The Road Wirer
of Bells and Whistles, but Not Many Desks...
by Mark Sedenquist
The Road Wirer traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, the first week of December to attend the RV Trade show sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). The principal purpose of this annual show is to roll-out the new products and RV vehicles for the new year and I thought it would provide an excellent glimpse of products that Dashboarders can expect in the coming months. Unfortunately, very few RV manufacturers have chosen to create products or equipment for this growing segment of mobile professionals and/or their families.
A consistent element in the e-mail that I receive deals with questions about purchasing mobile vehicles with built-in offices. To my knowledge there are only two motorhomes commercially produced with office space areas. Both of these are manufactured by Fleetwood and can be ordered in the Flair and Southwind Storm models, both of which retail in the $70,000 range. In both models, the desk is located at the rear of the coach and hidden by a queen-sized Murphy bed. The design is clever, but it is unlikely that it would hold up to the rigors of performing as a full-fledged office on wheels. Based upon our experience in the Phoenix One, I would suggest that a mobile office desk/component be constructed as sturdily as possible. (For a QuickTime virtual tour of the Phoenix One's office, click here.)
The news in fifth wheel trailers is slightly better, since many of these RV units have incorporated slide-outs into the design that can be outfitted as excellent desk areas. Two that caught my attention were the Alfa Gold produced by Alfa in Chino, California. The Alfa Gold has a work station/entertainment area with a six-foot wooden desk and retails in the mid- $60,000s. A couple of models by Teton Homes include desk areas in fourteen foot slide-outs. These Teton models range in price from $73,000 to $109,000.
In the "Yet-to-Come" Department, I am intrigued by the mobile trials of the new High Data Rate (HDR) technology that Qualcomm is currently conducting. While HDR, if successful, would only be purchased by Wireless Services Providers, and would not be available for resale to mere mortals (like the Road Wirer) until 2002, it looks like it will be possible to send data at 153Kbps and receive at nearly 2.4Mbps.
Innovative vehicle design that incorporates elements that can be used by Dashboarders appears to be in the same limbo land as many of the wireless communication products that we are expecting to appear any day now. Until that day dawns, we keep on looking. I look forward to hearing from you.
Las Vegas, Nevada
December 13, 1999