As I’m writing this, it’s mid-December and rapidly starting to feel like winter, at least by Tucson, AZ standards (i.e. the high dropped below 70°F!). But soon enough Spring will be in the air, and we’ll all be spending a lot more time outdoors. If you live in an area like Tucson, you’re crazy if you don’t spend a lot of time outdoors! But all your fun electronics are indoors – should you bring them outdoors as well?
There are many options for enjoying your electronics outdoors. The easiest of which is probably the modern Bluetooth wireless speaker. Although not completely waterproof, many of these are designed to be at least water-resistant, and they generally have a signal range long enough to connect to your indoor system, or to your cell phone at a minimum.
But if you want a bit higher fidelity, you’re still in luck! Modern outdoor speaker systems have come a long way over the last 10 years or so. In the old days you were limited to a couple speakers that you hung under the patio. Now, you can move the sound farther out into the yard with completely weatherproof speakers. Many of these are designed to look like rocks and blend into the landscaping. But my favorites are the satellite-subwoofer systems that look like small landscaping lights. You simply “plant” the subwoofer underground, so all you see sticking up is a small pipe with a cap on the top. Then you place two or more satellite speakers around the listening area, and presto, you have full, top-quality sound that doesn’t compete with the aesthetics of the landscaping.
If you want to do more than listen, there are plenty of ways to watch as well. My favorite is the modern outdoor TV. Unlike a traditional television, these units have been specifically designed to work in the outdoors. They are brighter, to overcome the sun’s glare, and they are also weatherproofed, so they can hold up to the elements. Regular TVs simply won’t hold up well outdoors unless they’re 100% protected from the weather.
Another fun option is the outdoor theater. There is nothing like watching a movie outdoors, even from your inflatable lounge chair, floating on the pool! There are many approaches to this goal - too many to list here – but they all generally involve a portable movie screen and a projector. The key is to provide a cinematic experience with a large image size. I’ve seen everything from a $200 6-foot inflatable movie screen to a $400,000, 12-foot direct-LED screen that rises out of the pool deck!
Controlling the System
Taking command of your system outdoors is now easier than ever. In the more advanced systems, everything is hardwired to your indoor system. So, you can generally use the same remote control or touch screens that you would have used indoors. Some companies even make wireless remote controls if you want to bring yours outside. But the easiest and often the best remote control is simply your smart phone. A fully integrated home system should allow you to control everything – indoors or outdoors – with a few presses on your phone or tablet!
There is no reason that you have to separate your music listening, TV watching and outdoor fun. With a well-designed outdoor system, you can have the best of both worlds. The quality of modern outdoor systems rivals that of their indoor cousins, so you don’t even have to compromise on audio or video quality! If you have a nice back yard, you owe it to yourself to add some outdoor technology – you won’t regret it!