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Revealed 3Com's first Net appliance – Audrey

Etch-a-sketch shaped women-friendly device revealed on 3Com site

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3Com is busily preparing the way for the launch of the first product in its upcoming Ergo family of Internet appliances with a Web site of its very own, as a reader over at PalmStation has discovered.

The site, currently sitting on 3Com's public server, announces Audrey, 3Com's Palm-connectable appliance, aimed at women. According to the site, Audrey will ship in a range of pastel colours - shades of Apple's iMac here - and sport a 6.25in x 4.75in (the resolution is 640 x 480, judging by the site's HTML) touch-sensitive screen; built-in 56kbps modem, speakers and microphone; serial and USB ports; and a wireless keyboard. Audrey is based on National Semiconductor's Geode CPU.

Audrey will ship with its own Web browser and personal information management features. 3Com is basing some Ergo products on the Palm OS, others on QNX's Neutrino realtime OS - we suspect the latter is being used for Audrey, though the site gives no clues. Buttons on the machine's front panel take users straight to each application. The browser button doubles up as a radio tuner-style knob that cycles through the device's 'channels' - 'bookmarked sites' to the rest of us.

Audrey does, however, have Palm's HotSync technology built in, so handheld-equipped families can back up their data and ensure they all know what each of them is up to.

All very Jetsons, you might think, and indeed Audrey has a certain 'kitchen appliance of the future' look about it. It also looks like an Etch-a-Sketch, and sports a metal carry handle-cum-wall mount attachment on the back.

3Com is backing Audrey up with a family-oriented Web portal with an online magazine and bulletin board.

3Com announced the Ergo family earlier this year, but gave few details about the products that would make up the line. Audrey - then unnamed - was described simply as an appliance for the kitchen. ®

Related Link

3Com's Audrey site

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