Over the last few weekends, I have set up a complete entertainment system for some family friends. Being a lover of all things Apple, I attempted to use as many Apple products as possible. It is actually a not so secret desire of mine to have a sizable budget to use at my discretion at Apple and Best Buy.
In putting together the system, I was quite surprised at how much Apple has created the ability to connect multiple devices in the home. Products that used to seem disconnected now work together to create a home entertainment system you could have only dreamt about just a few years ago.
Here is a list of Apple products that were combined to make a super connected home entertainment system:
- 11′ MacBook Air
- Apple TV
- 2TB Time Capsule
- Airport Express
Here’s what I did:
First of all, I connected Apple’s Time Capsule to the home Internet connection in the basement of the house. The Time Capsule serves two purposes. It is a 802.11n wireless router that works great with Apple products. It also acts as a 2TB hard drive. The Time Machine functionality can be used so that every computer in the house backs up wirelessly on the hour. No more carrying around an external hard drive and having to remember to back up your computer. This one happens automatically for the whole family.
Another great feature of the Time Capsule is its ability to connect a printer and provide printing capability to all household computers.
The next thing I did was to connect two different Airport Express devices in the house. One was connected on the main level and the other was connected in the master bedroom. In a similar fashion to the Time Capsule, the Airport Express acts as a wireless router. The beauty of the device is that it can also be utilized as a repeater of the main wireless signal. So, if your wireless signal coming from the basement is weak in the upstairs levels, the Airport Express repeats the signal to make it stronger.
You can also connect a stereo system to the Airport Express’ auxiliary output. This output can go into a stereo input. So, in the living room on the main level of the house, we connected the Airport Express to a Bose Wave Radio. In the master bedroom, we connected the Airport Express to the bedroom TV.
With these stereo connections in place, the MacBook Air, iPad, and iPhone all became portable music players that could play music on any of these two stereos. So, as long as the computer, tablet, or phone was connected to WiFi, it could send any song located on the device to the stereo system. You could be a DJ in the basement while reclining in the den.
The realization of how much things had changed hit me as I set up the mid-level stereo system. I removed a 100 disc changer from the entertainment system cabinet and told the family they could now control even more music from their phones.
After setting up the stereos, it was time to work on the TVs. I got 2 Apple TVs for this part. One was for the family room tv and the other was for the downstairs children’s entertainment room. In addition to being able to stream Netflix movies, you can now stream music, photos, and movies from the computer, iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone. And this ability only became available on the iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone with the release of IOS 4.3, and that was only released within the past few weeks.
So, we’re talking about brand new functionality here that really only came out in the last month. The family already had two flat screen tvs and I set up some nice sounds systems to the tv/Apple TV comination.
The final product was really astonishing. By using an iPad, this family could now choose which movie to watch on their TV, change the music playing in the basement, set some jazz music in the living room, and have classical music going in the master bedroom. And they could do this from any room in their house using a computer, iPad, or iPhone.
The Apple products cost around $3500 total. Then of course, tvs and stereos were needed throughout the house. But if you wanted to, you could do a similar system for less than $1000. Here’s how:
- One iPhone 3GS (currently $49)
- One Apple TV ($100)
- A surround sound receiver with 6 speakers ($350)
- 40″ Flat Screen TV ($450)
- HDMI, Taxes & Other Cables ($50)
Now, I’m making the assumption that you already have wifi set up. With these devices, you could use the iPhone as a remote or as a music player that would play music, podcasts and music through the Apple TV and through your surround sound receiver. You could even show photos and videos you took on your iPhone on your new flat screen tv.
If there is anyone else out there with a big entertainment system budget in Atlanta, let me know. I’d love to help.