My Media in Every Room, Continued

NOTE: This entry was written mid-summer, before the revelation of the AppleTV2reboot.

With the demise of one of my two discontinued Griffin Evolve wireless speakers I’m left to again ponder how I want to share my media in my house. Be prepared for lots of first-world technology nonsense in the following paragraphs. I’m sure that most people solve their need for moving their media around their house by picking up their ipods/iphones and jamming their earbuds in their ears. It’s a pretty good solution.

My pre-evolve-demise set up was to have one main media server (mac mini) in my upstairs office with music, DVDs, stored movies and podcasts. My main source for news and entertainment has been the podcasts that I subscribe to. So when I wanted to listen to podcasts in the upstairs bathrooms or anywhere in the house I would pick up one evolve wireless speaker and carry it with me to the room (most podcasts are monophonic so i only needed either of the two speakers). In the downstairs living room I was using my PS3 to watch DVDs, Blurays, media streaming from the upstairs server and some Internet streaming. In the bedroom I have an iHome clock/radio where I dock my iPhone to play podcasts and I read ebooks or watch video podcasts on my iPad. There’s no TV in the bedroom.

Like I said it was a pretty functional set-up but there was plenty of room for improvement and the loss of the evolve wireless speakers encouraged me to look into some kind of upgrade. Let’s start downstairs. After the last system update of my PS3, it won’t display the video stream from and never was very good streaming any Internet video. And any sort of hick-up between the upstairs server and the PS3 and I couldn’t view/listen to my podcast subscriptions. So, the PS3 has been good for watching Blurays but pretty much a C- when it came to anything else. The other thing about the living room set up is that my couch is a little over 16-feet from my TV so even at 42-inches the TV seems too small and too far away. So, I’d like to upgrade the TV to 60-inches and am marginally hopeful that some of these Internet-ready ones will “solve” the problem of not being able to access either my media or podcasts stored on my media server. But after looking at the Vizio “internet widgets,” these “internet-ready” TVs feel a lot like the PS3’s kind-a works set-up. I could just get another mac mini, but I’d rather not throw down $800 on a box until I see whether the much cheaper long promised Boxee Box does the job for $500 less. And then there’s Google TV appearing on Sony TVs in the undetermined future. Ack. I think I’m holding off on anything TV until November/holiday/SuperBowl time frame.

Then there’s the problem of not only having a TV screen too far away, but having my speakers 16-feet away also. Probably compensating for not having a giant wall size display I’d love to crank up the volume but I’ve already had the dreaded wall-knocking from my townhouse neighbors when the volume was nowhere near “11” so that’s not going to work. Add to that I’ve had the same receiver/amp so long that the VCR that made the 5.1 really cool died over five years ago. It’s a dinosaur and with the little satellite speakers 16-feet there’s almost nothing immersive about my home-theater experience.

I’d like to have something with an A/B switch so that if I’m working from my dining room table over 19-feet away across the room I could switch on bookshelf speakers right next to me and not have to blast the whole room (and adjoining rooms). I might also just move the main speakers half-way across the room so they’re closer to the couch. I used to have these giant 4-foot speakers that I left in CA that would do nicely in the living room. Damn. Then there’d be wires running all around the room. I hate wires. Further study is required.

I have the mac mini media server connected to a TV in the upstairs office but I’m not happy with only having the TV speakers for music and movies. I’d also like to get a bluray player so that I can watch my newer discs upstairs and not just downstairs. There are a few home-theater-in-a-box solutions, but it does seem weird to possibly have a better sound system in the office than what I have in the living room. I really wish that I could just add an inexpensive bluray drive to my mac mini. Grrh.

As far as getting my podcasts in the bathrooms and other bedroom, I’ve looked at the Sonos systems and it does seem like overkill, even for me. I mean, I could just buy an inexpensive dock-with-speakers and use my iPhone in the bathrooms. Crap, after re-reviewing the Sonos site I’m hard pressed to find another solution that’s quite elegant. Here I thought I at least had one easy solution. Problem is that half the time I’m watching video podcasts and the Sonos is audio only. Damn.

My previous look into my media setup: