WITH BROADBAND INTERNET ACCESS IN the kitchen, families find more ways to connect not just with the cyber world but also with each other, reports the Internet Home Alliance. This conclusion came out of an eight-month test of Internet-enabled product solutions—known as Mealtime Pilot—for kitchen and meal preparation.

“What we intended to do was give mom and dad a way to get dinner on the table,” says Alliance's vice president of ecosystem development, Tim Woods. “But in the end the families loved … participating because it brought them together.”

Twenty families tested various products, including ovens that could be programmed to refrigerate, cook, and hold a dish warm for a set time; WAP (wireless application protocol) phones to change those directions; and tablets for surfing the Internet for recipes, creating shopping lists, and e-mailing them to an online grocer for delivery.

Although the products met with varying degrees of success, the study's prevailing point was that a kitchen with Web access provided a reason for busy families to spend more quality time together.

While a few builders are catching on—Woods says that KB Home is “doing a fantastic job” offering Web options— others are reticent to push Internet packages on buyers. Woods says that those builders could be missing out. Like crown molding or carpeting, broadband in the kitchen can enhance home buyers' quality of life, he says.

“The bottom line for builders is put a broadband connection in the kitchen no matter what,” Woods says.