Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Staying Aloft

This past weekend I had the opportunity to stay at one of the new W Hotels near Philadelphia. The Aloft Hotel opened earlier this year near Philadelphia Airport.

The aloft is certainly a different boutique style hotel. The rooms are really well designed and the staff are friendly. I would certainly stay there again.

Modern design is a strong point of the Aloft brand. The rooms are beautifully laid out with very clean lines. The large flat screen TV has a connectivity "gizmo" on one of the desks in the room. It is this gizmo that perplexed me. The idea is that you can connect up your laptop, or other electronic devices and use the TV as display and audio. A very nice idea. It would mean you could use the complimentary WiFi in the room and stream shows from Hulu out to the TV.

With all the thoughtful touches through out the hotel there has obviously been a tremendous attention to detail but it seems like the designers have never really thought about the electronics gizmo. It is a great idea but the execution seems a little lacking - except in one area. This box has four, yes - FOUR, power outlets. That is great for charging electronics. However the rest of the connectivity was strangely almost useless.

TheAloft Electronics Gizmo

It is as if the designers have never actually used the gizmo. Now I travel quite a bit. I also do a fair few presentations from my laptop. As a result I typically carry a selection of cables and connectors to hook up my MacBook Pro. I went through my bag and found I didn't have a single cable that would work with the gizmo.

This box would be infinitely more useful if they had provided a bunch of cables to go with it. For example:

I had an audio jack to BNC connector. I didn't have a cable with male plugs to allow me to connect to the gizmo.

I had a video out connector. I didn't have the necessary cable with a male plug.

I had a DVI to VGA connector but I needed a male VGA to male VGA cable to connect to the gizmo. If I had been traveling with a Video Projector I could probably have stolen the VGA cable from that, but alas, no.

I had a 3.5mm audio splitter cable but I didn't have a 3.5mm male to male cable in order to connect tot he audio in. So I couldn't even connect my iPod.

Given the target audience of this hotel I was really surprised that this gizmo didn't provide an iPod docking and charging connector. That would have been an instant hit with a large number of travelers.

Would I stay at an aloft again? Absolutely! Don't get me wrong this is a fun hotel. Only next time I would make sure I packed a few extra cables. I am publishing this so that others who may choose to stay there can go prepared.

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