Is there such a thing as a home technology consultant?

My wife and I are in our early 60s and are not technophobes but are techno-ignorant.

We both recognize that we need a better integrated, capable and efficient sound/TV/internet system. We have been following this thread: Cut the cable and it feels so good!

and it is informative. But, the ideal thing for us would be for an objective expert (with no ties to any specific tech company or service provider) come into our house, scope out our needs and the configuration of the house and our current equipment, hear us out and provide, for his or her fee, some recommendations.

Does such a function exist?

Depending on where you live, there may be independent stores that sell audio/video systems such as home theaters, music systems, and such like. If you do an internet search for “audio equipment dealers” you may find such a store that would be willing to give you such a consultation.

Definitely but, as Bootb says, they’re likely going to be tied to a company trying to sell you their equipment and installation services.

If you know of a reliable general contractor, they may be able to point you in the right direction. Many home remodels are going to involve some kind of integrated entertainment system.

But depending on your needs, the answer might be way more simpler than you’re thinking. For example, “integrating” your television with your internet is as simple as plugging a Roku unit into the TV. No need to pay somebody to tell you that (unless you want to pay me for telling you, of course).

Here’s a fundamental issue for us - we have a 2009 vintage flat screen TV without Bluetooth so we can’t “cast” from our PC to this TV as it currently is. Would a plugged-in Roku add that capability to our TV in addition to, and/or part of the Roku’s function?

A Roku is a device that accesses your home WiFi. It’s essentially its own little computer. You don’t need a PC at all.

Does your TV have a USB port in the back?

ETA: Actually, it can plug into an HDMI port as well.

Yes it does, so that is doable. And your description of Roku being a small PC is more or less what I suspected - so thanks for that info.

You should be good to go then. And I was a little off above. The important port is the HDMI - that’s the input. The USB is for power.

For the sake of completeness, the Amazon Fire TV stick is also well regarded, but I have a Roku myself. My understanding is that for 90% of people they’re basically identical.

I’m not an expert, but I have the impression that FireSticks or AppleTV devices would pretty much handle all the integration/broadcasting you’d need, depending on your ecosystem. I’ve got a Firestick and it’s always offering to move stuff from my phone or laptop to my TV.

Gee, we just sort of turned the 55 inch tv into a computer by plugging a desktop into it, wireless trackball and keyboard - we cut the cable, we subscribe to Amazon Prime, Netflix and we have Britbox, Acorn TV and I think Showtime [or maybe HBO?] through Amazon Prime. We did have Disney + for a year, but let it lapse because we just didn’t use it enough to make it worth the monthly nick. When we move to Nevada we are going to be in an apartment so we won’t be adding speakers for that upgraded sound system [we believe in being polite to our neighbors] but when we finally get around to building our house we will upgrade to a much larger TV and making the living room basically a home theater and doing a decent sound system because the space will be about 30 feet x 30 feet with cathedral ceilings.

I seem to remember a couple years ago I saw something Buzzfeed picked up from one of the tech pages a discussion on integrating Alexa [?] and home automation [lights and plugs] and security [ring and one of the app based alarm systems] but my google-fu is weak today. Not sure if that is what you are looking for exactly, but maybe Wired has forums that might be helpful?

Don’t you have friends/family members who would do this for you? IME, just about anyone you speak with will be influenced by their personal choices/preferences/prejudices. If you go with a store, they will recommend what they sell. If you go with an Apple fan/hater, the will recommend/disparage Apple…

We had considered getting a cheap laptop and keeping it plugged into our TV. My wife went with the AppleTV, realizing it was essentially a computer. We did this step as a part of a reworking of our entire tech - I bought a new laptop, I got all my data off of an computer and an old Droid device, we decided to consolidate our cloud usage… We realized it was very easy to just keep accumulating data and opening new accounts, but that the various providers did not necessarily want to make it easy for us to transfer the data later on. So one reason we went w/ AppleTV is that we have become fully Apple in our tech. Many people would say we are wasting our money for inferior product, but we can afford it and it seems to work for us.

Another thing is, to some extent, your end result will be limited by your weakest link. So, you might get a new Roku, then you’ll need new cables, then will you want a new TV? When we used our computer to stream TV, I think we had crappy cables, as the TV image would periodically crap out. My new laptop required a special adapter to connect to the TV - or whatever other device.

You may wish to decide whether you want to pursue incremental steps, or jump in whole hog. For example, I THINK we had SOME capability thru our Blu-ray player, but we had the $ and preferred to get a new device. And we have an old digital antenna which pulls down quite a bit of stuff.

Good luck.

I don’t know that it exists, but I figure it has to. I had briefly considered going into business for myself doing that very thing about 20 years ago, but decided against it.

As for casting from a PC to a Roku, here are a couple of links:

How do I use screen mirroring with my Android™ or Windows® device? | Official Roku Support

How to Cast to Roku TV from PC or Mobile (

Should be pretty easy; our Roku has been nearly foolproof in my experience and most of the issues we’ve encountered have been related to the streaming carrier apps themselves.

After the debacle with my 80 year old in-laws receiving a Portal as a gift and their inability to set it up, or indeed even use it once it was, I’m convinced there’s a niche to be filled.

This service does exist, but it’s very expensive compared to the price of most consumer grade electronics. Unless you’re going to spend $10+k on your home theater, it’s likely not worth it. The problem is that unless you’re going to buy the $500 mesh wireless network and the $5k television, paying someone $150/hour to tell you whether to buy the $100 router or the $150 one, or the $600 vs the $800 television just doesn’t make sense.

The Wirecutter (previously independent, now owned by the New York Times) is a very good source for tech product recommendations. I am more knowledgeable about some tech/product areas than others, but I have been pretty much blindly following The Wirecutter for years because in the areas where I do know my stuff, they recommend the same thing that I know is the best choice like 95% of the time.