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Sun makes more appliance deals

Blood pressure monitors and smoke alarms. So you say it works first time, right?

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Sun Microsystems says it will step into the consumer appliance business over the next couple of years as the bits and pieces of its various Internet initiatives fall into place.

But the SunRay terminal, which got a revamp this week with a couple of new iMac-like all-in-one designs, won't be one of them.

The SunRay was revamped the same day as the company announced a partnership with Sunbeam subsidiary Thalia to produce a home networking spec. (Yes, another one.) Thalia will produce networked versions of a coffee maker, electric blanket and kitchen console early next year.

Oh, and a smoke alarm too, which presumably comes into play when the "integration" between the electric blanket and coffee maker fails. And why stop there? Once these are all tied into B2B back ends, you'll have the makings of the first fully-automated insurance scam. But we digress...

Sun says the Thalia and SunRay announcements aren't related; because of bandwidth considerations, the SunRay won't be suitable for the home, despite its new Fisher-Price styling (and hey, that's a compliment round here).

More definitely though, we're told that Sun is at work on a "home gateway" that combines telephony, video and broadband internet.

Sun still wants to OEM the SunRay, and has a couple of revisions planned for later in the year. In September it'll get Palm support, local printer support, and a way of getting to network-attached storage. The end of the year Sun promises USB (version 1.1, not 2.0) and support for multi-head monitors. The new SunRays come in two new models, the 100 and 150. The former is an all in one CRT priced at $549, and the latter an all-in-one LCD, priced at $1299.

At the height of the Valley heatwave last week, we came across boxes of these in corporate Sun colours being unloaded at the company's Palo Alto office: so they've got one customer at least. And not a smoke alarm in sight... ®

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