We watch in awe and (ahem) envy on our chunky TVs as lifestyle-technology expert Janna Robinson installs state-of-the-art gadgets in the homes of celebrities such as Oliver Stone and Kevin Connolly on her DIY Network show “Hollywood Hi-Tech.” Not yet ready for a home theater in your studio apartment? No prob. Robinson recommends five must-have items to keep you up to speed.
1. Streaming device
Our TVs are becoming an entertainment hub with the help of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon VOD. They give us access to a much wider array of content. You can use an Internet-connected entertainment device, like a gaming console, Roku, Apple TV or Blu-ray player to stream your favorite movies and shows. I am a big movie buff, so streaming is important to me. I stream Netflix in my living room via my Panasonic Viera HDTV and use my Panasonic Blu-ray player in the bedroom. I am never far from my favorite films.
2. Digital tablet
Tablets are a multifunctional device. They are lightweight, compact and easy to use — and they have a long battery life. Whether you choose an iPad, HP TouchPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab or one of the many others in the marketplace, a tablet is a great way to lighten your load. I like to use my iPad for presentations, streaming movies on long flights and catching up on my reading.
3. Universal remote
Put a stop to the madness and curtail the clutter by using one remote control for all of your home entertainment devices. Logitech and URC offer some great selections. If you are feeling particularly technically inclined, convert your smartphone and/or tablet into your remote control by downloading an app that will control all of your electronic devices.
4. Wireless music system
Wireless music systems give you the freedom to listen to music anywhere in your house without having to worry about running wires. You can listen to the same music or a different selection in every room —and even in your backyard. Companies like Sonos, Logitech’s Squeezebox Boom and Sony AirPlay offer affordable and easy-to-use audio solutions.
5. Surge protector
Safeguard your home electronic system, computers, peripherals, etc. from power outages and/or lightning strikes — which can only take a second to destroy your expensive equipment. Companies like Belkin, APC, Monster Cable among many others, have some great products. Entertainment systems tend to be one of the biggest energy drains in a household, and Belkin's Conserve line can put your AV components on standby when not in use, ultimately saving you money on your energy consumption.