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Going Digital In The Garden

Man With Tablet

While it has always been possible to wheel a TV outside or catch up with some paperwork in the garden, our love affair with technology demands that we can access digital services when we like, where we like.

Whether you want to watch a live sports event, check out that new playlist or simply send an e-mail, this guide explores how we can adopt digital technology into our outdoor living spaces.

Outdoor Visual Systems

Summer brings a myriad of sporting and prestige events, and even on a sunny day there are certain occasions when you simply have to be in front of a television screen.  But fear not – there’s no need to sacrifice one for the other. Modern technology ensures that you can enjoy both the sunshine and whichever event is simply compulsive viewing for you.

The big challenge for the TV Industry is produce significant volumes of wireless enabled, internet connected television sets. When that day arrives it will be a game-changer, though we still have some way to go. Until then, we have two options to facilitate that alfresco screening session:

Wireless technology can help you out a lot here, allowing you to access your indoor cable or satellite feed, DVD player or even your games console. You will need a digital sender attached to your indoor equipment, and a wireless enabled TV.

Alternatively, if you are happy with terrestrial TV channels, simply attach the TV to a portable digital aerial / receiver set up. Perfect for Wimbledon on the BBC!

When it comes to your actual television set, carrying your indoor TV outside might appear to be the easiest option, but you can do some serious damage to your gogglebox.  Television in GardenNot only is there a likelihood of exposure to moisture, but also damage caused by excessive heat and sunlight. Indoor TV’s just aren’t designed for the range of temperatures you will experience in your garden.

If you are serious about enjoying some screen time in your outdoor living space, you should consider investing in a proper outdoor television. Costing from around £2,000 upward, these might not be cheap but can handle pretty much anything the elements can throw at them…or whatever you throw as you watch your team crash out on penalties.

Here in the UK, the leading supplier is Aqualite Outdoor. Keep your eyes peeled for special offers.

Outdoor Audio Systems

Garden SpeakersSure, you can connect your laptop, tablet or smartphone to a small portable speaker. However, these should be used as intended…in the hotel room, the camping trip. If you are going to entertain in your outdoor living space, you need a decent outdoor audio system.

If you only make one purchase for your audio pleasure, make it a pair of decent outdoor speakers. If your indoor audio system has wireless functionality you are free to leave your sensitive system components safely indoors and transmit the sound to weather resistant speakers. Alternatively, you will need to consider a hard wired system. I recommend you read this guide to outdoor speakers.

Just be careful not to upset your neighbours!

The Internet Enabled Garden

With all this recent good weather, we all like to relax in our gardens with a good book or newspaper, or maybe catch up with some work . We’re also all aware that the book or newspaper is being replaced by your laptop or other device. Yet our enjoyment can be blighted by patchy wi-fi coverage, and constant service drop-offs can be as frustrating as a freak hailstorm at your birthday barbecue. You therefore need to ensure your setup is fully optimised.

Most wi-fi routers claim to operate at a range of up to 100 meters, provided there are no obstacles for the signal to pass through. However, with outdoor living spaces, this is rarely the case. These obstacles, and the distance between the router and garden, will determine the strength of your connection.

But even if your wi-fi has to pass through numerous internal and external walls, there is still plenty you can do to power that greased lightning connection into your garden.

The first and most obvious course of action is to clear as many obstacles as possible. This could mean opening interior doors or moving your router higher to clear items of furniture. Don’t forget to leave any windows or patio doors open!

If you’re happy getting a bit technical, you can try altering the actual settings on your router. Have a look at your instruction manual for details of how to log in to your router. Once logged in, try changing the channel which your broadband is broadcasting on. When new, most routers automatically choose their channel.  However, your router could be competing for airspace with other nearby devices on that channel, such as a neighbour’s router. Try selecting a different one to see if performance improves; Wireless Repeaterchannels 1, 6 and 11 tend to offer the best performance.

If you are still experiencing problems, or want to extend your router’s range further, invest in a wireless repeater. These act as a relay between your router and device. Repeaters are inexpensive – prices start from around £20 – and simple to install. Just plug the device into a spare socket somewhere between your outer and garden. Problem solved!

Thanks to digital technology, you have all the outdoor entertainment and work options you need. In fact, you may never want to leave…even with Typhoon Tony baring down on you.

  1. Jackie said:

    Seems the way forward. Just need warm weather. Good idea if gadgets easy to move in or outdoors or in a covered space. Even so would probably have to be damp proof.

  2. Nick said:

    Hi Jackie. There’s lots of products out there that are damp / waterproof. For example, weatherproof TV’s, speakers, etc. You can also get waterproof cases for TV’s, in case you don’t want to splash out on a new weatherproof TV (forgive the pun!). You’ll still need to put the equipment in a sheltered spot though, and bring indoor during winter. Good luck!

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