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My Appliance is Smarter Than Your Appliance: Reviewing the I-Opener - page 3

Surveying the Internet Appliance Market

  • February 16, 2000
  • By Kevin Reichard

For me, the bottom line is whether I'd recommend the i-opener to someone in my family for use as an Internet appliance. In this respect, I must admit some level of ambivalence: my younger sister and brother are already PC owners, but the i-opener could conceivably fit the needs of my sister, who spends most of her PC time connected to the Internet sending e-mail and electronic Blue Mountain Arts greeting cards, although she fires up the occasional game. My brother, with four kids of varying ages, requires a CD-ROM drive for a plenitude of games, and there's no way the i-opener would fit his needs. (Although he'd probably be interested in the specialized i-opener for Kids and Teens, which filters objectionable Internet content.)

My father, on the other hand, would probably love the i-opener. He's a handy guy, though not necessarily that comfortable with high technology (he's better at repairing Briggs and Stratton engines than setting up his VCR), and the fact that setting up the i-opener is merely a matter of plugging in power and phone cords would appeal to him. Unlike many of you reading this review, he's not interested in the mechanics of computing and really wouldn't care whether the OS was Linux or QNX or CP/M. True, there would be a pang when I explain to him that the i-opener was incapable of running commercial software, but by and large he'd probably be happy with the offerings of the Internet.

As will, I suspect, most people. I don't expect many of the people reading this article to rush out and buy an i-opener for their own use, but I would expect that many of us will think of a friend or relative who is eager to get on the Internet but doesn't want the hassle and the expense of a full-fledged PC. More and more work can be done directly on the Internet, whether it's standard office-suite stuff through ThinkFree.com or gaming via various sites. Right now, we have the technology and expertise to create high-performance Web appliances at a price point that can be embraced by mass consumers. The i-opener is a good example of how such a product can be produced and marketed--and it's also a good blueprint for the Linux appliance of tomorrow.

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