Now, wireless technology and a host of advances in how digital devices are manufactured and function have made it much easier to enjoy electronic entertainment in the great outdoors. Versatile technology could be part of what’s driving the growth in outdoor digital entertainment. Installations of outdoor entertainment systems doubled from 2010 to 2011 (the most recent numbers available), and the average project cost nearly $8,000, according to the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA).
Adding sound and audio systems is a great way to liven up outdoor kitchens and living spaces, patios and even screened porches. If you’re looking to outfit your outdoor spaces with the latest in digital fun, here are a few ideas to get you started:
* Adding high quality sound to your deck or patio is as easy as upgrading your home audio system. Modern systems allow you to wirelessly transmit sound (either music or audio from the TV) throughout your home. Bringing that sound outside requires a wireless setup and incorporating outdoor-ready speakers into your existing sound system. Sensitive system parts, like the radio tuner or CD player reside safely indoors and the wireless function transmits the sound outside to weather-resistant speakers.
* No more super-long extension cords and wheeling the TV in and out of the house. Wireless technology allows you to mount a TV outdoors and access content from your digital cable, satellite TV feed, DVD player or even indoor game console. Be sure to safely mount your television using a mount made for outdoor use, like the Sanus HDpro Series VXF220. The all-weather wall mount can support TVs 42 to 84 inches, and features a rust-resistant coating and stainless steel hardware to stand up to the elements. A cable channel inside the mount conceals and protects power and connection cables, but never inhibits the movement of the mount so you can tilt it for the perfect viewing angle.
* When choosing a TV for outdoor use, keep in mind positioning and concerns like sun glare. If you want to go with a plasma TV, it will be important to protect the set from sun and rain, and you’ll need to mount it in the shade. A weatherproof LCD can be a better option if you won’t be able to avoid sun glare and exposure to the elements. LCD images are less likely to look washed out in the sun.
* Keep in mind that where you position electronics will affect your enjoyment of them. Just as you arrange seating indoors to provide the best view of your TV, you’ll need to arrange outdoor furnishings to ensure your electronics are both visible and protected – and have easy access to an outdoor power source.
* Water and electronics are notoriously bad together, so even if your outdoor electronics are weather resistant, it pays to protect them from the elements as much as possible. Consider adding an awning to your outdoor living space and outfitting it with an automatic rain sensor. Motorized retractable awnings that have these sensors will open to shield your outdoor living space when it begins to rain – even if you’re not home at the time.
Thanks to new technologies, it’s easier than ever to enjoy the great outdoors and your favorite digital entertainment at the same time.