Tech Files: The i-opener - the World's first internet appliance

Tuesday, May 23rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Supposedly the next big thing on the computer horizon is something called an
internet appliance. This kind of conjures up the image of a blender attached to a phone line.

But in reality, this new item is called the i-opener. It's being sold for only $99 by a company named netpliance. Plug it into a phone jack, and the little thing will
automatically dial the company's internet service, which you have to subscribe to for $21.95 a month.

In case you're wondering, that's how they make money since they lose a few hundred dollars on every i-opener sold. If all you want to do is send email, check the latest news, worry about the weather, and surf the web, it's pretty hassle free. It also has a port for your printer.

In fact, as tech heads have figured out it has a lot more than that. Open one up and there
is a full pentium class computer inside, not bad for $99. The only thing missing is a hard drive.

Ingenious geeks immediately saw an opportunity, and have published web sites showing
how to convert an i-opener into a stand alone computer. After all who wouldn't want a computer for $99.

Netpliance fought back, first by modifying the machine to make changing it tougher, and then forcing buyers to pay for three months of internet service in advance. It's still possible to modify them though, if you can find one. Stores are mostly sold out and there is a four to six week wait for orders placed over the Internet.

Netpliance is the first company to offer a true internet appliance, but other companies will be offering internet appliances before the year is out.

To go to the netpliance web page, click on the link below.