S3 spin-off develops net appliance

"Companies that are trying to make Internet appliances into a PC replacement are going about it all wrong," says Ward Williams, director of product marketing for Frontpath. "This is a whole new market."

The new company is a spin-off of S3, and its announcement comes a little more than a month after S3 closed down its graphics business unit. S3 is announcing the creation of Frontpath on Wednesday, but will not yet disclose the product name, pricing, or partnerships, all of which are already in place.

Its product strategy is to address vertical markets immediately and release a consumer version sometime in 2001.

The unnamed peripheral has a 10.4-inch touch screen. Since it has no embedded keyboard, you enter text through a stylus or a touch-driven on-screen keyboard. Operating on Linux, the appliance is always connected and can access the Internet without you needing to log on.

The unit operates without either power or modem wires, but will require a nearby wireless LAN transmitter (usually hooked to a high-bandwidth modem) in order to send and receive data. Although it is not portable in the strictest sense of the word -- you can't take it out to the beach to surf the Web and check your e-mail -- it will let you refer to the Internet throughout the day from allow within your home or office.

Almost Mobile

As cool and convenient as this may be, its limited scope (the unit won't operate well outside of a 150-foot range from the LAN transmitter) may make it less flexible. Many consumers may wait until a truly portable unit is available. Williams acknowledges this, but he says the product's advantages will overcome any limitations perceived from this lack of portability.

Initial targeted vertical markets include travel, hospitality, real estate, education, and medical. Frontpath intends to build strengths in these areas first, before the consumer rollout.

The company is developing software environments for each category, which will "learn" your habits and suggest similar sites to the ones you visit, according to Williams.

Williams expects the marketing and pricing to follow the mobile phone model: The units themselves will be cheap or free as long as you sign up for an extended service period. Furthermore, Frontpath hopes the product will reach the market ahead of products from larger companies that have not yet determined what the market needs.

"We are a disruptive technology," Williams says. "We are offering something unique and new."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Charles Bermant

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?