This story was originally published in the Chicago Tribune Prime Time senior living section.
There are so many convenient ways to listen to music, at home and on the go. You’ll be happy to know that the technology is getting simpler and less expensive too. Here are some gadgets that will allow you to play your music anywhere, from the hiking trail to the living room to the shower.
1. Google Chromecast Audio
Say you have an awesome speaker system, but it won’t connect to your phone, so you can’t play your digital music on it. One tiny device, the Google Chromecast Audio, can make your speaker system Wi-Fi enabled. Simply plug one end of the cable into the speaker’s AUX input, and the other end into the power source. Then connect it to your home Wi-Fi network via the Google Home app. After that, you can use your iPhone, iPad, Android phone, tablet, or laptop to “cast” your favorite songs to your existing speakers. Be sure to check that your speaker’s AUX input is compatible with the Google Chromecast Audio before buying. Available at the Google store, Best Buy, Target and Walmart for $35.
2. Shower radio
The Sangean H201 Waterproof Shower Radio does a lot more than play bath time tunes. It’s a well-designed multifunction machine that has several safety features, which make it a great gadget for outside the shower. For example, the radio receives all seven NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather channels and has a siren function that will alert you to extreme weather conditions or emergencies. The cabinet of the radio is built to be sturdy, so it can accompany you on camping trips, etc. The built-in LED flashlight might come in handy there. Also, the radio is not only showerproof, it will actually float, and is submersible to marine-grade standards. If that weren’t enough, it also has a clock, a timer, and an emergency buzzer. The radio retails for about $65 at appliance stores, computer stores and Amazon.com.
3. Sound Bar
It’s no secret that modern TVs have subpar speakers. That’s because they are made to work with a sound system instead. If you don’t have the time, money or expertise to invest in a sound system, a sound bar is a simpler solution. It’s a long, horizontal speaker that can sit below and in front of the base of your TV, or be mounted elsewhere. It boosts your sound level and quality so you can hear dialog clearly without blasting the TV, which distorts the sound. It’s also great for listening to music. The Vizio SB2920-C6 29-Inch 2.0 Channel Sound Bar is a highly rated unit in the “under $100” category. Simply plug it in to your TV and adjust the volume with its remote. (You might also be able to adjust the volume via your TV remote, depending on compatibility.) The built-in Bluetooth allows you to stream music through your smartphone through the sound bar as well. Retails for about $90-$100 at places where electronics are sold.
4. Amazon Echo Dot
The Echo Dot is a spin-off product from the popular Echo, the hands-free, voice-controlled device that answers your questions and completes internet tasks when you summon it by saying its name, “Alexa.” A palm-sized disc that looks like a hockey puck, Dot covers one room in your house, so it has less range than the Echo. But unlike the Echo, Dot can connect to your speakers or headphones over Bluetooth or through a 3.5 mm audio cable to deliver stereo sound to the speakers you choose. Just like the Echo, Dot connects you to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, tune in radio stations, make calls, set timers, get news and weather, order rides from Uber or pizza from Domino’s, shop Amazon, listen to audiobooks and more. Note: If you already have an Echo, you can add a Dot and the two will work in harmony. Retails for $50 at Amazon.com.
5. Headphone hat
It’s hard to listen to music when you’re out in the cold because earbuds and headphones just don’t fit under hats. Fortunately, Tooks makes hats and headbands with built-in headphones. You just pop on the hat and plug in the cable, or connect with Bluetooth. The hats come in various styles, fabrics and colors for men and women. Styles range from fleece skull caps to woolly knits to hats with pompons on top. Prices range from $25 to $30 depending on the style of hat and whether you select wired headphones or Bluetooth. Headbands cost slightly less. Visit tookshats.com to order.