Here's a question we're often asked: what's an easy way to stream audio around the home? If you're a Mac user, the answer would be as simple as replying, "Airplay". But what about Windows users who want to be able to play music from their laptop to the home stereo or TV?
We've been eyeballing the streaming audio market for quite some time now and have found a number of options out there that may fit the bill of being both non-iTunes and Windows compatible.
Windows 7 users can wirelessly stream music around the house using Windows Media Player to a DLNA Certified device. An example is the Sony HomeShare Network Speaker (shown above) or a DLNA equipped television:
- Click the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Media Player.
- If the Player is currently open and you're in Now Playing mode, click the Switch to Library button in the upper-right corner of the Player.
- Click Stream, and then click Turn on home media streaming.
- Turn on home media streaming won't be available on the Stream menu if streaming is already turned on.
- On the Media streaming options page, click Turn on media streaming. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
- Click OK.
More information about How to stream your media to devices and computers using Windows Media Player.
Add-on Hardware Solutions:
Audioengine W1: This $149 USB-powered dongle streams anything you send at it. In comparison, it is better than Apple's AirPlay solution since it's not iTunes restricted. However, you may have to teach them how to switch sound sources in the Windows Control Panel when they want to stream vs. listen to music on their computer.
NuForce Air DAC: Nuforce's option may be slightly more expensive, but since it's running on the 2.4Ghz frequency band, what you get is longer range and more stable signal. Also, seeing as it's NuForce we're talking here, audio quality should be top notch if not bit-accurate. You can also string additional receivers together (up to 4) to create the ultimate connected home audio experience. $149 for Receiver, $59 for USB Transmitter, $79 for iOS Transmitter; the NuForce Air DAC should be available sometime mid-March.
Alternatively, if you're okay dipping into the Apple pool of hardware, you can still use AirFoil to stream any type of content around the house onto an Apple Airport Express router or an Apple TV without having to be restricted with iTunes.