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Cover Story

3Com Audrey
3Com Unveils Breakthrough Internet Appliance Targeting The Connected Household

Delivering on the promise of providing radical simplicity and convenience for consumers, 3Com has created the very attractive and eye-catching Audrey, a breakthrough Internet appliance created for the kitchen, living room or "nerve center" of any home. Audrey, with one-touch access to email, Internet channels, a household calendar, address book and Palm HotSync technology, debuts as the first in 3Com’s Ergo line of lifestyle-centered connected appliances.

Audrey replaces the clutter and chaos of the typical family refrigerator calendaring and messaging system with sloppy post-its and ripped paper corners lingering the kitchen counters. With Audrey you can keep track of individual and family plans, appointments and special events on the family calendar; and, if desired, synchronize with two Palm-compatible handheld organizers. Each user’s calendar is color-coded, and you have the option to view a consolidated household schedule. And to make planning a breeze, daily weather forecasts appear on the calendar at the push of a button. A shared family address book can be similarly created using HotSync technology.

‘’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, chairman and CEO of 3Com Corporation.

Audrey, a connected appliance that works with most ISPs, enables intuitive information access, communication and organization for entire households. There’s no need to switch ISPs in most cases, and Audrey even works with your cable or DSL connection. Convenient and immediate access to favorite pre-selected Internet content is as easy as changing the channel on a television. Simply scroll through the content with a turn of Audrey channel selector knob.

Staying in touch through email has never been easier. Audrey provides an intuitive, on-the-fly email experience. Touch the ‘’Mail’’ button at the bottom of the screen for three convenient input options-type, speak, type or scribble a handwritten message. When docked in the top of the unit, Audrey stylus flashes green when new email arrives.

3Com conducted in-home research on how families work and live and how they want technology to work for them. The Ergo (pronounced ‘’air-go’’) products, named for a Latin term meaning ‘’therefore,’’ represent the best of the Internet in a convenient and intuitive way.

‘’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 the Audrey dial and the information is there. Accessing zip code-specific weather, for example, is a virtually instant experience with Audrey.’’

3Com’s lifestyle research revealed that people want immediate access to specific information such as news, sports and weather. By turning the Audrey channel selector knob, preferred Internet channels scroll across the bottom of the screen as if on a filmstrip. Audrey arrives out-of-the-box preset with the following basic channels:,,, and Mr. Showbiz.

People can customize some of the basic channels to meet personal information needs such as local weather information or stock quotes. In addition to these basic channels, consumers can also select six additional channels from a growing list of lifestyle-oriented Internet content and e-commerce providers. Credit card and shipping information can be kept securely on file, allowing consumers to order Chinese take-out, purchase sunscreen for a weekend trip or buy a couple of CDs Online at the turn of the dial. New channels will regularly become available as partners sign up with 3Com to offer specialized content for Audrey customers.

For those who wish to print an email or Internet information, two USB ports on Audrey are available to connect a new Bubble Jet printer from Canon.

Audrey is available in five colors to color-coordinate with home décor in high traffic locations. The colors include: ocean, meadow, sunshine, linen and slate. Audrey weighs 4.1 pounds, measures 9x11x3 inches, and can be used in an upright or flat position. The 8-inch, 12-bit color touch screen is legible from several feet and is a great place to scribble a quick message to family members as you run out of the house.

Audrey also comes packaged with a 200MHz processor, 16MB of ROM, 32MB of RAM, and an upgradeable operating system. Additional hardware included with Audrey is two speakers in the top panel, an external speaker jack, 56K V.90 modem, microphone, two USB ports, serial port, two RJ-11 phone jacks and a power port.

Audrey comes with a one-year limited warranty and is now available for $499. The product may be ordered Online at or at selected retailers. <CLM

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