Monday, 24 October 2011 11:39

The connected home isn't as connected as it could be


It seems Australians' home networks are underutilised. Many Internet-enabled devices are not being connected, and therefore do not deliver to their full potential.

A survey carried out by Galaxy Research for networking hardware vendor Netgear has found that Australians own a lot of Internet-enabled devices that they don't bother to put online.

The company has only released selected figures from the report, but it seems there are almost 70 million Internet-enabled devices in Australian homes, but nearly 19 million aren't connected. It's easier to understand why that happens with some categories of device than others.

For example, 30% of Internet-enabled TVs aren't online. Is that because this almost one-third of people are buying a feature they don't really want (ie, it's becoming a standard feature on all but the cheapest models), or is it simply too difficult or too costly to add the TV to the home network? The latter could well be the case. Few homes have extensive Ethernet cabling, Wi-Fi adaptor aren't exactly cheap (typically around $100), and HomePlug AV adaptors are usually even more expensive if you're not already using them and therefore need to buy a pair to connect the TV.

But the return is relatively significant. Not only can you usually stream content stored on other devices (eg, a PC) as well as gaining access to a variety of Internet services including catch-up TV sites such as iView.

It should come as little surprise that less than 4% of Blu-ray players are online, as consumers haven't exactly taken BD-Live (the interactive, online part of the Blu-ray standard) to their hearts, although some newer Blu-ray players also provide most, if not all, of the online feature of an Internet -enabled TV.

What about game consoles? See page 2.



Game consoles are also underutilised in terms of their Internet capabilities - less than half of the consoles in Australian homes are connected to the Internet. One possibility is that parents aren't comfortable with their younger kids playing online.

Another is that the message about using consoles to access online content hasn't got through. Or maybe it's the connectivity issue again: the Wi-FI adaptor for the Xbox 360 is relatively pricey, for example.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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