By BUILDER Magazine Staff. The VIP ( may qualify as a real appliance--something that actually makes life easier. The wall-mounted Web pad has an intuitive, touch-screen interface that includes an on-screen keyboard and lets users go online or easily control the home's various systems. What makes it so easy to use is a new type of middleware called SYS, from Redmond, Wash.-based Premise Systems, that's based on Microsoft's Universal Plug and Play standard. (Look for a full review of SYS in the June issue of BUILDER.)

The VIP can communicate via Category-5 wiring or the home's power lines. An entry level package includes a Home Director structured wiring box, a gateway, and several X-10 Pro devices: four cameras, five control modules for lights or appliances, and three temperature control units. Estimated price: $17,500. (The target market is homes costing $350,000 and up.) It's available at CompUSA.