What’s for dinner, HAL?: The

What’s for dinner, HAL?
: The long-blathered-about Internet-connected refrigerator is here. LG is touting it not just on its web site but also spending money marketing it in magazines.

Now on the one hand, this may seem like an almost-forgotten hangover from a too-long brainstorming session in those go-go Internet years. But the simple summary of what you can do with this thing actually looks sensible:

Watch TV. Play MP3s (through four speakers). Leave messages for your family. Read email. Check your calendar. Look at screensaver family snapshots. And, of course, get recipes.

: The one thing the spec doesn’t list — which, surely, it must — is wireless networking. For that’s what makes all this feasible. I’m now sitting on my couch with laptop literally on lap thanks to wireless. Wireless means the refrigerator wouldn’t have to be cabled. High-speed wireless (802.11a) means the refrigerator can even play video.

Wireless networking is getting cheaper and cheaper and is spreading like West Nile.

Now Toshiba has announced wireless chips for TVs, stereos, and DVDs. LG, by the way, also has an Internet-connected microwave, washingt machine, and air conditioner for very remote remote control.

From a geek perspective, this is as fundamental a change as HTML: Just as HTML separated content from display, allowing any browser anywhere to display content, wireless networking separates content from devices, allowing any device anywhere in a network to play anything.So your refrigerator can play a song from the Internet or a show from your TiVo or a movie from your DVD or a voicemail from your email or a page from your PC (at home or at work).

It’s really happening — slowly, gradually, but that’s the way these things are supposed to happen, at the speed of the market, not at the now-laughable “speed of the Internet.” Even if slower and quieter, this is a revolution nonetheless.

: And this, once again, is what makes AT&T Cable so incredibly stupid for trying to limit cable-modem customers to one IP — that is, one device. They would stop you from using that refrigerator ar that Internet-ready TV. Old, dead companies just don’t get it.