Stupefied by the math of trying to install a home network? Put down those Wireless for Dummies tomes: Eos says it has it all figured out with its latest series of Converge products that streams audio throughout the home without a wireless network.
The new Converge transmitter and receiver modules use 2.4-gigahertz wireless technology like a cordless phone. The modules, $99 each, send audio from your computer's music library to a sound system elsewhere in the home with the ease of, oh, setting a VCR clock.
Other additions to the Converge series include a too-cute amplified receiver ($149), a tiny cube combining an Eos receiver with a digital stereo amplifier that powers a pair of speakers, such as the equally new Eos bookshelf loudspeakers ($99 a pair). With a transmitter connected to a computer and the amplified receiver partnered with speakers up to 150 feet away, you'll create a den or bedroom audio system that's fed music from the home-office PC.
The simplicity, however, isn't cheap. The transmitter-receiver combo, at $200, is twice the price of Apple's Airport Express, a wireless device that joins an existing home network and, among other feats, transmits CD-quality music from a networked computer (PC or Mac) to any room (and any awaiting audio system) in the house.
Eos, oddly, encourages combining Converge products with a home network because the owner could then use Apple's free Remote application that turns a WiFi-enabled iPod Touch or iPhone into a remote control for the Converge system.
Here's a closer look:
A Converge system needs a minimum of one transmitter and one receiver. (A single transmitter, however, can send music to up to four receivers.)
Each module might be as big as two decks of cards piled high, with a snub-nose antenna pointing upward.
The transmitter delivered music from my iTunes library connected to a MacBook in my den, through a brick wall and, about 80 feet away, to the receiver sitting next to a Tivoli PAL portable radio in the garage. Once I opened iTunes, all I had to do was select "Converge USB" as the MacBook's audio output.
With the receiver connected to the PAL's auxiliary input, the radio became my private music station as the Converge beamed a musical soundtrack to one botched handyman project after another.
Think of the cute little blockhead amplified receiver as a 15-watts-per-channel stereo amplifier with magical, wireless powers.
As it stands, it suffered from too-frequent dropouts, even with the transmitter's range extender mode activated. When I unplugged the router, the dropouts immediately decreased although they did not stop until I relocated the amplified receiver.