When I'm traveling I'm pretty much a Starwood loyalist. But this week I stayed at a Marriott in Newport, RI for a night and was pleasantly surprised with Marriott's "Ultra-Adaptable Room" which is not only well suited to the connected business traveler, but also highly appealing for guests who want to watch their own video, not just what's available from the expensive in-room entertainment options (to show how long it's been since I've stayed at a Marriott, apparently the Ultra-Adaptable Room concept was introduced in '07, so maybe this is old news for some of you).
I've scanned in a picture from the brochure of the connected console that hangs on the wall adjacent to both the desk and the TV (it's about 18 inches wide and 6 inches high). As the labels indicate, there are multiple inputs, which offer a range of choices for video viewing from your laptop (HDMI, VGA, S-Video and Component). With the set-up guests can watch video that's stored locally (DVDs, weekend home movies, etc.) or, if using the hotel's broadband connection or their wireless aircard, can stream content from online sources (e.g. Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, etc.).
This is the first time I've seen a console like this and it seems long overdue from the hospitality industry. I've always been somewhat mystified by the in-room entertainment systems at hotels; they have limited choices and are often ludicrously over-priced. Plus, if you start a movie late at night, doze off and check out the next morning, you're out of luck in terms of finishing it. The Marriott room solves this problem neatly because you're watching your own media on your schedule.
I also liked the fact that the console had 4 AC power adapters to easily keep the laptop charged, plus handy recharging of the cell phone and other devices. That alone is a big improvement from the typical process of fishing around under the desk looking for a spare outlet. The only thing Marriott could do to improve the set-up is supply all the cables needed to take advantage of the console. Regardless, it's a great step forward. Now I'd like to see these consoles in Westins and Sheratons.
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