SEPTEMBER 11, 2000 VOL. 156 NO. 10
accoutrements are diverse, ranging from interactive television sets to
hotel-provided laptops to plug-in broadband networks. Interactive TVs,
offered by companies like Maginet Corp. and On Command, allow users to
accessthrough a cordless keyboardthe Internet, order a movie,
play video games and check out, all while tucked into bed. But until you
get the hang of it, surfing the Web on a TV screen can be cumbersome.
During a recent test, I found On Command's system frustrating; you can
view only a small magnified segment of the computer screen, which is handy
if you're nearsighted but irritating if you're not. And the systems aren't
great for multi-taskers, since no two functionssay, watching SportsCenter
and e-mailing the kidscan be performed simultaneously. Chances are
good you'll encounter On Command somewhere during your Asian travels;
hotels from more than 100 chains use its services, including Wyndham International,
Marriott International and Westin.
If carrying your own laptop around the world is too tiring, you'll love the Worldroom work stations, the service I-Quest now provides at certain hotels. Users receive a multi-media desk area with a laser printer, Microsoft Office and a host of other toys. I-Quest provides a high degree of security through measures like immediately transferring your personal data to your own Internet service provider without storing it, though don't expect the kind of protection you get behind your corporate firewall. If your company uses a virtual private network system, the security level increases.
Does this mean you can leave the laptop at home the next time you travel? Not until more hotels provide services like I-Quest. Even then, many people may feel naked without their own hardware. "For businesspeople, laptops are an extension of their bodies," says Sara Albright, international p.r. manager at Tokyo's Park Hyatt Hotel. Though some hotels still limit their communication support to a telephone and some embossed stationery, working in your room is getting easier all the time.
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