Smart Displays, Dumb Idea

While I have to admit that the idea of carrying a portable extension of your personal computer around sounds great, is it really necessary? Wireless home network standards are moving at an astounding rate. In a little less than two years we have seen three wireless protocols hit the store shelves. 802.11b, 802.11a and 802.11g products are all currently available at electronics and computer stores offering wireless networking capabilites.  What exactly is an Air panel? Think of it as a removable LCD monitor with built in processing power of its own. You can carry it and access your desktops applications through this wireless device.

This year?s crop of Air panels all operate at the 802.11b protocol standard which means that you get just enough bandwidth to surf the web, check e-mail and work on your office applications. But what about streaming video or audio? Unfortunately, you will most likely be out of luck. Because of the limitations of the 802.11b standard there simply is just not enough bandwidth at most ranges to stream audio and video. So is a $1299 Air panel really worth its weight?

Think about this. Did you know that while you are using an Air panel, your desktop computer is rendered useless? That?s right; you cannot use your desktop computer seperately while using an Air panel. Another catch to this year?s crop of Air panels is that you will most likely need to have Microsoft?s Windows XP Professional edition installed on your desktop computer. Why? Because the Remote Desktop Technology found in the Professional version of Windows XP is vital for the Air Panels use. So be ready to pay for both the Air panel and the operating system upgrade; an expensive process for being able to surf the web.

A better alternative?

Buy a cheap laptop and throw in a wireless networking card. Laptop prices are falling at record rates and account for roughly 50% of all computer purchases. Chances are you will get a larger screen than any Smart Display can offer but you also get upgradeability. Not only can you surf the net, check e-mail, stream audio and video using the 802.11g standard, but you now have a completely portable computer. If your home network gets too slow, simply throw in a newer card. 802.11G products are comparable in price to their 802.11B brethren and offer 5 times the bandwidth. Not to mention that 802.11g products are backwards compatible with 802.11b products.

So while the Air Panel theory may sound like something out of a science fiction movie, it is strictly hype and offers no real world benefits. Even Microsoft has stated that Smart Displays are targeted squarely at early adopters. My recommendation would be to wait a while until Smart Display technology advances and until the 802.11G protocol picks up more popularity.

Smart displays are nothing but a blip on the road map, a short trend with a very short lifespan. The economy is in a recession, save your money and spend it on the endless sea of discounted electronics.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Home Theater

Want to mirror your smartphone or tablet onto your TV? Here's how

A vast arsenal of devices exists to allow sending anything on your mobile device to your TV. Our in-depth guide shows you how to mirror content from your smartphone or tablet to the big screen from virtually any device available.
Cars

Muscle cars, trucks, and EVs roared into the subdued 2019 Detroit Auto Show

The 2019 Detroit Auto Show was the quietest edition of the event in recent memory, but that doesn't mean nothing significant happened inside the Cobo Center. Here are the new cars and concepts we saw at the show.
Home Theater

Here’s why you’re not getting Netflix in HD or 4K, and how to fix it

Are you having trouble watching your favorite movies or TV shows on Netflix in HD or 4K? We explain why loading takes so long, why the picture quality fluctuates, and what you can do about it.
Digital Trends Live

Microsoft has #*!@ed up to-do lists on an epic scale

Microsoft has mucked up to-do lists on a scale you simply can’t imagine, a failure that spans multiple products and teams, like a lil’ bit of salmonella that contaminates the entire output from a factory.
Opinion

As Amazon turns up the volume on streaming, Spotify should shudder

Multiple players are all looking to capitalize on the popularity of streaming, but it has thus far proved nearly impossible to make a profit. Could major tech companies like Amazon be primed for a streaming take-over?
Gaming

Throw out the sandbox. ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ is a fully realized western world

Despite featuring around 100 story missions, the real destination in Red Dead Redemption 2 is the journey you make for yourself in the Rockstar's open world, and the game is better for it.
Gaming

‘Diablo Immortal’ is just the beginning. Mobile games are the future

Diablo fans were furious about Diablo Immortal, but in truth, mobile games are the future. From Apple and Samsung to Bethesda and Blizzard, we’re seeing a new incentive for games that fit on your phone.
Movies & TV

He created comics, movies, and superheroes. But Stan Lee lived for joy

Stan Lee was a creator, a celebrity, an icon, and beneath it all, a real-life good guy with all the same human qualities that made his superheroes so relatable. And his greatest joy was sharing his creations with the world.
Music

Brian Eno sets out to change music (again) with Bloom: 10 World

We always felt that Bloom was a musical system that could be developed further -- it was as if we’d built a CD player and only ever released one CD. For this release, we’ve created ten new worlds, starting with a reimagined version of…
Computing

Can two operating systems coexist? The Pixel Slate thinks so

The Pixel Slate is a 2-in-1 device like no other. It’s not the most polished product we’ve ever used, but Google has laid the foundation for letting mobile and desktop software live side-by-side in peace.
Android

Why commercials in Android Auto could turn your dashboard into a dumpster fire

Google announced some tweaks to the Android Auto experience, focused on making messaging and media easier, but I worry about the future of the platform. For better or worse, there’s a real chance our dashboards could turn into dumpster…
Gaming

These are the best video games you shouldn't leave 2018 without

Developers showed up with a number of amazing games this year. Each capitalized on something unique but there's always one that outdoes them all. Here are our picks for the best video games of 2018 and game of the year.
Home Theater

Will Marvel’s shows lose their punch if they move from Netflix to Disney Plus?

Disney could pick up the Marvel shows being canceled by Netflix, but the idea raises all sorts of questions. Is continuing Daredevil, Punisher, or Jessica Jones on Disney's own streaming service a good move?