A New Internet Appliance
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 attractivealbeit expensivedevice. 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.
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