3Com spreads "sunshine" on delayed Net appliance

The company, which has yet to launch its first Internet countertop appliance, inadvertently posts details on the device, including the colors.

Although 3Com has yet to launch its first Internet appliance, Audrey, as she is known, is beginning to show her colors.

To be specific, those colors are slate, ocean, sunshine, meadow and linen. The countertop Web-surfing device's price tag is slated to be $499. All that is according to information that was inadvertently posted on the 3Com Web site. However, those pages, which also included photos of Audrey, were replaced this morning with a teaser page for the product.

As previously reported, 3Com has delayed Audrey, which had been expected to ship this month. 3Com spokesman Brian Johnson told Bloomberg News today that the facts and photos on the site were authentic and said the company expects to introduce the device by the end of November. Johnson and other 3Com representatives would not comment further to CNET News.com.

Audrey, the first member of 3Com's Ergo family of appliances, has an 8-inch, color, touch-sensitive screen. It uses a combination of the Palm and Unix-variant QNX operating systems and is powered by National Semiconductor's Geode processor.

Among its other features listed on the Web site, Audrey has a dial that can be used to quickly move to one of a dozen preset Web sites. Audrey owners can "scribble, record or type" their email. In addition, Audrey comes with a built-in 56KB modem, a wireless keyboard and a built-in microphone and speakers.

News of 3Com's gaffe was posted yesterday on Palmstation.com.

One of the things that makes 3Com's upcoming product different from other Web terminals is that it is not tied to service from any one Internet service provider. Gateway has promised an America Online-branded kitchen countertop device later this year, while Compaq Computer is offering an appliance tied directly to Microsoft's MSN Internet service.

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