Q We want to connect a Blu-ray player to the Internet to stream Netflix and thought we could use our wireless router. We tried a few players with built-in wireless but they can barely see the wireless signal and it cannot hold a connection. I'm considering getting an extender to beef up the signal from the router but was hoping there might be a Blu-Ray player that has a decent wireless card. Do you have any recommendations?
A I do not know of any formal tests comparing Blu-ray player WiFi range, and have not done any testing myself so I can't recommend a player based on those criteria. There is an easy workaround available so it should not be hard for you to connect any player to the Internet.
If you look on the back of a Blu-ray player you will find an Ethernet port. You can connect this port to a powerline adapter. A powerline adapter typically comes with two identical modules. One plugs into an AC outlet near your modem and the other plugs into an outlet near the device. Connect the first adapter to your modem with an Ethernet cable and connect the other to your Blu-ray player. The powerline adapter will transmit the Internet signal over your home's electrical wiring. I've used this system to connect my own players to the Internet and it works well.
Many different brands of powerline adapters are available. I have had good luck with the Netgear brand. A complete system with two adapters can be purchased for under $60.
Of course, you can use a powerline adapter to connect a computer or audio receiver to the Internet as well. With so many devices, from radios to refrigerators, featuring Internet connectivity these days, a powerline adapter can be a very useful tool.Plasma no longer power hog
Q I have noticed your recent recommendations for plasma TVs vs. LED or LED-LCD. Do you have any information on the differences in power consumption between similar sized sets?
A I wrote a very detailed column about this subject, which you can find at tinyurl.com/9mlp5bo. Another article that you may find interesting can be found at plasmatvbuyingguide.com/hdtv/plasmatv-green.html. In a nutshell, although plasma TVs were once power hogs the difference is no longer dramatic and in some cases plasma TVs consume less power than similarly sized LCD counterparts. In cases where plasma costs more, the extra may be about $1 per month. I recently wrote a column where I said reliability should not be an issue when comparing LCD vs. plasma sets, as both technologies are very reliable. The same can be said for power consumption as both technologies are now very competitive. Buy the set you like best, whether LCD or plasma. It should prove very reliable as well as energy-efficient.