When it comes to technology, the Ericsons are hardly behind the times. Between them, this family of four (mom Tina and dad Adam, both 46, son Sean, 13, and daughter Ingrid, 10) owns three computers, three TVs, an iPad, and an Xbox 360 -- plus, everybody has their own smartphone. Even so, they felt pretty clueless. "When it comes to entertainment stuff, we have no idea what we're doing," says Tina, a marketing consultant and publisher. She and Adam, a stay-at-home father, yearned for a simple, streamlined system that would be easy to maintain and make their home a cool place to hang out. What's more, a certain DVD incident left the couple wondering how much their haphazard ways were really costing them.
Dreaming of Streaming
The Ericsons were partying like it was 1999 -- DVDs galore, a pricey cable package, and a teenager parked on the couch by a game console. Adam also maintains a massive CD collection. Clearly his passion for music has rubbed off on the kids -- Sean often rocks out on the guitar, and Ingrid loves to sing. Dinner parties at the Ericsons' always involve a customized playlist. But the family room was the only place in the house wired for sound, and managing all the CDs was a drag.
Movie nights were equally aggravating -- not to mention potentially budget-busting. "We recently forgot to return a DVD we rented for Ingrid at Redbox," admits Adam. "By the time we saw the $80 charge on our credit card, it was too late to do anything about it." The playroom, where the Xbox lives, had become Sean's domain. Tina worried he was "spending too much time on the sofa shooting things." In other words, adjustments were in order. Some new equipment and strategies could make music, movies, and gaming less work and more fun.