Monday, June 07, 2010

Internet Appliances Finding a Market

Recently, Apple Computer, with its launch of the iPad and before that the iPhone, has given us a look at what “computers” should and will look like. Far from the iconic monitor, keyboard, mouse and big box CPU that many of us grew up with, these new breeds of computing devices are beginning to look like something right out of Star Trek. We are used to having computers buried in the innards of our cars, our microwaves and coffee makers. Now, there are some other special purpose computers coming on the market that may find their way onto your kitchen counter or bedroom night stand.

These devices are small, stylish, inexpensive and simple to use. Their beauty may be in that they do not do everything. Perhaps engineers and designers have abandoned the swiss-army-knife approach to all things electronic.

Sony offers one of these devices called the “dash” personal internet viewer. The dash uses wifi to connect to the internet and, just like many smart phones, can run special purpose applications. The color display touch screen measures about 8 x10 inches. It comes with built in speakers. So you can preprogram it to access the current weather, traffic and perhaps your favorite news service like or Of course, it has several clock features as well.

By connecting to web sites like Pandora, you can have your favorite music wake you in the morning. While you can’t send messages to Facebook or mySpace you can review postings on your sites.

Other special use devices that are getting very popular are Internet Radios. These small desk top devices look like a regular radio but they do not receive radio signals over the air. They use the Internet. Most every radio station in the US and many around the world provide their programming to listeners via the Internet. So if your taste in radio programs runs toward Lithuanian Folk Songs, you can listen to all your favorites right from Vilnius. All programs are crystal clear and you don’t need a short wave radio.

Internet radio was once a novelty. Using a regular computer to listen is a hassle since you need to boot up, connect with the Internet and then point your browser to the right address. Internet Radios make it a breeze since they automatically connect to the internet when you turn them on and you store your various internet addresses just like you do with the push buttons on your car radio.

Look for other special purpose computers and Internet appliances to show up on store shelves. Some may look and feel like your favorite lap top but most will be entirely new designs as different as a smart phone is from the black rotary dial phone in your grandma’s hallway.

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