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Audrey, 3Com's Net appliance, to make its entrance

The delayed product, a countertop unit with an 8-inch touch screen, will make its official debut next week.

3Com's delayed Internet appliance, known as Audrey, will make its official debut Tuesday, according to sources familiar with the company's plans.

Audrey, a countertop unit with an 8-inch touch screen, is designed to be the first in a family of Internet appliances dubbed Ergo. Audrey uses a combination of the QNX and Palm operating systems. It runs on National Semiconductor's Geode processor.

A 3Com representative was not immediately available for comment.

Audrey has had several cameos, including a brief, inadvertent appearance on 3Com's Web site. Audrey was originally due to take the stage last month, but its arrival was delayed shortly before a planned launch.

The $499 unit comes in colors such as slate, ocean, sunshine, meadow and linen, according to the no-longer posted Web site. Audrey is designed to synch with Palm handheld computers and also has a dial that can shuttle between preset Web sites.

According to the briefly posted Web site, Audrey owners can "scribble, record or type" their email on the unit, which comes with a built-in 56K modem, a wireless keyboard and a built-in microphone and speakers. Unlike devices from Microsoft and America Online, Audrey is designed to work with a variety of Internet service providers.