Okay, they’ve got it all wrong!
I’ve spent considerable amount of time over the last few weeks researching different products that might be able to solve the audio problem. What I want is a system that will play my digital music files all throughout the house. What I don’t want is wires, or CDs, or analog wireless speakers. I want to use the 802.11 network in my house, I want it all digital, and I want to control it anywhere I’d like.
Here’s what I’ve found. There are numerous companies pushing expensive products today that will possibly make my dream come true. They are basically repackaged PC sound cards in a box with a wireless adapter. They let you play music and feed it into your stereo system. Okay so far. They all require running some product specific software that will stream the ‘music files’ to the remote device using the wireless network. This software is usually installed on the machine that acts as the music storehouse, etc. What they are basically selling is a pull-based technology. In the room with the stereo you either use some sort of advanced remote control with a tiny screen or some remote and a menu system displayed on your television to select music to be played. If you’ve got another device in another room, you can independently request a different ‘stream’ to play in that room on that device.
Unfortunately, that’s actually more than I want, and less at the same time! While it is incredibly cool to be able to select different music from different locations, that’s not what I’m after. What I want to do is broadcast. I want a push model foremost so that when I select to play a song, it plays in multiple rooms on multiple devices all at the same time.
This is my dream. You enter the living room. There is not an incredible amount of hi-tech gadgets anywhere to be seen. There is on the coffee table, or propped up on a counter or shelf, a stylistic Tablet PC that can be used for a variety of functions; show pics, play music, surf the net, etc. The tablet itself stores the entire music library and plays the music out over the 802.11 wireless. Elsewhere in the room and other rooms are small stereo systems that receive this broadcast and play it.
I don’t want a remote with a tiny LCD panel to be my menu into my music selections. I want the entire library there ready to go with brilliant colors. I want to use my Windows Media Player, not some hardware vendor’s idea of good software package and UI.
I don’t want a menu blasted up onto a television. Where’d the television come from? There’s none in this room. The television is not the ‘center’ of the house. The television is located in one place specifically designed for watching movies. A television is anti-social! A music system is social. You play music in the background while you chat with your friends.
I suppose this is what you get when you put a bunch of computer-heads in a room and ask them to solve the audio problem. First we get a solution focused on the PC. Wrong. Next we get a solution focused around the television! Wrong again!
You can’t have a conversation in front of the television. Just ask my wife. Now a Tablet PC can be social. It’s just a control, something you can pass around. You can pick it up and change the music. You can hand it to a friend and they can type a note or find an article that they want to share. You can all sit in a circle and face each other. When you’re done with it you set it down and forget about it.
Now that’s what I’d like to see.