The cord's days are numbered. The newest versions of both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have caught up to the needs of the most demanding of audio and video electronics makers, and they are making it easier than ever for consumers to take advantage.
Even though there isn't much 4K ultra high-definition content available, the latest Wi-Fi connections -- 802.11 ac, for the geeks among you -- can handle streaming it from sources like Netflix (which has committed to 4K), Amazon Prime, HBO, and some 2,500 other online video providers. The three-month-old Roku 4 ($129.99, www.psakc.com), from the pioneer of streaming set-top boxes, works with both 4K and standard HDTVs, and features voice search and a remote with an earphone plug to keep your viewing private.
Meanwhile, Bluetooth wireless technology has improved to the point where even high-end audio firms feel they are able to cut the cord without sacrificing sound quality. The new Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II ($279.95, www.incentiveconcepts.com) feature a 15-hour battery, intuitive controls, and the ability to simultaneously pair with two devices -- for example, an iPad and your smartphone. Bowers & Wilkins, whose speakers are used by professionals like Abbey Road recording studio and leading film-audio firm Skywalker Sound, just released the Zeppelin Wireless speaker ($699.99, email@example.com). An upgrade of its iconic, compact stereo system, it holds a pair of tweeters and drivers and a 6.5-inch-long throw subwoofer, as well as improved digital signal processing.
Bowers & Wilkins
Relaunched this past summer with a vastly improved 300 pixels-per-inch high-resolution e-ink screen, the Kindle Paperwhite ($119, www.LoyaltyWorks.com) sets the standard for e-readers. Features include a backlit screen that keeps it readable at night without disturbing partners, yet is fully readable on the beach, and free downloads via AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots.
The wireless, third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat ($249, www.rymaxinc.com) automatically learns homeowners' schedules and temperature preferences to keep houses comfortable and energy bills lower, saving customers 10 to 15 percent on heating and cooling bills. An app lets you control it and view conditions when out of town from smartphone, tablet, or computer.