For quite a while now, the computer industry has been trying to bring computer technology into more and more different parts of the home. While the benefits to having access to a home computer in every room of the house can be pretty obvious, consumers have largely rejected technology that would do such a thing. This can be best seen in the repeated pushes (and failures) by the computer industry to make the home computer part of the home entertainment system. In the past, these computers were basically designed to use the living room TV set, instead of a conventional computer monitor- to display their desktops and graphics. The home stereo system would also act as the computer’s speakers, and the keyboard and mouse would connect to the computer wirelessly. The general idea was that the user of such a system would be able to surf the Internet, write email, and get work done all from the comfort of his or her favorite couch or easy chair. Unfortunately, the idea of making the PC part of the home entertainment center hasn’t really caught on among mainstream consumers despite the repeated efforts of the computer industry.
Two technologies that are reaching their maturity are likely to change this situation though. One is the increasing capacity of computer systems to handle video and the other is the increasing capacity of networks to transmit the large amounts of data that make up video. Wireless home networks are already popular in many homes and new technology is making it increasingly feasible to transmit video over wireless networks.
There are a number of devices that are springing up to take advantage of this new found ability to transmit video wirelessly in order to make it- along with other types of media- accessible throughout the house. One of these devices is the Touchsmart PC from Hewlett Packard. The dominating feature of this device is a 19 inch touch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio that will detect touch and allow users to point directly to the icons and menus that they want to access. In a sense the entire screen is like a huge version of the pointer pad on a laptop computer. The Touchsmart PC also comes with a separate mouse and a keyboard that are stored beneath the screen when not in use, but are both wireless to that they can be taken across the room to be used.
The main idea of the the Touchsmart PC is that it will be used in higher traffic areas of the house like the kitchen. That way when members of the family are in the kitchen to cook or eat a meal they’ll be able to quickly and easily access video, music, digital photos, or the Internet. Some of this media could be stored on the Touchsmart PC’s hard drive, accessed from another computer’s hard drive (like possibly HP’s media vault), or of course the Internet. With a price tag of almost $1800 the Touchsmart PC may be a tough sell as a device for most families to buy just as a convenience.
This type of machine, along with others like it that will surely be coming soon, will push the limits of how and where people will enjoy different types of media in their homes in the near future.