Devices called pads, appliances or companions are available that can offer basic Web surfing and e-mail in a computer that has been stripped down.
Reuters Limited has reported that companies like PC maker Compaq Computer Corp., software designer Microsoft, and Internet services provider America Online Inc. have begun offering devices called pads, appliances or companions that can offer basic Web surfing and e-mail in a computer that has been stripped down to just a chip, a screen and a modem for connecting to the Internet. The devices will supposedly eliminate long startups, upgrade problems, and computer crashes. But, the devices also limit the choice of ISP and won't be able to accommodate the installation of any other software. Analysts predict that it may take two to three years before the products win consumer acceptance.