Music to Their Ears
The Ericsons already had broadband Internet access and a wireless network. However, the aging router was upstairs in the playroom, a long way from the family room. It worked well enough to connect a laptop to the Internet for a quick e-mail check or to look something up, but lagged noticeably when playing video. Streaming music and movies was the goal. The first step was a network upgrade with Belkin's video-streaming optimized AC 1800 DB Wi-Fi Dual-Band AC+ Gigabit Router (belkin.com, $180). The unit is specifically designed to stream video and music to all parts of a larger house. But since the signal had to travel through two bedrooms and down a flight of stairs, a Belkin Universal Wireless AV Adapter ($100), which connects directly to the music or video player to further boost the signal, was warranted. Once a reliable signal was in place, streaming music was a question of the right equipment. The answer was a wireless music system.
The Sonos Wireless HiFi System taps a home network and wirelessly streams music to any room with a Sonos unit, effortlessly finding tunes stored on computers and delivering Internet music services such as Rhapsody, Pandora, Spotify, and SiriusXM to the stereo. Attach the Sonos Bridge transmitter (sonos.com,$49) to the new wireless router, plug a Sonos Connect receiver ($349) into the stereo in the family room, and place a Sonos Play:3 ($299) -- a compact stand-alone player -- in the master bedroom. (To do this most cost-effectively if you don't have a stereo, start with the Bridge and the Play:3, then add units over time.) Setting everything up required an easy installation on Adam's laptop, then downloading the free Sonos controller app to everyone's smartphone and Tina's little-used iPad.
The Ericsons started experimenting with Internet-based subscription music service Rhapsody (rhapsody.com, $10 a month for a premier account after a 14-day free trial) so they could experience unlimited music streaming. To search for a specific song, album, or artist, they could access the Rhapsody library right from the Sonos app. The only downside was that within minutes, Sean and Ingrid waged the first of many music wars, using the app on their phones to switch back and forth between Led Zeppelin and Taylor Swift.