StarTronix International today unveiled a home office device that claims to do it all: it's a telephone, printer, fax machine, credit card transaction machine, and terminal for accessing the Internet and StarTronix's own online service, StarNet.
The company calls the device an "Internet screen phone," named the StarScreen. StarTronix is going to give the StarScreen away in an effort to promote the company's StarNet online service, which is set to launch this spring, according to Shane Gilbert, head of investor relations at StarTronix.
The StarScreen-StarNet combination will be targeted more toward the home business user or telecommuter than either America Online or CompuServe are, according to Gilbert.
"We're going to be like ESPN and have tailored information so people won't get lost. For example, we're going to have some news and information on how to start your own business," said Gilbert.
StarNet and Internet access fees will start at $45 to $60 for up to 40 hours of access time per month, Gilbert said. Per-hour fees for more than 40 hours of access have not yet been set.
Like Oracle, Sun, and IBM's much-touted Internet terminals, the StarScreen is designed to extend the online access market to include users who can't afford or don't need all the power of more expensive PCs.
"We're aiming at your average person, not your high-tech person. There is such a big gap from the powerful PC of today and the telephone, and a lot of people can benefit from home shopping and home banking. We want to provide the unit so you don't have to buy an expensive PC," said Gilbert.
The StarScreen will include a telephone handset; speakerphone; digital answering machine; caller ID: phone keypad; LCD; 512K of RAM; keyboard; mouse, printer, video peripheral, and communications ports; two PCMCIA slots; a magnetic credit card swipe; and a fax-modem. The device will not include a hard drive.