A New Internet Appliance

By Bruce Brown  |  Posted 2003-07-07 Print this article Print

The Greenbell BluePAD might just be an exception in Internet appliances, offering Internet connectivity, wireless networking, and a TV tuner in one.

Internet appliances have yet to find great success, largely since the compromises inherent in the earlier devices were too great. The Greenbell BluePAD ($1,350 list), however, is a versatile multipurpose Internet appliance that combines Internet connectivity, wireless networking for mobility, and a TV tuner in one attractive—albeit expensive—device. Capable of running in mobile mode via batteries or docked in its standard docking station, the BluePAD is functional but not impressive for the same reasons that earlier Internet appliances and convergent devices failed to excite buyers: Its too expensive for what it does.

The BluePAD system weighs 3.1 pounds and measures 8.4 by 11.5 by 1.0 inches (HWD). It looks like a tablet PC and docks easily via a single connector to a base station that includes two LAN ports and one coaxial television port. It is powered by a 300-MHz National Semiconductor GX1 CPU and has 64MB of RAM, 64MB of NAND (nonvolatile RAM) Flash memory for longer-term storage, and a 10.4-inch diagonal, 256K-color, TFT LCD touch screen with a maximum resolution of 800-by-600. PCMCIA Type II and SD/MMC ports accommodate removable storage media. The BluePAD also has two USB 1.1 ports, a microphone and speaker, and integrated Bluetooth wireless communication. The docking cradle has a Bluetooth access point and a TV tuner. Versions of the BluePAD can run on embedded real-time Linux 2.4 and, like the test unit, Windows CE .NET 4.10. Although our version came with Bluetooth, BluePAD is also available with 802.11b wireless networking built in. The internal lithium ion battery will run the system for up to 4 hours of continuous use, according to the manufacturer.

For the whole story, check out the PC Magazine article
Bruce Brown

Bruce Brown, a PC Magazine Contributing Editor, is a former truck driver, aerobics instructor, high school English teacher, therapist, and adjunct professor (gypsy) in three different fields (Computing, Counseling, and Education) in the graduate departments of three different colleges and universities (Wesleyan University , St. Joseph College, and the University of Hartford). In the fall of 1981 he was bitten by the potentials of personal computing and conspired to leave the legitimacy of academia for a life absorbed in computer stuff. In the fall of 1982 he founded the Connecticut Computer Society and began publishing a newsletter that eventually had a (largely unpaid) circulation of 28,000.

Bruce has been a freelance writer covering personal computing hardware since 1983, the year he co-founded Soft Industries Corp., a computer consulting company, with Alfred Poor (also an ExtremeTech contributor) and Dick Ridington (a Fortune 500 consultant with Creative Realities, Inc., a Boston consulting firm). In 1988 Bruce left Soft Industries to be a full-time freelance writer. He has written for several now defunct publications including Lotus Magazine, PC Computing, PC Sources, and Computer Life as well as Computer Shopper and PC Magazine. In 1990 he and Craig Stinson co-wrote Getting the Most Out of IBM Current, an immediately remaindered work published by Brady Books.

Married to PC Magazine Contributing Editor Marge Brown, Bruce is the father of former PC Magazine Staff Editor Richard Brown (a former and currently thriving freelance writer), Liz Brown (a recent graduate of Colgate University who aspires a career in marketing and public relations), and Peter Brown (who evaluates console gaming systems and games for PC Magazine and various Websites).

Bruce can be contacted at bruce_brown@ziffdavis.com.


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