Technology is a crucial part of any mancave worthy of the name, and that is more the case today than it has ever been. From entertainment to automation and from gaming to gadgetry, technology lies at the heart of everything a mancave is about. People might talk cynically about boys and their toys, but if you work hard, you have every right to play hard.
It would be possible to list 30 or 40 gadgets that would be a great addition to your mancave. That, however, is something for another day. The following are the absolute essentials, and if you don’t include these or their equivalent, you might as well turn that mancave into a sewing room right now.
A home assistant
When the Amazon Echo first came out, those in the know confidently dismissed it as a Christmas fad, something that would be forgotten by February. Five years on, Alexa’s fame and popularity has only increased. Furthermore, she has been joined by contemporaries as the likes of Google and Apple realized they had made an almighty misjudgment and been left standing.
Inviting Alexa into the hallowed space that is your mancave brings a whole host of benefits, some genuinely useful and others just plain fun. These range from changing the lights to setting up your home cinema system. The point is that with the Internet of Things, much of your tech can be interconnected. Your home assistant sits at the hub, like the spider in the middle of a web. That’s why this gets pride of place as the first essential piece of tech for your mancave.
The right software
Think about tech and you tend to picture pieces of equipment – screens, headphones, mysterious boxes in a jumble of cables and so on. However, an increasing amount of the most important tech is accessed online, so having the right software in place is absolutely vital.
For gaming enthusiasts, that could be as simple as downloading the right apps so that they are instantly available via the big screen (which we will discuss more in a moment) when you feel a games night coming on. If you fancy a card night, for example, there are all sorts of cool casino gadgets from card shufflers to chip organizers. But let’s be frank, why go through the rigmarole of playing with a physical deck of cards when you can install a casino app or two and have access to hundreds of games, from poker to blackjack to slots, with new ones being added every week?
Before we get onto the topic of that big screen, there’s one other important prerequisite that needs taking care of. It’s fair to say that the first thing many men think about for their mancave is a fridge in which to keep the beer cold. Sure, it might also contain the wine, the soda or indeed the freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice, but let’s not kid ourselves, beer is usually a primary mancave ingredient.
Today, however, a simple fridge or cooler is not going to cut it. Remember, Alexa needs to be able to take full supervisory control of all she surveys so you don’t have to, and that means getting a smart fridge. As well as monitoring the temperature, you can even leave her guarding the contents. A simple contact sensor on the fridge door will allow Alexa to send a message to your smartphone letting you know if anyone goes on a raid when you leave your mancave unattended.
For the mancave that has everything, how about a fridge that brings your drink to you? With a price tag that equates to around $9,000, this incredible R2-D2 walking fridge might be stretching the definition of “essential” but it is certainly the ultimate smart appliance.
A big screen
With the beer, the software and the virtual administrative support taken care of, let’s deal with that screen. Ignore all the nonsense about measuring the size of the room, when it comes to your mancave, it’s a case of big is beautiful. All joking aside, with the latest technology, you can sit practically on top of a high-end TV screen and the resolution still looks crystal clear. The key piece of advice here, then is not to stint on the spec where picture quality is concerned.
With UHD, OLED QLED, 4K, 1080p and all the rest, it is easy to get bogged down in all the terminology and acronyms. This article from Wired gives a good overview of what the different terms mean, and it is well worth a read to give you a little background. Once you’ve done so, however, there is only one way to decide for certain on the best screen and that is the old fashioned way, by heading to your nearest retailer and having a look at each of them in action.
Predictably enough, the more you pay, the better the picture. Be prepared to give the plastic a good work-out, as once you’ve seen the latest QLED in action, you’ll find it tough to settle for anything less. If you are pushing the boat out, you might as well do it in style, so also consider the invisible cable option available on some Samsung models. With just one fiber optic cable running to a control box that can be tucked away out of sight, these TVs don’t even need to be directly plugged into a power supply.
A streaming box
With your screen in place, you can hook up as many peripherals as you like, and whether you go for an Xbox, PlayStation or both is up to you. There is one last piece of tech that is vital, however, for both gaming and viewing purposes, and that is a streaming device.
Samsung might have edged it in the TV stakes, but when it comes to streaming, the Apple TV 4 is hard to beat. It’s geared up for that best-in-class TV display, and has all the essentials like Hulu, Netflix, and the main TV networks. The feature that really sets it apart, though, is MrMC, which allows you to store TV shows, sports games, movies and so on, using any computer on your home network, to view at your leisure.