Your home Wi-Fi network can do so much more than just serve as a means of wireless internet for your laptop and phone. Video streaming, audio streaming, data transfer, security and surveillance, wireless printing; it's all possible over a Wi-Fi network. To start with, all you need is a stable internet connection and a Wi-Fi router , placed in an appropriate location so as to allow maximum coverage. The range of the wireless router defines the extent of your home network.
Then, depending on what you want to do, you can buy and configure any of these wireless capable devices to smarten up your network. Here's how you can put your existing home Wi-Fi network to good use.
For your TV in your bedroom
A network-ready media player like the WD TV Live (Rs 8,000)will play and upscale almost any multimedia file you load up from a connected USB drive. The upscaling process works to increase the quality of standard definition video files to better match the HD resolution of your flat panel TV. With the optional Wi-Fi adapter, you can watch YouTube videos on your TV, or stream multimedia content stored on any PC on the same network.
For the family room
The family room with a projector and a Sony PlayStation3 (Rs 19,990) is ideal for both big-screen gaming or entertainment. The PS3 has Wi-Fi built in, so it can easily connect to your network. To watch movies on the PS3, you could connect a hard drive to it, but you'll be bogged down by limited file format support. Instead, install the free PS3 Media Server on any PC connected on the same network.
No configuration is needed; once the software is installed and running on the PC, it finds the PS3 on the same network. From the PS3, you can browse and playback all the media files stored on the PC. And it also does on-the-fly video conversions, so you don't have to worry about what format the videos are stored in.
For your study or home office
The wireless router kept here is the hub of all activity. A wireless printer (Rs 11,995 onwards) can be configured to all PCs in the house over Wi-Fi. A desktop PC kept here can function as the central storage for all multimedia files. Note that the desktop PC would need to have a wireless card (or USB wireless adapter) in order to connect to the Wi-Fi network. Alternately, it can also be connected to the Wi-Fi modem with an Ethernet cable if not placed too far away. The functionality remains the same.
For the children's room
The children's PC can be monitored remotely via monitoring software like PCPandora ($69.95, pcpandora.com). This PC will also be able to print directly to the printer in the study. This PC will also need a wireless card or USB Wi-Fi adapter installed in order to access the network.
For the living/dining area
To listen to some soothing music while eating dinner or entertaining, an audio streamer like the Logitech Squeezebox Classic (Rs 19,995) can wirelessly stream MP3 files from any PC on the same network or from thousands of internet radio stations. Alternately, a Sony PlayStation Portable (Rs 8,490) or a Wi-Fi-enabled smartphone can also be used to stream music from any of the thousands of internet radio stations — PSP with the built in Internet Radio app, and the smartphone with any one of hundreds of apps like Yahoo! Music, Mobbler or Last!FM.