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HP's Internet appliance really just a small PC

Hewlett-Packard will release its first "Internet appliance" on Monday that will change PC architecture in at least one major way.

Hewlett-Packard will release its first "Internet appliance" on Monday that will change PC architecture in at least one major way.

The case doesn't open.

HP's "Internet appliance" is HP's attempt to join the design movement sweeping the computer world. The new device will come in a stylized, small case and come in colors other than beige, said sources close to HP. Further, the case will be sealed, giving it a more sleek look but making it impossible to open.

Otherwise, the unit will be a standard PC revved up for the new millennium. It will run the variety of Windows operating systems and contain a PC processor, sources said. The idea behind the new system will be to bring some semblance of style to business PC desktops. Being smaller, the new computer will also take up less space on desktops. Another feature: the system will not come with a floppy, said the source.

A number of companies, taking their cue from Apple and Sony, have begun to release more innovative looking computers. IBM, for instance, recently released snap-on notebook covers for notebooks. Compaq, meanwhile, has released an ovalized cobalt blue PC for consumers, while Gateway has released systems with a built-in monitor. AMD, for its part, is licensing a new age computer design, built around a K6-2 processor, to manufacturers.

It remains to be seen how big the style movment will get. All-in-one systems cost more than separate monitor and PC combinations, Steve Baker, an analyst at PC Data said.

On the other hand, most of these new age PCs are free of clunky "legacy" technology such as ISA ports and floppy drives. Without this technology, motherboards and PCs can be made smaller, itself a design benefit.

Some companies, such as Dell, have also said they are experimenting with personalized "skins" or cases, which could add flair without a lot of additional cost.