Friday, January 19, 2007

A Solution Looking For A Problem

Here's a "what's the point?" moment, brought to you by the good folks at Gizmag, your one-stop online magazine for all things gadget and tech. Picture this: You load your family into the car, drive to a remote location, open the roof, swivel your seats around to face the back of the vehicle, and watch a video on the flipped-up moonroof-turned-40-inch-movie-screen. This is actually possible, and at least one of these cars already exists. What we're talking about here is a Suzuki concept car, designed to give you the ultimate in mobile viewing entertainment:

January 19, 2007 One of the concept vehicles at NAIAS which somehow seemed to slip below the radar was the silver-screen-inspired XL7 Flix concept. The Flix concept offers film enthusiasts the ultimate mobile movie experience, being outfitted with an in-vehicle movie system. After parking at the optimal film-viewing destination, Flix’s clamshell roof can be opened, revealing a maximum-size moonroof that serves as a 40-inch movie screen. Additionally, the XL7 concept’s front roof panel vents, giving way to a high-density digital projection system to display a family’s movie of choice. For those who prefer the traditional drive-in movie experience, Flix’s projection system can be positioned to display movies nearly anywhere – the side of a building, a billboard or almost any wall.

The interior look of the Flix resembles a contemporary private screening room, dressed in plush materials to evoke elegance and sophistication. The XL7 concept features four individual bucket seats that pivot 180 degrees to view the elevated giant screen. The Flix also is equipped with a next-generation, high-definition DVD player with integrated hard drive for maximum AV storage, a professional THX/SDS-theater quality sound system, pivoting quarter window speakers and red door/floor strip lighting to further enhance the in-vehicle movie experience.

That's the bulk of the article, although, if you want to see pictures, head on over to the Gizmag site for the visual confirmation. It'll make a whole lot more sense what they mean by "a clamshell roof," and the layout really is worth a gander.

What the article doesn't say, and I think is extremely relevant, is how much this little theater-on-wheels is "projected" to cost. One can only assume "a heck of a lot," and that begs the question, "Why on Earth would anybody do that?!!" For what the extras on that car are bound to cost, wouldn't it make more sense just to buy a fancy theater system for your home, complete with a high-def big-screen, surround sound, comfy chairs and a refrigerator nearby? This also has the added advantage of ample size--the average living room will hold more than four people. I understand that people have to have transportation, and people like movies, but I don't really get the concept of loading all that gear into an SUV, just so you can drive someplace else to watch a movie. Not that watching a movie out in some country field might not have a bit of a novelty kick, but after the "new gadget smell" wears off, does the cost-to-benefit ratio really work out in favor of the 40-inch-screen-in-the-car concept? The article says this concept car "slipped below the radar." I wonder if that's because most people took a look and thought, "Huh. Maybe I just ought to buy a nicer TV."