how to best set up my house for wireless internet access as well as music?
February 9, 2004 9:09 AM   Subscribe

I need advice on how to best set up my house for wireless internet access as well as music. (please click for more)

Here's what I want: work from my laptop (with internet access) anywhere in the house/yard and to have my CDs on one of my desktop computers and be able to listen to it while downstairs (office is upstairs).

Here's what I have: two desktops and one laptop, router, cable modem.

I think all I'd have to do for wireless internet is get a wireless router with an adaptor for my laptop. But if I also want one of the desktops to contain my music collection and have it "broadcast" to another room, do I need anything more than this (like more of a network), or something separate from the router?

I see that there are these wireless music products. Does anyone have any experience with these?

I'm just confused as how to best approach this.
posted by evening to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Use a wireless router, and a network card for your laptop. Linksys and Netgear both make inexpensive models. For what you are doing, 'b' grade wireless would be just as well, rather than spending the extra money on 'g'.

To broadcast the music, I would suggest iTunes. You open iTunes on your desktop that has your computer, and turn on file sharing. When you open iTunes on any other machine on the network, it will automatically detect the other computer sharing, and populate your music to the laptop, where you can stream across the network, while leaving the files on the desktop.
posted by benjh at 9:16 AM on February 9, 2004

Response by poster: I love the iTunes idea, benjh -- will do that for upstairs and the laptop. But I think I left out the part for listening to the music not over a computer, but through speakers.

In other words, how can I listen to music in the living room over speakers, from the computer upstairs?
posted by evening at 9:24 AM on February 9, 2004

I've heard good things about the Gateway Connected DVD Player, though i've never used it myself. Tivo devices will also stream media to your speakers, with an interface through your telelvision.

There are also a variety of media computers you can build yourself, that would be a more expensive option, though.
posted by benjh at 9:38 AM on February 9, 2004

That Sound Blaster Wireless Music thing will be all you'll need to play mp3s from the upstairs computer on your stereo. The Squeezebox will also do the job, supports more formats, and is extremely popular with the geek crowd.

On preview, also what benjh said.
posted by zsazsa at 9:42 AM on February 9, 2004

Tivo devices will also stream media to your speakers, with an interface through your television.

I love TiVo media streaming. If only it spoke iTunes/AAC. Still, my daughter has her own music folder published on her own PC, and she can play Smashmouth and Spongebob and Moby to her heart's content through our TV/receiver.

It's weird how some TiVo users are insulted that they have to pay extra for the Home Media Option, while for others it's reading about the feature that convinces them to finally take the TiVo step.
posted by pzarquon at 9:51 AM on February 9, 2004

I'm going to stay out of the wireless part as I just had a nasty experience extending my wireless network this weekend, but I would say to be careful about installing iTunes on Windows 2000. I'm basing this entirely on rumor and innuendo, but it supposedly causes problems (if you're even using that OS).

There are a ton of streaming media solutions coming onto the market from Linksys, Gateway, Tivo, Logitech, etc. What's currently hooked up to your entertainment system? You may be able to add onto that.
posted by yerfatma at 10:06 AM on February 9, 2004

>In other words, how can I listen to music in the living room over speakers, from the computer upstairs?

Run an MP3 streamer on your computer, and get an XBOX.

A modded XBOX will provide excellent quality sound, and shouldbe easy to network (but you'll probably need to buy an ethernet -> wireless bridge). You'll get lots of MP3 playing options, too.

Of course, that's just me.
posted by shepd at 10:38 AM on February 9, 2004

one thing we're doing is running an ethernet cable (under the kitchen floor as it happens) from one side of the house to the other, so we can have two wireless hubs. i don't know what your house is made of, but my experience is that wifi isn't that good at penetrating thick (structural) concrete walls.
posted by andrew cooke at 10:45 AM on February 9, 2004

Regarding the wireless audio, I own the SoundLink Wireless Audio Delivery System from US Robotics. I've used it for a couple of years now with no problems. The US Robotics site says it's no longer available for purchase, but there are some currently on Ebay.
posted by Otis at 10:51 AM on February 9, 2004

Of course, that's just me.

It's not just you. I feel guilty every time I look at the thing and think DMCA-violating thoughts. If they do drop to $99 and the non-invasive MechAssault hack is as easy as it sounds, it'd be a crime not to make a media server out of one.
posted by yerfatma at 12:02 PM on February 9, 2004

Response by poster: thanks, all.

Our entertainment system downstairs is consisted of Tivo, XBox, DVD, etc. We don't have a real stereo (we have one from years ago that's a pseudo-boombox) and no good speakers other than the Klipsch we have in the office (which we really like, and bought thinking we could use them as stereo speakers if we wanted). We have speakers in the living room and dining room walls, but I don't think the cords are hooked up. Not sure how good they are anyway. So as you can see we're basically starting from scratch on the audio end.

The house is only about 6 years old, so I don't think (with fingers crossed) that wireless will be a problem. However, if it is, the office is directly above the family room so running cables through the walls shouldn't be a huge problem if needed.

Never heard of the streaming audio through the Tivo -- that might be cool. Our TV is a rear-projector and has pretty decent speakers. That could always hold us over until we're ready to buy good ones for a home theater system.

Anyway, I just want to think ahead and figure out the best approach to doing all this.
posted by evening at 12:10 PM on February 9, 2004

this is what i'm planning to do for the house system (everythings in place i've just gotten lazy of late):

desktop computer contains mp3s and is hardwired to the stereo (my video card has output to RCAs which run to the stereo and the video projector (this is all part of a home theatre)).

desktop and laptop run VNC, which allows you to access the desktop from the laptop (i'm not sure how/if this will work depending on the router firewalls)

use the laptop as a remote control for the desktop running winamp (i think you could do the same thing with remote desktop if your running xp or 2000). good luck
posted by NGnerd at 11:02 PM on February 9, 2004

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