Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
America Online

AOL/Transmeta/Gateway Internet Appliance Launch 113

A reader writes "America Online and Gateway are launching their Linux/Transmeta internet appliance today. The webcast can be seen here." The webcast is in Real Audio - you can also find our original coverage of this, back in late May 2000.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

AOL/Transmeta/Gateway Internet Appliance Launch

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just when you thought the tech IPO frenzy was over and idiotic sites like pets.com and mothernature.com finally met their timely demise, another unbelievable IPO comes up and boggles our collective minds. Transmeta, producers of the intensely fabulous new CPU which almost every computer company refuses to use, launched into the glitzy world of IPOs this week and shares of their stock jumped to an impressive $45 per share. "But, you might be thinking. "Transmeta actually produces something! They're famous for their award-winning Crusoe chip, the CPU which is more power-efficient than a similarly-rated Intel processor, yet is 15 million times as slow! I can understand why you would make fun of idiotic sites like Pets.com, which was obviously the result of a fraternity bet gone out of control, but not Transmeta! They actually do something! Also, I think my house is being robbed!"

    Well, you're right and you're wrong. Transmeta does do something; as mentioned before, they produce chips that practically no company wants to use. Their Crusoe chip has been snubbed by IBM, Toshiba, and Compaq. Why? Perhaps the benefit of having their computer's battery life prolonged by 10 minutes doesn't outweigh the fact that the Crusoe CPU has the raw processing power of a Wal-Mart cordless phone. Of course there's always a need for slow computers, so there's probably sufficient market demand for the chip. For example, people who produce sci-fi movies seem to have an infatuation with computers that run really slow and display the realtime results of whatever bogus scientific calculations they're running. You know what I'm talking about; like when people get a picture of somebody and then try to match that person's face through a database full of other people. The computer will start producing vulgar beeping noises, almost as if it's got a huge gob of snot caught in its sound chip, and then it will begin to sluggishly cycle through the faces of all the people in the database. The computer usually goes slow enough that any mildly retarded human being could manually flip through the records themselves and make a visual match, so I would imagine the CPU running inside the system has to be remarkably underpowered. Well, either that or they've got a lot of crap running in the system tray, like Norton Antivirus or Norton Disk Doctor or Norton Utilities or Norton Virtual Cereal or Norton Does Dallas or whatever. Or even better yet, AOL! Since science fiction movies take place in the future, it'd probably be something ultra-cyber hip like AOL v183! Virtual coolness on the Information Superhighway!

    However, Transmeta doesn't only give support for AOL v183, they also do something that many companies can't, at least without help from employees of Gamefan's sales staff: they lose over $43 million a year. Yup, 43 big ones. Actually, I think "big ones" refers to thousands of dollars, not millions, so I can only assume that the term used to describe the word "millions" is even more impressive than "big ones." It's probably something like "gigantic wheelbarrows full of fatties," only less lame.

    It continues to amaze me how badly investors want to throw their cash into anything that looks even remotely high-tech, especially considering how all the tech stocks have fallen faster than a Singapore Airlines jet full of overweight Americans. Let's look at AMD for a second. People may not remember back this far, especially if they've been mixing their Tang drink powder with the clear liquid labeled "SOLVENT" under their sink, but AMD at one point in time was a terrible, terrible, terrible chip. The original K-series, even up to the K-3, didn't have enough processing power to display both a flashing cursor AND a mouse pointer icon on the screen at once. Attempting to do so would often result in a comical array of exotic error messages, effectively ending all hopes of using Microsoft Notepad. An easy way to estimate the equivalent Intel Pentium speed of an AMD K-series chip would be to use the following equation:

    Equivalent Pentium Speed = ((AMD K-Series Chip Speed) - (AMD K-Series Chip Speed)) + 75

    Regardless of what speed chip you bought, it invariably ended up running like a Pentium 75. On the positive side, the K-series chips cost about as much as a supersizing an extra value meal at McDonalds, so it wasn't that huge of a loss. The point I'm trying to make here is that it took AMD years and years to catch up (and eventually overtake) Intel... and this was back when there were only two chipmakers in the market! Oh, and please don't try to claim there were three chipmakers back then, because the only reason anybody used a Cyrix chip was solely to weigh down their motherboard so it wouldn't fly away on a windy day. If it took AMD years to get where they are now, and they only had one competitor, what does that say about Transmeta? They have to go up against two gigantic, hulking heavyweights of computing power, two infinitely large companies that are just waiting for Transmeta to get in the shower of competition and drop the soap of success. How's that for an analogy?

