Here's our Hardware Tip for.. July 6, 2007
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Setting Up a Wireless Entertainment Network
Although the application of wireless networking to the creation of highly configurable entertainment networks is in its infancy, many of the pieces you need to create such a network are starting to be introduced. Some of these devices are conventional adaptations of components you already have in a sound system, such as the 900 MHz Sony Wireless Speaker system. The wireless station of this system broadcasts an audio source from a receiver or TV to a couple of wireless speakers (or headphones). Other devices, such as the SMC EZ-Streaming Universal Wireless Multimedia Receiver (SMCWMR-AG), are relatively new types of low-cost file servers specially configured for streaming media files over a wireless connection. The typical streaming multimedia device is limited in the file formats it can work with, and that is one of the reasons for selecting one device over another. In this chapter, we look at the wireless devices that you can use to stitch your home entertainment network together, and what capabilities those devices offer.
Wireless technology makes great sense in home entertainment networks because of the relatively low cost involved in adding wireless capability to devices, and because of the convenience they give you. When you factor in the speed of some of the more recent 802.11 protocols, even streaming large video files is workable. With wireless technology you have a much greater degree of freedom in placing the components where you want them. Most people do not live in homes or work in buildings that have special audio/video (AV) wall jacks, nor do most homes have CAT5 Ethernet pulled through the walls. Although you can retrofit buildings to accommodate new networks, it is both costly and troublesome. The flexibility that wireless links provide also allows you to manage your entertainment WLAN from different locations and with different devices and software, shifting to better technology as time goes by.