Marc Saltzman, a leading
high-tech reporter, contributes
to more than three dozen
appears on radio and TV,
and is the author of more
than 12 books. He’s on
Twitter at @marc_saltzman
Saltzman will answer selected
questions in this column.
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The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
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IF YOU WANT to see how fast technology has
evolved, look no further than home entertainment.
Small, fat and pixelated tube TVs have been
replaced by ridiculously thin, huge and ultra-high-
definition models. Video games, which once fea-
tured blocky stick figures and crude sound effects,
If it’s been a while since you
looked at music options for your
home, consider this month’s
Tech Connection column a
primer on what’s new and cool.
Where once there were
wires, now there’s Bluetooth.
Bluetooth is a wireless
technology that links
your music source
to remote speakers.
These speakers come
in all shapes, sizes and
colors, and most are
If your smartphone, tablet or laptop has
built-in Bluetooth technology
(very likely), you can stream
your tunes, wirelessly, to a
nearby compatible speaker in
your home, on a porch or in the
backyard. Before Bluetooth
speakers became popular, speaker docks required
you to snap in a phone based on specific make or
model (usually Apple products). Bluetooth is a universal standard, so it doesn’t matter what brand or
operating system you use.
And unlike the case with the speaker docks of
yesteryear, you can still use the device while listening to music—say, for reading messages, browsing
the web or playing a game—instead of leaving it
docked in the speaker.
Bluetooth speakers won’t interfere with any other
wireless technologies in your home, such as cordless
phones, microwave ovens or Wi-Fi gadgets. While
newer Bluetooth devices might have a much bigger
range—comparable to Wi-Fi, in fact—many Bluetooth speakers need to be within 30 feet of the music
source. Many Bluetooth speakers are rechargeable
and can last a number of hours before they need to be
plugged in. Many of these speakers have an integrated
microphone if a call comes in.
Sound quality can vary with Bluetooth speakers, and some are quite impressive.
Better TV audio
Another area in your home worthy of upgrading audio: wherever you watch TV.
Today’s televisions are bigger, thinner and
sharper than ever—and the original exorbitant
prices have dropped significantly. But the audio on
these TVs, while good, can be much better.
The traditional option has been to add a full-fledged home theater system, which typically
includes an audio-video receiver and
speakers (including a subwoofer)
spread around the TV room.
You can indeed get excellent
theater-like sound with such a
setup. But an easier option—
still with excellent results—is
a sound bar.
speakers, which can
be placed on or just
below your TV or
be mounted on a
wall, deliver (or,
with some models,
They connect easily
to the TV, usually
through an optical,
The first generation of
sound bars had built-in subwoofers to make sure you got
those deep low-frequency
bass effects. But many now
come with a wireless subwoofer that can be placed
elsewhere in the room. And some come with actual
rear speakers to create a true five-channel system in
the room. In some systems, the rear speakers can be
powered by the subwoofer.
Sound bars are easy to install, and as noted
they put out high-quality audio. They also offer the
added convenience of serving as a speaker system
for your music. They feature Bluetooth wireless
streaming, so you can play music from your
phone or tablet. Some sound bar systems are
Wi-Fi enabled, meaning you can use an internet streaming service to play music on them or
sync them to other speakers throughout the home.
And some Wi-Fi sound bars have built-in Google
Cast technology, allowing you to easily stream
your favorite music, radio or podcasts from your
It’s been fascinating to see the advancements in
home audio technology in recent years. Today’s
options offer convenience and great sound quality,
at affordable prices. C
Great audio options for your home
Costco offers a variety of
Bluetooth speakers and sound
bars in the warehouses and