If you wanted to setup a home with multiple zones in the fastest way possible its pretty clear there is only one way to go, wireless. There are plenty of solutions for Apple’s Airplay technology built in but what about if you use Windows Media Player? What would you say if we found a system that works with just about any protocol out there and sounds great too? That’s where the Allaire ARIS Wireless Speaker System by Aperion Audio comes in.
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Allaire™ ARIS® Wireless Speaker System
If you wanted to setup a home with multiple zones in the fastest way possible its pretty clear there is only one way to go, wireless. There are plenty of solutions for Apple’s Airplay technology built in but what about if you use Windows Media Player? What would you say if we found a system that works with just about any protocol out there and sounds great too? That’s where the Allaire ARIS Wireless Speaker System ($297) by Aperion Audio comes in.
With ARIS you can send your digital audio from your PC, Tablet, or Phone using DLNA from your Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer. Actually, even your Macintosh and iPhones can do the same provided you install an app that supports DLNA. Aperion has also verified compatibility with the Avantree Roxa Bluetooth 4.0 Music Receiver ($40) which uses A2DP to send audio to the adapter. You then connect the adapter to the ARIS with a 3.5mm cable.
Actually the wireless capability is an option and is added via a $77 WiFi card that is reminiscent of the old PCMCIA cards that added WiFi to laptops a few years ago. That brings the total cost to $374. If you use Airplay, Aperion was looking into developing an Airplay card but there is no timetable on when it will be available. In actuality, you will be better served by getting an Airport Express ($99) and connecting it to the ARIS with the same 3.5mm cable as the Roxa.
Setup is a snap. Plug in the WiFi card, plug in power and then join your network. That’s it! If you are using the the Airport Express you’ll have to add it to the network and the Roxa will need to be paired with your device. Then connect either to the ARIS via a 3.5mm cable. The ARIS has volume controls on the top of the speaker. There is also an EQ button that toggles through three modes: Natural, Bass Boost, and Enhanced Stereo. Regardless of method used you will be listening to music streamed across your network in less than 10 minutes.
The ARIS marketing material says, “Through ARIS we’ve created the next generation BOOM BOX”. And to a certain degree they have, so long as you can find power. If you use the wireless card you can move the ARIS to any room in your house. Its great for backyard entertaining and it does fill a room with sound. The ARIS has six speakers and 100 watts of power.
We listened to our usual mix of music, 90’s rock, 80’s pop, and classical. We felt the the Natural mode sounded smaller for lack of a better term. For us, the ARIS showed its chops when we turned Bass boost on. It seemed to have more presence and filled the room better. We prefered Enhanced Stereo for classical music because of the larger soundstage.
In all the ARIS recreated sound more faithfully than any other wireless speakers we have listened to. There are other wireless solutions that cost less but none that sound as good.
HT Guys Top 5 HDTVs for less than $1,000
A week doesn’t go by without the HT Guys receiving an email asking us for our opinion on which TV to buy. When we answer those emails it usually requires a little back and forth to understand the use case for each TV. There are many factors but the biggest two are the size of the screen and the cost of the TV. For this week we thought we would pick five HDTVs that you would be proud to showcase in your home. The two hard requirements for the list were size, each TV had to be 50 inches or greater, and cost, each TV could not cost more than $1,000. The TVs can be found almost everywhere but some models may only be available online.
#5 Panasonic VIERA TC-P50ST60 50-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV (Includes 2 Pairs of 3D Active Glasses) $999
In our opinion the Panasonic ST60 produces the best picture of the bunch. We put it at the bottom of the list because it is the most expensive and only has a 50 inch screen. It is a smart TV with 3D. The TV has deep blacks and vivid colors and won’t fade off angle.
#4 VIZIO E551i-A2 55.0-Inch 1080p 120Hz Smart LED HDTV $828
Vizio came on the scene with low cost TVs that may not have been the best in terms of quality and performance. Since its inception Vizio has made strides in both areas producing quality HDTVs at reasonable prices. The E551i-A2 is a direct lit LED so it can achieve better black levels than most edge lit or CCFL LCDs. The picture is clear, bright, and sharp. This HDTV does not support 3D but does have VIZIO Internet Apps.
#3 LG Electronics 50LA6200 50-Inch Cinema 3D 1080p 120Hz LED-LCD HDTV with Smart TV and Four Pairs of 3D Glasses $879
Like VIZIO LG has come a long way in terms of quality and performance. This model gets a slight edge over the VIZIO because its 3D and comes with four pairs of glasses. The TV has excellent picture quality, good black levels, and accurate colors.
#2 Samsung UN55FH6030 55-Inch 1080p 120Hz 3D LED HDTV $848
In the “Old” days of HDTV Samsung ruled the roost. Today its not much different. The top five best selling TVs at Amazon are Samsungs. Actually six of the top ten TVs carry a Samsung label. The UN55FH6030 is the only TV on our list without any “Smart” features. But no worries, you can always add an AppleTV or Roku box for that. What you do get is a TV that produces a very good picture after some minor tweaking. Be sure to turn off the Eco Sensor and the Auto Motion Plus and while you are at it be sure to take this and every TV off of the default settings.
#1 Panasonic TC-P50S60 50-Inch 1080p 600Hz Plasma HDTV $650
You knew our number one pick was going to be a plasma right? This model does not come with the NeoPlasma Black like our number 5 TV, so why is it our number one pick? Simply put, Value! Even though the TV does not sport NeoBlack, its black levels are outstanding. The TV has great contrast, depth and color. You would expect to pay a few hundred dollars more for a picture like this. The TV is technically not a “Smart” TV since it only supports online movie services like Netflix. It also does not have 3D. But who cares! Why pay for features you won’t use. If you simply want a great looking TV for less than $700 take a look at the TC-P50S60!