    Maybe I just don't understand the way of the industry. Perhaps I'm too stupid to comprehend the mad rush to invest in something that has consistently lost money, is inferior in performance to all competitors, and is in a market dominated by two humongous companies. Do investors simply like underdogs? Do they hate owning money, and is investing in companies like Transmeta easier than going out of their way to find a cliff that they can throw laundry bags full of cash off of? I can't provide an answer to those questions, but I can tell you this: your house probably isn't being robbed.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    It appears from the AP article that the device can only be connected to AOL by phone. As a large number of us have discovered, phone connections suck, as they use up your phone line. So you either have to have your phone 'disconnected' while you use it, or get several lines. It also won't work well as a second computer for the same reasons. Basically the device doesn't fit into a home network anywhere, it's just an AOL wart.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This thing is doomed to failure. An untested, unproven processor with an operating system not known for its quickness (look at the upcoming 2.4 release--what a big, ungainly, (dare I say "bloated"?) mess). If this thing were to take off, I think you'd find that within a few months there'd be a lot of complaints that it doesn't work as well as promised.

    I think this could benefit from another year or so of redesign, possibly with QNX or other more appropriately quick and small OS.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    You can find a narrowband broadcast somewhere on this page [aol.com].
  • His OS was revoloutionary, his processor was revoloutionary, and he still wants to make money. There is a HUGE market for easy to use web appliances that may use these devices. If this product is done well and can be used for a decent price... Computers make strange bedfellows.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Anyone think this has anything to do with Netscape 6.0 beiong launched today too?
  • You mean you don't have a phone jack and power outlet near your toilet? Do you have an outhouse or something? Though, having a phone in the bathroom would suck. Nothing like getting a call while on the toilet. I would imagine it being much worse than having dinner interrupted by a telemarketer. :-)
  • What if it is a modified file system only supported in their kernel? I've come across these when prying into Linux appliances. Combined with unsupported hardware it becomes pretty tough to crack...
  • With an internet appliance you can't afford to spend a dime more than you have to. They don't care if Linux is cool, just that its free and it works.
  • Nothing like getting a call while on the toilet. I would imagine it being much worse than having dinner interrupted by a telemarketer

    Just wait for cheap videophones, then you'll have a line of defence.
  • I wouldn't mind seeing some more information about this (this could be good for certain family members) but I don't have the bandwidth at work to view the stream.
  • there are several providers of 802.11

    two off the top of my head:
    -wavelan

    -symbol technologies (their products are called spectrum 24; they even have a palm pilot that uses 802.11)
  • Think about it. Aol competes with MS and its MSN service. AOL had to agree to bundle internet explorer to get distributed with windows.

    It a natural consequence of MS getting into so many fields.
    Do you think Sony is going to like selling PCs with MS windows while competing with the X-Box.

    Linux is looking more and more viable every day.

  • >But most importantly of all (I just COULDNT resist) -- I wonder what a beowolf cluster of these would do for Seti@home?

    No one will ever know, but can we expect to start getting a new "COMPLETELY RENEWED, UPGRADED, WITH ALL THE LATEST FEATURES AND BRAND NEW FUNCTIONALITY - PLUS 7,000,000,000 FREE HOURS (in your first month), coppies of RedHat 5.1?

    Just currious

    E
  • Apple is just selling a repackaged Wavelan. Open up the AirPort hub, and its a Lucent card in there. They didn't even bother to relabel it. James
  • I've seen ~$600 bandied around here (though I couldn't find it at Gateway),

    That's because even us sales people at Gateway haven't been told the price. I have seen the actual unit, but not turned on. Looks pretty cool. Has a stylus that is stored in back.

    --
    alSeen@narnia.net
  • Is winamp included? :)

    Dunno if you were paying attention or not, champ, but this is an AOL/Linux/Transmeta appliance.

    Perhaps a better question is, does it run XMMS? =]
  • This one has got a log less chance of success than any of it's predecessors. Why? Two things:

    AOL
    Gateway

    Sure, it doesn't have any real use, etc. but that is exactly what most younger, richer complete morons are looking for. I can see the little morons lining up to get at these things. Knowing that their trusty parents/grandparents will foot the bill for anything that sounds like it's a computer. They also won't have to worry about any of those annoying features like usability, local storage or having any good companies backing it. For the ignorant bastard this is the ideal waste of money. The people who will flock to these are either already losers or have many friends/relatives who are. With two crap-ass (to the technical user) companies behind it these have a lot less going for them than even gateway's own products. All of the failures so far have either been a) unheard of start-ups or b) well known for other things so this product will still fail, but because of the companies backing it it will be a loud, publicized failure.

    Of course, this is all just in theory.
  • Bottom line? AOL users like that crap. They're simple enough that it's necessary for their computing experience. They won't notice if the machine happens to be sluggish.

    Actually, a question I tend to hear from AOL users looking into buying a new computer or upgrading... 'Will my AOL go faster?'

    Just my two pennies.
    --
    Dan B.
  • (TSIA)
    Not having a hard drive also helps keep it cool.

  • Well if AOL/Time-Warner/Netscape/Jims Lube and Service have worked with Gateway to make a product that uses Linux that pretty much takes care of the whole world domination thing doesnt it? Guess we can go home now.

