Internet Story: 30 Nov 1998
WebPAD Forget PC's, this device and similar technologies, could revolutionize the way we interact with the Web. One of the brightest buzzes at Comdex/Fall '98, the Cyrix WebPAD allows affordable, wireless access to the Net. Just like your portable phone, a WebPAD (or WebPADs!) "talks" to a receiving station that is connected to the Net via a variety of methods (phone, ISDN, xDSL, etc.). And, just like your portable phone, you'll be able to roam around the house, in the garden, wherever is in range of the base station, and interact with the Web. In fact, you should be even able to use it as a phone!
Developed by the Cyrix Conceptual Products Group, the WebPAD weighs in at less than 3lbs (1.5Kg), has built-in speakers and microphone, 2 USB ports, and should be available in the next 6 months.
Home Networking Will 1999 be the start of home networking? Certainly in the USA the number homes (some estimates are as great as 20M in the US alone, though 15M is probably nearer) that now own more than one PC has reached a point where this is becoming a feasible and emerging market*. With more than one PC in the home it makes little sense to dedicate an individual telephone line to each one. A much better solution is to put in place a gateway device that connects all the PCs via a single line. Obviously the PCs and the gateway device (often called a router - it routes the electronic packets that travel around the internet between PCs and the Internet (& vice versa)) all need to be connected. There are several technologies that are emerging to do this. One of those is the use of radio waves, as mentioned above. Another is the use of existing telephone cabling to deliver a relatively high speed (10Mb) network inside the home. One company doing this is Epigram - winner of best new technology award at Comdex/Fall '98.
Watch out for a whole slew of consumer networked white goods emerging in the next year. Digital refrigerators (tell you what's in stock and when to order items, as well as warn of error conditions - SNMP for Fridges - WOW! :-))... you think that's wild, wait until you see the networked toilets - I jest not!
Stringer Communications International, Ltd. also supply home networking solutions, currently via CAT-5 cabling, delivering up to 100Mb bandwidth around the home. Advantages: high speed, independent wiring. Disadvantages: extra wiring around some houses can be expensive.
See the HomePNA (Home Phoneline Network Alliance).
* Forrester Research believes there will be more than $1 billion spent on home networks by 2002 in the US alone.
DVD Well, OK, not really new. There's plenty around this Xmas - (there were plenty around last Xmas in the US, so we're only a year behind). 5X Speed players (32 speed CDROM) are commonplace now and DVD writers are now on sale here. With a suitably fast PC and MPEG-2 decoder card (usually piggybacks onto your existing video card) you can see any of a rapidly expanding range of DVD-ROMs, most major motion pictures are (or soon will be) available on this medium (just looks like a regular CD). One advantage of DVD movies is that they usually come with the soundtrack in several languages and with multi-lingual sub-titles (optionally turned on). Ever watched 101 Dalmatians in French with Dutch sub-titles? :-)
MP3 Speaking of multi-media, it finally looks like the music industry has seen sense and grasped the MP3 opportunity. IBM, has reached an agreement with Sony, Warner Music, EMI, Universal and others on a digital music distribution system - The Madison Project, as reported in the Financial Times on 26-Nov-1998. Several MP3 playing devices have appeared on the market over the past few months (see the Diamond Rio PMP 300, for example), along with a healthy pirate industry for recorded works. This agreement should pave the way for portable (and I guess some not so portable) devices that download CD legitimate, quality music from the Net as and when required - no need for physical media any more. Forrester Reasearch is pedicting that te online music business will be worth about $4 billion by 2002.
Internet Shopping "This Internet thing is all Mickey-Mouse, like CB radio, it will all blow over soon." A quote from a luddite from Amish County? No, it was said to me by a man who was a controller of IT at a major high street retailer in the UK (he's an IT director elsewhere now!) only 2 years ago. How wrong can one be! By recent estimates those tracking the retail industry expect online retailing in the US to double this year to around $2.3 billion. Some predict online sales could soar to more than $5 billion. Forrester Research estimates worldwide Internet commerce will reach as high as $3.2 trillion in 2003! With the online Xmas shopping season officially underway, you might want to check out some of our selection below...
This is a meagre selection compared with what is offered in the USA, but, I suppose we have to start somewhere.
DISCLAIMER: No site above is in any way recommended by anyone at Pendle.Net or any associated company - we bare no responsibility for anything to do with any of these companies.
Well I guess that's enough for this week, check back again for further updates next week.
Andrew Stringer, © Pendle.Net Ltd, 1998