Lost deposits, shattered drywall, gaping holes vomiting forth a jungle of cables. Home theater installation is not the most viable option for most folks living in rental units. Even if you own a home, unless you're both tech and construction savvy, you will probably have to deal with home theater professionals trying to up-sell you nitrogen-infused, gold-plated HDMI cables while they work their way to a hefty bill.
Apple's Airplay functionality is changing all that. With only three pieces of gear, you can have an almost totally wireless home theater system. There isn't much you can do about power cables. But here's how to do away with the rest of the mess.
- Epson Megaplex MG-850HD Projector (or an alternate projector with iPad/iPhone/iPhone docking)
- Pioneer X-SMC3-S Music Tap System (or similar integrated sound system with Airplay)
To start with, load whatever movies, music, or television shows you want to watch onto your iPad/iPhone/iPod. Though the music functionality of Airplay is the main selling point, the ability to stream video is what we are looking for. Airplay allows you to mirror displays, turning your device into a simultaneous interface and display.
Dock your iPad/iPhone/iPod into the $800 Epson Megaplex MG-850HD projector and cue up the movie. While the Megaplex-850HD is equipped with stereo speakers, this set up avoids using those, focusing on it's 720P display. Able to project up to 100 inches with high-def clarity, you'll either want a screen set up, or you can use a product like Paint on Screen to literally paint a projection screen on your walls (just be wary of doing this in a spot you don't own, not everyone needs a 100-inch silver rectangle on the wall).
To remain truly wireless, pick the $400 Pioneer X-SMC3-S Music Tap System. A powerful Airplay-centric, dual-channel unit, the X-SMC3-S is an integrated amplifier and stereo speaker system. Pushing 20 watts a channel, it's not going to blow down any doors, but Pioneer's engineers have designed a system that does a lot with a little. Access the Airplay interface and sync the audio up with the iPad/iPhone/iPod.
With audio coming through on the Music Tap, and video streaming through the projector, you now have a home theater system that offers a lot with relatively few components. Sans the power cords, this set up is entirely wireless. While the day when full wireless 7.1 surround sound has yet to come, you can't beat the ease of use this set up offers. However, for anyone looking for full surround, Pioneer has a line of 7.1 Airplay compatible receivers. At this point, you're sacrificing the wireless speakers. But paired with a docking projector, you're at least eliminating the clutter of video cables.
You link the iPad/iPod/iPhone to an Airplay-ready receiver. Several manufacturers produce rear wireless speaker kits. These consist of a transmitter/receiver set up. After wiring up your fronts, you'll run the rear cables to the transmitter, then link up with the receiver placed strategically in your room. Like that, you'll be getting full surround sound, with minimal wiring.
Then one more option exists for the user looking for a totally wireless experience. As mentioned before, the Epson Megaplex has built in speakers. Simply drop your device in, power up, and you have complete video projection and stereo sound. While 6-watt stereo speakers aren't going to be much more powerful than a laptop's, this set up still comes as close to a wireless home theater system as you can get.