Electronic Entertainment Without (much) Power?

,While I typically write about something new in the consumer electronics world and displays in particular, this week I want to pick up the question of not using any display device or consumer electronic gadget at all.

Well, the topic was forced a little bit on me, as I have been experiencing a power outage for five days – and still counting. So the 50″ TV is a black slate that would make for a great location to post some pictures and the computers (Apple and Microsoft) are collecting dust at an alarming rate independent of their heritage. The only functioning electronic devices with displays are the smartphones and tablets.

The reason is very simple, they have batteries. Well, I do have a generator but that is solely used to keep the water out of the basement and, of course, charging the smartphones and tablets.

On a more specific note, a power outage makes you aware of how much of our normal life is dependent on electric power. Okay, so the TV won’t work unless you buy a larger generator (my vote goes to powering the heater and running the refrigerator first, though). But even powering up the TV or the computers means there is still nothing to see. There is still the setbox that provides the content and the WiFi network that brings the content to your display of choice, both of which do run on electricity. Without all these nice gadgets, no RGB pixels will be illuminating the room. Then you realize that almost everything today is using some kind of electronic circuit that will not work unless it is battery driven. Relying on the set top box to display the correct time? Take a wild guess. This raises the question of whether all those smart devices are so smart after all (well, at least for the last five days, that is – there is a promise of a fix by day six at the time of posting).

So how do I survive this breakdown of modern conveniences?

Surprisingly well, actually. For full disclosure, I have still been going into the office and using a computer there, all day long.

But at home, no news, no soap operas, no documentaries or whatever one’s heart may desire. At least, not on the big screen. As I said before, smartphones and tablets still work and since the power outage is not affecting the cell towers there is also content available to watch. After some days with this I am not sure if the smartphone / tablet would be a real alternative for consuming any type of content for a longer period of time, like watching a movie for example.

There just doesn’t seem to be comfortable position for me to watch on such a small screen and completely forget about the audio performance. There maybe an initial newness factor for binge watching on the tablet, but for me it wore out pretty fast. Kids seem to be more comfortable with using the small display form factor, though. Maybe this has something to do with their better eyesight?

Assuming the power outage will last forever and moving is out of the question, what would I consider a good solution to get my RGB pixel stimulation at night time? I have to say a VR headset may be a really good alternative to putting me into a living room with electricity. I know, VR headsets today need lots of power and computers to provide an even decent visual experience (actually, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 platform doesn’t look too bad – Man. Ed.). But once the technology allows for six hours of run time without using a computer, this may just fit the bill. With some good photos I may be even seeing my basement without any water or turned into a heated swimming pool for better measure.

Walle proc

If you ever seen Wall-E, the Disney movie, you may remember what I am talking about. The future may be knocking on our doors without us even recognizing it. Together with the recent focus on robotic technology mimicking people, Wall-E’s society may just be around the corner.

On a more reaslistic note, is VR really the future of TV as some are making it out to be? Up to now, I would have thought that there is no way that headets could replace a good TV screen because of the peripheral vision of the real world. But what if the VR headset would exactly do that instead of creating a 360º world? You watch TV on your virtual TV set and if you want to upgrade your TV to the latest model, it just takes some software instead of a trip to the nearest electronics store. Your living room will be always clean and look exactly like the latest magazines suggest. Just a comfortable chair and Wall-E has arrived. – NH