Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Thinking small

It's about to be bonus time where I work, and if the bonus is sweet enough, I'm hoping to replace our tube TV with an HDTV LCD flat panel. We just got a Comcast/Motorola 2-tuner DVR cable box, which has HDTV outputs, and I'm looking forward to watching at least some HDTV content. Plus, we'll be able to watch our widescreen DVDs at a more normal picture size.

I am not an early-adopter of technology; I'd much rather wait for the third or fourth version, the one that works and is cheap, before buying. Last year I installed a wireless network, got high-speed internet access, and replaced a desktop PC with a laptop. I also got a pair of Apple Airport Express units to let me stream music from ITunes to the living room stereo and the Bose radio in the kitchen, plus a third unit to use as a wireless print server. Plus an IPod. This year, HDTV and a DVR.

I particularly like how much space we can save with this new technology. Moving the desktop computer and its associated junk out of the study turned that room into a nice sitting room. Getting all of the CDs onto the Powerbook cleared out that shelf in the living room, plus we could give our old CD player to my mother-in-law when her CD player crapped out. Getting the DVR means we can toss that musty, dusty, basket of old video tapes. The new TV will have a bigger screen but take up much less space than the current one.

We live in a small, 100 year old farm house. The house was built before widespread household electrification, microwaves, refrigerators (but not iceboxes), convection ovens, computers, televisions, DVD players, and VCRs. As these devices get smaller, the house starts to feel more comfortable.

So that's what I like today: small devices for storing, transmitting, and rendering digital data.

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