′s. They’ve dabbled in audio over the decades, but it’s only really now that they’ve really nailed it with a range of wireless audio systems that combine style with technology and ease of use.
The Loewe SoundVision, AirSpeaker and SoundBox have a range of connectivity options including AirPlay, Bluetooth, iPod docking and networking. Audio quality is superb thanks to digital amplification, built-in subwoofers and clever acoustic design.
Tell us what you think!
We’d love to hear your thoughts – what are your favourite wireless products or music/video services? Head over to our Facebook page and leave a comment!