Build a foolproof home-media network—without any wires

It's the PC home entertainment system of the future, and it streams music and HD video to every room in your house. No cables involved!

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Multimedia over coax (MoCA)

Cost: $125 to $150 per node. Pros: MoCA uses existing wiring in your home. Cons: It's pricey, and might not work with coaxial cables that carry satellite TV signals.

Many modern homes are wired throughout with coaxial cable for carrying cable TV programming to each room. Multimedia over coax (MoCA) technology uses these cables to carry network data alongside the television signal. Coaxial cable offers robust construction and electrical shielding, and it has more than enough bandwidth to carry both cable TV signals and ethernet data.

As with powerline networks, you connect the MoCA bridge to your router, but you also connect it to one of your home's existing coaxial cables. In an ideal environment, all the coax cables in your home will originate at a central location and branch out from there to the other rooms. Your router and your MoCA bridge should be located at the point of origin. Install additional MoCA bridges in your entertainment center, den, bedroom, and wherever else you want to add smart TVs, PCs, gaming consoles, or Blu-ray players to your network.

Few consumer MoCA products are on the market. Actiontecs ECB2200 ($125 for a two-pack) is designed for cable TV systems, while the companys ECB2200V ($75 each) is designed to work with Verizons FiOS broadband service.

Be aware that most MoCA bridges are incompatible with satellite TV systems. If you're piping a satellite TV signal through your house via coaxial cables, make sure that you buy a MoCA kit that will work with it.

Whats the right solution for you?

As much as Id like to pick a single wire-free solution and recommend it to everyone, thats just not possible. I will say that the first step to building a really satisfying network is to buy a high-performance router. The performance of your entire network will hinge on the strength of your router. If youre feeling adventurousand can afford itconsider 802.11ac technology. It has knocked my socks off. However, if you dont plan to stream Blu-ray-quality video around your home, 802.11ac is probably overkill.

When it comes to connecting computers to your wireless network, a USB adapter is one of the simplest ways to go. With smart TVs, Blu-ray players, and gaming consoles, you may be better off with a wireless bridge.

Powerline networking is probably the next-easiest system to deploy, because its basically plug and play. But if your home has old or poor-quality wiring, the performance of your network will suffer. And most manufacturers of powerline-network products recommend limiting your network to no more than 16 devices.

Though MoCA sounds like a great idea, it seems to be fading from the DIY market.

The bottom line is that building a home network that can move media all around you home without any new wires is not only possible, but relatively easy.

This story, "Build a foolproof home-media network—without any wires" was originally published by PCWorld.

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