“How can I serve you today?” shouldn’t just be a line at your local McDonald’s. If audio and video equipment had the power of speech, your multiroom A/V system might ask, “How, where and what content can I serve you today?” The answer: tunes, TV and movies—sorry, no fries—to any area of your home.
A major part of entertainment is comfort. That means you shouldn’t have to be tethered to a couch, a computer or anything else. Instead of dragging a boom box—or even a TV—around the house, you can let a multiroom system route one or more entertainment sources to various areas of your home.
The first thing to think about is what you want to distribute. Do you want music by the barbecue pit? Do you want to watch DVDs while soaking in the tub? There are systems that stream just audio, ones that do just video, and some that can accommodate whichever you’re in the mood for.
Multiroom systems, by definition, can accommodate more than one area, or zone. If you want music by the pool, in the bedroom, in the kitchen and in the living room, that could be four designated zones. Make sure your system will deliver to the number of areas that you need—and maybe a few extras should you want to expand your system later.
Just because your system feeds 40 areas, that doesn’t always translate to endless entertainment options. Look at the number of sources a system can deliver. Some systems are hard drive based, meaning they store digital audio and video, while others can connect to DVD players, CD players, set-top boxes and more.
Some systems also have a built-in amplifier, which means that one unit can power speakers without additional components. Typically, when you see an amp mentioned, you will also find the spec “watts per channel.” This is a measurement of how much power an amp can deliver to each speaker.
Look at how the system is controlled. If keypads are the only option and you don’t want them, you should know that there are other systems that can meet your preferences. Some products are sold as part of a package and some as a controller. This means that all of the keypads and controllers may be included in a system package or offered a la carte.
Another feature to look out for is whether the system can pass high-definition video. After all, if you are going to include video, you may as well go for the gusto! Finally, make sure a system is web enabled. Some systems may offer options to download audio and video and a web connection is key for system upgrades.
Grab that favorite remote, and get ready to rock, tan, soak or whatever else you want to do; a multiroom system can be your best—and most entertaining—buddy.
Follow Electronic House
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.