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Audrey beats the Palm for hottest 'net gadget

3Com said it would produce a new productivity appliance that would make Palm pale by comparison. With Audrey, though a very different device, it may have done just that.

3Com delivered on its promise to top the Palm Pilot as a revolutionary access-device when it unveiled 'Audrey,' an Internet appliance for the kitchen, living room or "nerve centre" of any home.

It is only available in the US market right now, because of the availability of geography-specific weather channels for example, but that won't be for long.

Audrey provides one-touch access to email, Internet channels, a household calendar, address book and Palm HotSync technology, and is the first of 3Com’s Ergo line of lifestyle-centred connected appliances.

But what makes it special are the pre-programmed links to Web pages, which—by entering your US zip code—will all be localized for your specific region. You no longer have to wade through a list of US cities to find the one you live in. Information and advertising useful to you is your first option.

"Audrey marks 3Com's entrance into a virtually untapped high-growth consumer market and represents 3Com's strategic focus on providing radical simplicity to the consumer," said Eric Benhamou, outgoing-chairman and CEO of 3Com Corporation.

"The Audrey experience allows consumers to spend less time with technology and more time doing the things they really want to do," said Don Fotsch, vice president and general manager of 3Com's Internet Appliance Division. "Our focus is to remove the complexity associated with accessing information on the Internet. Just like flipping a light switch, or turning on the radio, simply turn Audrey's dial and the information is there. Accessing zip code-specific weather, for example, is a virtually instant experience with Audrey."

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