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Picking brawn over brains

The masses are going for big screens before connectivity.

Pam Carroll

The masses are going for big screens before connectivity.

I just got back from a trip to Phoenix, Arizona. The friends I stayed with there have just moved into a new home in a new subdivision - one in which the developers offer home buyers a choice of four different floor plans. I was keen to have a look at the display homes to see what types of new technology or 'smart home' features would be available.

Guess what? The connected home - wired or wireless - was not in evidence.  My friend works in IT, but she installed her own wireless router; the developer did not have any kind of integrated network as part of the base package.

These savvy developers are acutely aware of what sells in each price range - and what they have added are custom-designed wall cavities for big screen TVs in the family/rumpus rooms of each model. And surprise, surprise, - the first appliance my hosts bought for their new home was a 55-inch (140cm) rear projection TV.  A 'build it and they will buy' scenario.

I expect this is the way forward for most of us when it comes to the digital home.  We'll jump in with a big screen TV first, and then work our way toward media streaming, Media Center PCs, genuine electronic automation, etc., at a later stage when the budget allows.  Unfortunately, however, if you don't do it at the construction stage, you're missing a golden opportunity to put in the wiring and power infrastrucutre that you'll eventually need for more sophisticated systems.   

It's hard not to be struck by the 'super-size' of so many things in the US - and I've got one more 'big' technology tale to tell.  I was actually in the States on my way to attend a wedding on the beach in Mexico, some four hours drive south of Phoenix.  Many of the party goers assembled to drive south together and, of course, there were several dual cab utes (pick-up trucks in local lingo) in the convoy.

I went to greet an old acquaintence in one such large monster and was floored by the mobile entertainment set up in place in the back seat for her two teenage boys. Nothing along the lines of the Sony MV-65ST DVD Station or the Toshiba SD-P1400 like you might expect in this country. Why bother with those things when a full size 12-inch TV and standard PS2 console fit nicely between the front passenger seats?  The kids had enough games on board to drive across the whole continent. I was so gobsmacked with the set up that I started looking for their bar fridge and neglected to figure out how they powered the gear, but that was apparently no problem.

What do you think? Is bigger better? Is a big screen TV first on your wish list? Would you like to drive a vehicle big enough to hold your home TV and games console? Let me know your thoughts below!