Discover how a real family gets reunited around technology!

Digital Family – real people just like you

Philip and Stephanie Shepherd and their four kids, Imogen, Olivia, Felix and George, all love the latest gadgets. Technology is woven into the very fabric of their lives. But the way in which it is used and its role in day to day life has changed dramatically in recent years. They stream digital media, from photos to music, via their PC to enjoy together in their living room. The kids now watch digital television on their laptops in their tree house in the garden as opposed to being cooped up in their bedrooms. They communicate and keep in touch with foreign cousins via podcasts instead of postcards, and produce high definition home videos viewable on their PSPs, iPods and mobile phones, rather than old-fashioned videotapes or cine film of yesteryear.

Compared to ten years ago, the technology they surround themselves with now works for them. It’s present in almost everything they do, be it recreational or professional, at work or on holiday. Their imposing Georgian home in rural Hampshire reflects a traditional architecture mixed with a modern high-tech home.

In this busy household, the technology used by the Shepherds serves two main purposes - it unites the family whilst giving them the freedom and space to do what they want, without holding each other up. Sometimes Philip works from home using his mobile Blackberry and PC, whilst Stephanie catches up on her soap operas digitally recorded from the previous week. At the same time, the kids watch their favourite movies on their laptops in their bedrooms. All without any fights over the television or causing each other any unnecessary distractions.

The family gets together and reminisce while they convert their dusty old videotapes to shiny new DVDs. Left to Right: George, Olivia, Felix, Philip, Imogen, Stephanie

The beauty of the Shepherd’s ‘digital home’ is how seamlessly each device interfaces with the other, enabling the whole family to interact and communicate with each other virtually, remotely and locally. With each family member owning a vast assortment of electrical gadgets, from laptops, iPods and PSPs to digital cameras and mobile phones, it is essential that they connect efficiently and easily.

But that’s not to suggest the Shepherds have invested millions in making their gadget driven lifestyle possible, far from it. An average of around 1500€ per year is spent by this family of six on technology says Philip. With just a few key products making the most out of devices already common place throughout the house, such as laptops, mp3 players and video games consoles.

Olivia and George love hanging out in the Treehouse watching The Simpsons with their TV Tuner

The living room sports a high tech stylish Showcenter™ 250HD from Pinnacle, which not only looks good, but is used to wirelessly stream videos, music and pictures from the family’s laptops or home PC straight to the television, enabling the whole family to view and enjoy in comfort, without the need to crowd round a small computer monitor in the study. Using the Pinnacle PCTV™ DVB-T Flash Stick, the children are able to receive and record digital TV straight to their laptops wherever they are, be it their bedrooms or the family tree house. This compact USB TV tuner has an impressive 1GB of storage meaning that the kids can store and watch their own programmes, whether it’s Hollyoaks or Blue Peter, at home or away. Holidays have also been vastly improved thanks to Pinnacle’s Video Transfer, enabling the kids to transfer many of their favourite TV shows and downloaded videos, without the need for a PC, onto their own portable devices to take with them, ready to watch on their iPods and PSPs - perfect for long journeys or keeping them entertained whenever away from home.

Grown ups not allowed! George and Olivia can still feel connected while tucked away at the end of the garden.

Of course in keeping with family tradition, Philip captures as much of the action as possible on video with his HD camcorder, creating DVD master-pieces with simple-to-use video-editing software – Studio from Pinnacle. Over the years, with numerous birthday parties, holidays, festive and family events, Philip and Stephanie have also amassed a huge library of camcorder tapes and home videos. These are difficult to share with relatives and cumbersome to store. However, using the Dazzle DVD Recorder, the family has transferred footage onto the home computer, from where they are able to share video clips with their Dutch relatives via the internet or easily create DVDs. Converting these home movies to DVD has many valuable benefits. Not only are they easier to watch, extremely entertaining, can be shared with friends and relatives, and safe from deterioration, but have made great personal presents for family members at Christmas. The Shepherds have found re-editing older home movies together to be a tremendous bonding experience, as well as easy to do.

The kids have a blast recording their experiences to share with their cousins overseas. Left to Right: Felix, Stephanie, George, Olivia and Imogen.

Ten years ago the thought of the family working so closely and so frequently with so much technology would have been a daunting prospect. But the ease in which it can all be used, by everyone, including George, (the youngest of the children at just seven years old) - who regularly transfers TV and video to his iPod to help with school homework – is incredible.

In this hi-tech Hampshire home, technology works for its inhabitants, not the other way around… and Philip, Stephanie and the kids wouldn’t have it any other way.

Philip digitizes VHS tapes he made of the kids when they were babies onto his computer and edits them into great presents for his parents.