For all its wonder and convenience, the latest, greatest technology has unleashed a biblical plague of snaking wires and cables across our homes. Cables to connect, sync, route, recharge and dock, we probably spend more time hunting for the right cord to plug in our machines than we spend playing with the gadgets themselves.
But while technology has created the problem, it is also now beginning to offer a solution. Recent years have seen the market flooded with wireless solutions that promise to simplify our cable-bound existence. So if you’d like to eliminate that dusty mass of plugs behind your computer and TV, here are the top five products you need to cut the cable clutter.
Modern television setups are pretty amazing. Hi-def flat screens, Blu-ray players and 5.1 surround sound produce a movie theater-level experience at home, all without having to put up with the sticky floors and nattering masses. But trying to set up one of these cable-laden systems is like being a 1940s secretary at a telephone switchboard. With an Internet TV, like Vizio’s line of Internet-enabled flatscreens, you can dispense with the peripherals and stream HD content directly to your living room. Many of these televisions also come with a bevy of apps, so you can even surf the web, update Facebook, and gather the family around the latest viral YouTube video.
While Internet TVs are the wave of the future, many of us still have perfectly good TVs that we don’t want to part with. Internet-enabled set-top boxes like the AppleTV, Roku, Boxee and Slingbox, as well as modern video game systems like the Wii and Xbox 360, allow you to wirelessly link your entertainment system to your computer and the Internet. So whether you want to blast your MP3 collection in the den or stream a show from Hulu or Netflix, you’re covered.
By taking advantage of the connectivity built into Internet TVs and set-top boxes, many tablets, like the iPad, can stream videos wirelessly to your TV. So you can plunk down on the couch to watch a show on the big screen, and then pick up your iPad and continue watching in the next room should you get restless (or, more likely, should your spouse insist on watching something else). And the technology isn’t limited to streaming TV and movies. You can show off a photo slideshow of your trip to the Grand Canyon, or play Angry Birds in 52 inches of glorious HD.
If you spend more time rocking out than kicking back with a movie, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on a wireless stereo setup. For audiophiles with deep pockets there’s Denon’s line of Apple Airplay-enabled receivers. Pumping out 140 watts across nine channels, the Denon allows music lovers to blast tunes throughout the house from their MP3 player or smartphone.
But if your pockets aren’t quite as deep, you can settle for a simpler solution: a set of wireless speakers. Bose’s Soundlink wireless speaker packages together all the things you need to wirelessly fill a room with sound: speakers, an amplifier and Bluetooth connectivity.
Brand new stereo gear isn’t necessary to start streaming music wirelessly. Apple’s Airport Express is a vastly simplified wifi router that allows you to link up a conventional stereo with your iTunes collection.
While wifi has alleviated some of our cable clutter, providing an easy way to move data around the home, every gadget still needed a cord to recharge. Until now.
Inductive charging uses an electromagnetic field to wirelessly power devices over short distances. Simply toss your iPhone on the inductive surface, like the one produced by Energizer, and it starts charging. A slim case-like back attaches to your phone, allowing it to transform the electromagnetic force into power it can use. While current models of smartphones and tablet require this add-on, you can expect to see this tech built right into future generations of wireless devices.