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THE MORNING BUZZ: Balancing Home Entertainment Devices Is All About Trading Spaces

23 Jul, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner

I was talking to one of the hardware guys the other day at DVD At 5. We got to talking about personal video recorders (PVRs) and other high-density storage media, things like MP3 that hold a lot of content in a small space and make it so portable.

We agreed that Hollywood is foolish to fight or seek to control these technologies, partly because Hollywood doesn't understand the practical realities that drive a lot of consumers' consuming.

Here's a driver I think Hollywood is missing altogether: it's called "Trading Spaces." Or the British version, called "Changing Rooms." If you haven't heard of it, quick, ask nearest woman over 20 years old.

She'll tell you she's hooked on a show about two sets of partners trading their homes over a weekend and redoing a room in each other's houses for under $1,000 with the help of a professional designer and carpenter. It's inspired more than one of us to do room makeovers.

Leow's and Home Depot must be ga-ga over these shows, which drive a lot of formerly less than handy women through their doors. I've always been handy but just last weekend the guy at OSH looked at me like I was daft for telling him I needed 26, 1/2-inch, funnel-headed pointy screws. They never understand quite what I want but they do their best to help me. I did get my screws and the project looks great.

The thing I bet Hollywood is missing is that on virtually every episode, the designers redo or build some type of armoire or cabinetry to hide the TV and other home electronics. They're accepted lifestyle components but universally viewed as a disruption to the aesthetic elements of room decor.

As a result of this reinforcement, women are becoming much more assertive about how the family home entertainment center looks and, as they speak up more, I think the demand for invisible media will grow. The more you can store and hide in less space, the better. We don't want to deprive our partners of their media smorgasbords, we just don't want to see all of it all the time.

Imagine DVD content on storage media the size of digital camera memory sticks. Your whole DVD collection down to one drawer. It would become a special feature to have a large print edition package.

Imagine SonicBlue's 3,000 hours of programming in one hard drive. Pick and choose and store or delete what you wish at the touch of a button. Hide one box.

The more women have to say about it, I believe the more single-box solutions will get popular. Hollywood can fight all it wants, but the more difficult and multidevice it is to consume entertainment, the less demand there will be for those home formats.

If, as Thomas K. Arnold sometimes asserts, "he who dies with the most toys wins," then she who lives with the least clutter also wins. And we all know that means everybody wins.

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