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Wired or wireless – home electronics options

Every good entertainment system begins with good planning
Richard Rex of Maple Ridge’s Digital Valley Entertainment adjusts the cables for a home theatre system.

With so many options to choose from, and as many potential configurations as there are people, it’s pretty much impossible to describe the typical home entertainment and electronics set-up.

One thing is certain, however – every good system begins with good planning.

Big or small, the starting point for any entertainment and electronics system installation is going to be the wish list. Putting down on paper the desired components will get things rolling, says Richard Rex of Digital Valley Entertainment.

You might not be able to get everything you want, he says, but at least you’ll have a place from which to begin.

A host of decisions must be made. What kind of television screen, if any? What kind of music playback set-up? Will gaming systems be included? How best to incorporate Internet options? How will you control everything?

These are just some of the questions you’ll have to ask yourself about what you want, says Rex.

Then you have to start thinking about the cost involved, not to mention whether everything you want can be easily accommodated.

Eventually, one of the biggest questions you’re going to have to ask is whether a wired or wireless set-up will work best in your home.

If you’re building a home or renovating, the question becomes much easier, says Dave Sheppard, co-owner of Haney Sewing and Sound, because when the wall and ceiling cavities are exposed, the best option is usually going to be a wired installation.

“There are some limitations to Wi-Fi [wireless] that people need to be cognizant of, and a wired installation is generally the best option [to eliminate those limitations], but running network wires is something most people are only going to do if they have wall and ceiling access,” says Sheppard.

Wireless technology has come a long way in recent years, and it’s getting better all the time, Rex acknowledges, but it can still experience interference from other equipment, and it is subject to dead spots when the signal won’t penetrate certain materials.

For those reasons, he agrees that wired systems are still superior because they provide direct, dedicated signal that usually can’t be interfered with.

“The problem with wireless technology,” says Rex, “is that these appliances we use – cordless phones, microwaves, home entertainment, etc. – all share the same spectrum, and while there are multiple channels within that spectrum, you really have to know what you’re doing to minimize the problems.”

Now, while wired systems might be better than wireless, the reality is not all homeowners have the option of running wires throughout the house. For that reason we have wireless, and Sheppard says it’s certainly not a bad option by any means for those who need it.

“Wireless [technology] is getting better and better,” he says.

“If you spend money on good equipment, and get yourself a good quality router, you can often avoid much of the hassle associated with wireless systems.”

The great thing about wireless is that it lets you take your entertainment options pretty much anywhere you like, offers Rex, who notes that most homes have multiple entertainment areas these days.

“Kitchens are important locations these days because so much living is done in the kitchen. Master ensuites and master bedrooms usually get some attention, and outdoor living areas are huge right now, not only for music, but also for television.”

The other thing about wireless is that it is nearly ubiquitous, says Sheppard. Everything is getting the wireless treatment, from entertainment equipment to the control systems used to run them, units like Control 4, a smart remote control system that can program just about everything in your home, from your stereo and television to the blinds and lights.

One of the great things about the new technology is that it’s so much cheaper than it used to be, says Rex, so more people are able to afford bigger and better set-ups regardless of whether they’re going wired or wireless.

“Component prices are relatively cheap compared to 20 to 30 years ago,” he states,  “and while not everyone can afford the newest and best technology, those on more modest budgets still have lots of options available to them, too, so there’s pretty much something for everyone.”

Robert Prince is a freelance writer who lives in Maple Ridge.

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