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For Your Entertainment
Bring the fun outdoors with weatherproof TVs and speakers.
By Debra Maurer
Now that the patio and deck have become the new family room, homeowners want to enjoy the same activities outside as they do indoors—including watching TV and movies and listening to music. While electronics and Mother Nature usually don’t mix, advanced technology and uniquely designed innovations have resulted in sound systems, TVs, and projector screens all meant for the outdoors.
Much like a home with a pool in the summer, any home with a big-screen HDTV becomes the place to be during major sporting events, movie nights, and special occasions. Instead of cramming everyone into the basement or family room, create a modern entertainment space outside, complete with a bar, dining area, cushioned seats, and a weatherproof TV. The TV can be connected to your cable box, DVD/blu-ray player, gaming system, or even your laptop to stream movies from online services.
While you may be hesitant to expose such a big-ticket piece of equipment to the elements, these TVs have been engineered to survive extreme temperatures and harsh weather conditions. Their screens are anti-glare, impact-resistant, and scratch-resistant. They come with water-resistant remotes and can be installed on articulating mounts to easily adjust the angle. Weatherproof TVs retail for $2,000 – $8,000 for screen sizes of 23 to 55 inches.
Photo courtesy of SunbriteTV
If you like the idea of an outdoor TV but can’t afford the hefty price tag, another option is to purchase an outdoor screen and projector. The projector can be connected to most video sources, including an HDTV, cable box, external video player, and computer. One manufacturer sells a home theater kit with a projector and inflatable 72-inch screen. The screen has a clear picture quality and is elevated with inflatable blocks. Set it up in your backyard, and it’s like having your own “drive-in movie” at home! Movie night under the stars is a fun way to entertain kids without having to spend money at the theater. The kit sells for $500, but if you already own a projector, you can purchase the 72-, 96-, or 144-inch inflatable screen separately for $200, $750, or $1,050, respectively.
Photo courtesy of Sima Technologies
Speakers & Sound Systems
Whether you’re having a big outdoor affair or just socializing by the pool, music makes your time spent outdoors anything but dull. A number of speakers and sound systems are manufactured to withstand all weather conditions and fit into your outdoor setting. Faux rock speakers, composed of resin, are an ideal way to hide speakers within your backyard landscape. Planters with built-in speakers also hide the equipment and can be filled with beautiful flowers to add to your outdoor décor. Most systems require you to run wires from your indoor audio source. To hide the wires, you’ll need to dig a trench approximately 5 inches deep and cover with topsoil.
If you don’t need multiple speakers or high-tech acoustics, you may opt for a wireless unit with an audio input for iPods and MP3 players. Though these systems are not weatherproof, some include a splash-proof plastic covering to protect your iPod or MP3 player while in use. Complete with a remote, self-contained sound systems like these are easy to set on a table outside or by the pool, and store inside when not in use. Many are powered by an internal battery, which is recharged through an electrical outlet or computer. One new unit can also operate on solar energy.
Photos courtesy of OSD Audio,
Stereostone, Inc and Etón Corporation
If you are a pool owner, there are a few sound systems you can take right into the pool with you. Specially designed water-resistant radios will float on the surface as you swim or relax on a comfortable float. With designs ranging from traditional circles to submarines and dolphins, these devices require only a couple of regular batteries. Some systems also have underwater speakers and sound effects for games. Prices range from $21 – $42.
If you’d rather play music from your iPod, MP3 player, or other audio device, you can purchase a floating waterproof speaker for $100. Just plug your audio device into the transmitter via a 3.5 mm cable, and the wireless speaker will transmit sound from up to 150 feet away. (Note that only the speaker is waterproof; the transmitter should be kept safely away from water.)
Photo courtesy of Audio Unlimited by Cables Unlimited
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