Playing MP3’s over a stereo system

I received an email from a friend asking about how to do the above. There are many different solutions and here is a quick summary of the options.

1.)Attach a computer to your stereo — Yes, you could take a computer and attach it to your stereo via those red and white cables. You could then use a media player to output the music to the receiver. The problem is that this might be hard to control remotely.

Pros: Well understood technology, does not require any new software or HW.
Cons: Expensive, difficult to control remotely

2.) Attach an MP3 player to your stereo — This solution could be similar to the one above. That is just attach the headphone jack of the MP3 player to the stereo, but there are other more elegant solutions. For example you could purchase dedicated doc that stays connected to the stereo and just drop the MP3 player on it. DLO makes a particularly cool one that provides a remote, allows you to dock the MP3 easily and outputs a display to the TV so can manage the whole thing via the TV.

Pros: Can use existing MP3 player, relatively simple
Cons: Requires an MP3 player, May require additional cost, Cannot use MP3 player and stereo simultaneously

3.) Dedicated media extender box — In my mind, this is the most elegant and functional solution. Of course, it also happens to the most expensive. What this solution entails is buying a dedicated remote MP3 playing device (RMPD). My favorite options here are the Roku Soundbridge and the Slim Device Squeezebox. Note that there are many other manufacturers of similar devices. These devices essential act as remote control stations and output for your MP3 collection. In order to make these work, they must be connected to your home network. This is not an issue in today’s wireless environment where they can connect seamlessly without any need for cables. You then run a special program on your computer that categorizes all your music and talks to the RMPD. You then can use a remote (included with the device) and control the RMPD without every having to touch your computer. You can typically run many different RMPD’s off of one computer and they call both play simultaneously and share the same MP3 library. IMO, this is the best and most elegant solution.

Pros: Does not require MP3 player, Can easily stream to multiple locations, Easiest to use.
Cons: Expensive, Requires computer to be on, Requires software to be installed on your computer

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