Never has a nail been hit more squarely on its head than when Charles Arthur wrote his Guardian piece last week about how ‘The digital home hub is finally happening‘:
[Gates and Jobs’s] vision is coming true. Except that it’s not the computer they thought which is at the hub. It’s a rather different one that hadn’t even been considered at the time, using a technology that had only just begun to get traction. That would be the iPod Touch, and Wi-Fi.
At the very moment it popped up in my Twitter stream, I was completing the purchase of something I’ve been looking forward to for literally years: a digital audio solution for the bathroom, previously the only ‘quiet zone’ in the house. But after weeks of looking at expensive, high-end media-sharing solutions, such as the (albeit impressive) Logitech Squeezebox Duet, I’d decided on a much more modest (and ultimately, more powerful?) setup: a Sony iPod dock with DAB Radio (crucially, with external speakers) and an iPod Touch talking to my home wireless network. No PC at the heart of it; no need.
It gives me live digital radio, access to my music library (including downloaded podcasts), and BBC iPlayer radio/TV… with goodness knows what else to come, as Apple’s AppStore expands. All very modest kit that you’ll easily find on any High Street – but an outcome straight out of ‘Tomorrow’s World’.
I had a similar reaction when the BBC took us inside Bill Thompson’s ‘digital home’ last week: two Macs and an XBox 360 connected through a wireless network, beamed out via a low-end projector. All very well… but frankly, I think I get a better user experience from my Wii – connected to the internet via the home wireless setup, with BBC iPlayer delivering (almost) full-screen TV on demand on our (again, fairly modest) big flatscreen telly. No need for computer X to talk to computer Y here; all controlled without having to leave the sofa via Wiimote.
Charles reckons ‘almost 30%’ of homes have wireless networks; and the Wii is trouncing the competition again this Christmas. A lot of people are going to have all the kit they need to enjoy some digital living.