When we talk about the “connected home,” one aspect of that concept is the proliferation of connected devices throughout the home. I’m talking about smartphones, game devices, ebook readers, tablet devices, console game systems, laptops, desktop computers, television sets, not to mention audio systems, home theater systems, and various media players. Last night, while rain inundated our entire state (flooding large swaths of it), my family—fortunately on high ground—enjoyed a quiet night indoors, and at one point I glanced around, while typing away on my laptop, and beheld my wife uploading a photo to Facebook on her Android phone, my eldest daughter researching something weird on our Surface tablet, my youngest daughter playing a game on her Nintendo DS, and my dog tentatively tapping his paws against my wife’s Kindle.
It’s a very different world from when I was a kid, and although a part of me—while watching my family immersed in their various forms of technology—thinks that maybe something has been lost in this technological revolution at home, it’s undoubtedly also true that we’ve gained a remarkable new way of life. We have so much at our fingertips that just wasn’t available a generation ago. My daughters, rising through the ranks at school, literally have all the information in the world at the tips of their fingers. My wife, never before a particularly voracious reader, is now consuming books every night thanks to the convenience of her Kindle. As a journalist, my work is made immeasurably easier by the ease with which research can happen. And with far-flung grandparents and other extended family, we’re lucky to be able to video-chat over long distances.
Rather than hassling with cassettes or LPs (although I have a nostalgic love for those)—and without needing to hold up her portable tape recorder to her radio speaker, as my wife did as a teenager—we have access to high-definition digital music at the touch of a button. Rather than see physical books clutter our homes on shelves and tabletops (although I’m a devout worshiper at the altar of the hardcover book), we can hold a thousand books on a tiny chip. Rather than rely on a clunky video recorder, our digital HD DVR can record just about any program we want, and our video subscriptions services fill in all the other gaps. Rather than bother with playing board games or card games with each other, families can split apart and enjoy—individually—any number of graphics-heaving, immersive strategy games, with headphones on, completely divorced from family and reality.
Oh, see, that’s one area where we’ve lost something, I guess.
(Read the rest at Residential AV Presents: Connected Home.)