January 15, 2008
| by Jeff Winston
Bottom Line: After almost 30 years of showing promise, and even with a whole new generation of improved technology, 2008 finds the home automation business still searching for its mass market. The good news is that if you need it, you can buy it (though it isn’t cheap), the bad news is that you need to bet on the right technology, or risk premature obsolescence of your gear.
On a related topic, a lot a noise was made at the show about powerline broadband, claiming that the killer app was shuttling high-speed Internet (for video) around your house. Although speeds of 100-200 Mb/s were quoted for standards like HD-PLC, Homeplug A/V and others (yet another mishmash), people told me privately that 30 Mb/s is the best that could be sustained. This compares poorly with 802.11n, and reminds me that several years ago, consumers snubbed cheaper, even faster, wired technologies (remember HomePNA?) for what was initially really bad wireless 802.11b. Though powerline technology is advancing, I’m not sure it’s producing any winners yet for either the home automation or home networking spaces.
Jeff Winston has been writing about home electronics since 1998. An electrical engineer, Jeff has contributed to the development of products in the computer, consumer electronics, and wireless industries. He spends his spare time with his wife, kids, and many PCs, sometimes in that order.