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Networks Out at Home

Most home electronics vendors and service providers don't see the importance of local networking. Here's a prime example: For about $99, a home user can buy a standalone TiVo digital video recorder based on a fully functional Linux distribution--including USB ports for built-in home networking. For about the same price, DirecTV throws in a direct broadcast satellite (DBS) receiver--but disables the TiVo networking features. And DirecTV says it has no plans to re-enable the networking features in the future.

If networks are to work as well at home as they do at the office, electronics vendors--including those that provide home entertainment systems, phone systems, home security, lighting controls, HVAC controls and kitchen appliances--must get with it. You can help speed things along by pestering them endlessly. We plan to let DirecTV know how crazy it is, and you should do the same for any vendor that misses the networking mark.