When buying a network media player or media streamer for yourself or to give as a gift, make sure that that you have or supply everything needed to add to a home network. These home network accessories can make it easier to connect the network media player; to add music, photos or movies to a media library; or to save the whole household's media in a centralized library and then share or access it at home or on the road.
Accessories That Make It Easy to Connect
Unless your home network router and internet modem happen to be close to your home theater, you will have to find a way to connect your devices to your home network. There are both wired and wireless accessories to help you connect to a router that is located in another part of your house.
The Best Way to Connect Wirelessly
Some network media players are wifi enabled; that is, they can connect to your home's wireless router. Still, if you intend to wirelessly connect many network TVs, Blu-ray Disc players and network AV receivers, you will need an optional USB wireless accessory called a dongle The component's manufacturer may offer this accessory. The TV or component can now be set up for a wireless connection through its menu. While a wireless dongle is a thoughtful accessory, there is something even better.
Netgear Universal WiFi Internet Adapter: $79.99 (compare prices)
Unlike the USB wifi dongles, the Netgear Universal Wifi Internet Adapter connects to your device using an Ethernet cable. Once this wifi unit is set up by connecting it to your computer, you can use it for any of your network media players or network devices. You can even move it from device to device as needed.
The network media player or component thinks it is connecting to the home network via Ethernet connection. There is no need for additional setup; the device immediately connects to the home network. This is a particularly good gift to give for someone confused by home networking. Once you've set it up for them, they need only connect it with an Ethernet cable.
The Best Way to Make a Wired Connection to a Home Network Router in Another Room
While a few homes have built-in Ethernet wiring for a home network, most of us must figure out how to connect our wired home theater devices to our home network router in another room of our house. If you've visited someone who has a network media player or device with cables snaking through their house, a powerline adapter would make a practical and thoughtful gift.
Powerline adapters use your household electrical wiring to transfer data and audio/video information. A network media player or other networkable TV or component can use powerline adapters to connect to the home network router and internet modem that is placed in another part of the house, eliminating the need for long Ethernet cables.
WD Livewire: $139.99 (compare prices)
Netgear XAVB1004 Powerline Adapter Kit: $149.99 (compare prices)
In a real-use test over several months, these two powerline adapters have proven to be reliable. They have the fastest connection speeds for transferring files and smooth high definition audio and video. Both kits come with an adapter that has four Ethernet ports to connect several home theater devices--a TV, a Blu-ray Disc player, a network media player and a DVR. The Western Digital and Netgear powerline adapters are compatible, so you can mix and match the kits if you don't use the added security option. Additional security is recommended for apartment dwellers, as it offers protection from others in neighboring apartments who could gain access to your home network.
Give Them a Place to Save All Their Media
As they start adding all of those converted media files, it won't be long before your friends load up their computer hard drives with photos, music and movies. A NAS drive is the perfect central location to store everyone's media libraries. As well, it provides a computer backup solution for the networked computers.
This handy device makes all of your libraries available when you are away from home, too so you can always watch a movie or have access to your photos. With a premium subscription of $19.99 per year, the person has no excuse not to share their latest photos and home movies for you to download and watch on your own network media player.
For a look at some other great digital media accessories, proceed to Page 2: Accessories to Add Old Music, Movies and Photos to Your Digital Media Libraries