Tech: Wireless speakers, word app

Music in the air: wireless speakers have crossed quality threshold

In the continuing march to eliminate cables from home entertainment systems, speakers seem set to be the next component to go wireless.

Wireless speakers allow music to be broadcast anywhere in a home and have now reached the point where they keep even the fussiest music fans happy.

"There are heavy-duty wi-fi speakers that can keep demanding fans happy," says Andreas Frank, an editor at German industry magazine Connected Home.

But consumers have to figure out which of four different technical standards works best for them before making the plunge.

The choices are between proprietary standards used by the speaker manufacturers Sonos and Teufel, Airplay for Apple devices and a universal standard, DLNA. All transmit music well, but have different standards for speaker construction that will matter to some.

Also, choosing a system is likely to lock you into that standard. Sonos speakers will not work with components from other systems. Teufel advertises that its will, though testers have found that claim to not always be true.

On the other hand, the testers says Sonos and Teufel have one big advantage: setting them up is nearly foolproof. Opting for Sonos or Teufel will usually mean an investment of 600 euros (825 United States dollars) or more when buying from European stores.

DLNA speakers are much cheaper, but can have compatibility issues.

Apple's Airplay can sometimes allow components from non-Apple manufacturers to fit in. But there are no guarantees. Airplay also has a reputation for only working with more expensive systems.

Be prepared to invest at least 200 euros for wireless speakers, says Frank. Otherwise, you will have thin, unnatural sounds.

Setting up and managing the system is generally possible even for the non-technically inclined.

Signals are usually not disrupted, though it might be a problem in an apartment building where multiple wireless networks are within range. If that is the case, consider a newer wi-fi router that works in the five-gigahertz range, which is less congested.

If problems persist, check if your router is close enough to the speakers.

Frank notes that a lot of wi-fi speakers include connections for televisions and stereo systems, so you are not restricted to listening to music from your computer or smartphone. Some models even offer direct links to online streaming services like Spotify.

Word processing app designed for team players

Quip is a new app that lets users create documents on their tablet, smartphone or PC and then share them with others.

Its interface resembles services like Google Drive, but it has some functions that go further.

For example, it allows documents to be edited when the device – even a smartphone - is offline. There’s also a chat function to help when documents are being edited by a group, as well as a PDF converter.

Quip is ad-free and free for private users. To use it, one must set up an account, which requires submitting an email address.

Tips: Control size of widgets in Android

Widgets – programmes that show vital data or serve as a shortcut to important tasks – come pre-installed with a lot of Android apps. If you have got them on your screen, there’s no need to make do with the widget's preset display size.

Most of them can be resized by hoding one's finger on top of the widget until a frame appears. That can be used to resize the widget. One short tap later and the size will be the new default.

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