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The rise of digital living

01 Jun 2008

Not that long ago the best way to watch a movie at home was to hire a VHS tape from your local video store, and you had the choice of two channels to watch on your TV if all the good movies were already out.

Communicating with someone who was not in the room involved calling them on the phone, writing a letter, or possibly sending a fax. Console games were a mess of wires and cartridges that served up a fairly basic experience. The only people who had PCs in their homes were Buck Rogers and James T Kirk, and if you wanted to buy something you had to visit a shop. All of these activities were disparate,s and the devices used to deliver the information were also separate.

Fast forward to the present day and things have changed a little. A PC in the home is commonplace, music and movies are delivered over the internet, and then around the home on high-speed wireless networks.  You can make a phone call from your PC even when you’re not sitting at it, and instant messaging services like MSN allow worldwide real-time communication.

Using online photo sharing services, photos can now be published on the web within minutes of being taken, or uploaded directly from home storage devices.

The growth of the internet has been one of, if not the biggest, technological advance of recent times, and its ever increasing speeds has enabled these technologies to be delivered to more and more homes. This has opened up new avenues of business for resellers and a whole new range of devices to educate customers about.

A great example of how our day-to-day lives have changed on a broad scale is the use of TradeMe. You don’t have to leave the house and you can buy just about anything you want, anytime you want. The internet has changed the way many people shop, and created a new forum for business to interact with its customers. The internet has also changed the game where entertainment is concerned, which is reflected in sites like iTunes and digiRAMA, as well as in the new advertising models that are springing up.

With broadband growth driving the amount and quality of internet content people access, the question then becomes for resellers, “how can I help my customer get the most out of it in their home”?

Following are some of the issues resellers should consider when talking to customers about the digital experience they want at home. The requirements of a gamer will be different to that of someone who just wants to look at their digital phones.

A tough and fast wireless network

Surfing the internet and sharing a broadband connection requires a router of some description. With home wireless networks now delivering up to 270Mb of secure bandwidth around the home with Wireless-N technology, wireless internet routers are becoming more and more popular. Some homes are cabled, but wireless now delivers such good quality that it is the logical choice for most people.

If a customer’s home network has a mixture of G and N wireless devices on it, a dual band wireless router may be the best solution, as G and N operate on different frequencies and don’t interfere with the others’ performance.

Storing music, photos and movies

If customers are paying money to download music and movies, or wanting to protect irreplaceable photos, then the issue of storing content arises. Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices are now available for the home and can be used as redundant storage running RAID, as media servers for devices like gaming consoles that run Universal Plug and Play, and as scalable storage for media centre PCs. These storage devices are often a lot less expensive than people think and very easy to set-up.

Joining the dots: digital entertainment devices

And finally, the most important consideration is a device which brings all these elements together and creates the digital home. Digital entertainment devices, media centre PCs and gaming consoles offer a number of options as to how all of the content is delivered around the home. The main point, though, is that customers are no longer tied to the PC in their office to look at photos, listen to music or watch movies, they don’t have a lounge full of cables and computers, and they don’t have to be a techo to set-up.  

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