  • Its a genuine effort the part of AOL to leverage three really stunning buzz words to sell their product: Linux, Internet Appliance, and Transmeta.

    Maybe those things work for this purpose. I did think there was a reason that people like Linux and Transmeta. I don't think it's all hype, and I think there just might be some /.ers who agree with me.

  • Please tell me its not true... Oh well, maybe they'll release a WORKING copy of aim this time.
  • 802.11 is too damned expensive.

    Define too expensive? Mine cost $99/card, for a total of $300 for three 2Mb 802.11 stations. Checkout the ZoomAir line.
  • I think I read somewhere that it was intended to retail for $599! I don't know about the rest of you but I can buy a full PC for less.

    It doesn't matter what you can buy for less, because they don't expect you to buy one. Their target market doesn't want a full PC. In fact, I'm convinced that a full third of AOL's users don't want PCs. PCs are too complicated. They just want AOL, the new electronic gossip fence... another pseudoinformative entertainment appliance like the phone and the TV.

    And they don't shop where you do. So, someone who wants AOL and email and might, just might, venture onto the Internet some day, walks, reluctantly, into the local Gateway cow-store, and sees this thing at the low cost end of a row of PCs. They save money and avoid the complexity of a PC. It's a natural. And remember, this market outnumbers Slashdot readers by at least 1000:1.

  • Maybe not. I haven't seen anywhere that their pricing is based on subscription discounts. I've seen ~$600 bandied around here (though I couldn't find it at Gateway), which would fit with the "you bought it" scenario. There's no reason for them to cripple the machine or attempt to make it non-hackable. I haven't seen any Gateway PCs with epoxy covering the board, etc.

    jred
    www.cautioninc.com [cautioninc.com]
    caution, inc.
  • A Reader writes... a reader writes... Grrr... I was that 'reader' up at 4am researching and writing what this article refers to...
    2000-11-10 09:07:42 AOL Releases Transmeta/Linux Webpad TODAY (articles,transmeta) (rejected)
    And posting it with plenty of time for you all to see the webcast demo & release live.. and for those of you in NYC to possibly get into it, and bring back reports. Now if I only had the links I included in that article, I might actually be able to make this post more entertaining and informative... grumble.
    Your Dogma ran over my Karma!
  • Now you're just being picky. The point is that it is fairly easy to wire your house up to have network ports in any given room. So you unplug the power cord and the network cable and go to another room, that's not a huge undertaking, and it is MUCH easier than trying to bring a normal PC from room to room.

  • Now that is rather odd. I think that AOL's venture into linux will fail miserably. Linux's being open source simply does not support AOL's business strategy of screwing up the system settings so that no other ISP's will work. Linux people would be able to fix the settings, plus, they would probably not be so dumb as to install it in the first place.
  • I can't wait to open this baby up and hack a way to install linu.... oh wait, nevermind.
  • Forgive me if i responded to a troll, but...
    What makes AOL think this is going to work?

    Why would it not work? They know the nessesary protocols to enable stuff to connect to their proprietory network &tc, they get linux, they screw with the stuff that connects. IE: They modify netscape, (wonder if this has anything to NS6.0 being released). They dont bother with a WM (nfi if this is true.) They rig the machine to boot into runlevel 5 (x i think), they ask for a uname/passwd and viola connection to the net taht is no worse than Win/IE, and i am sure a damn site harder for the ^Luser to screw up.

    I sincerely hope that somewhere in Linus's code is something akin to: if (IsAol(this)) delete this;

    Yes this would be great wouldnt it, i mean that would make linux look just beautiful to any company that is considering using Linux anywhere, i am aware that what you said is probably a joke, but it is akin to saying, well if we dont like you we reserve the right to not let you use the OS for anything, coz i/we/me/us dont agree with your business (letting idiots connect to the net) or it practices (how damn big are they again?)

    Its nice to see the big boys using linux, but to run AOL? What a waste.

    A waste? Well let me see what this MAY lead to: better H/W support for linux, did/does not gateway need to ensure that the h/w will work with linux??
    With that many ppl who use AOL, (hell even in AU they must be getting ppl thanx to their new adverts on the tube), who would not consider porting some new WonderApp(TM)to Linux, esp if they can get it to work on this AOL box (any answers there?). So running AOL is bad in what way? I mean on this box, not for you but for Grandma? It is not like you have to buy one, it does not hurt linux.

    In Summary my thoughts on what this box may do:
    * Better h/w support.
    * Better application support.
    * If it is a success, a huge public offering that everyone can see is running, linux, IE: Free Publicity.


    How every version of MICROS~1 Windows(TM) comes to exist.
  • Well, you're right and you're wrong. Transmeta does do something; as mentioned before, they produce chips that practically no company wants to use. Their Crusoe chip has been snubbed by IBM, Toshiba, and Compaq. Why? Perhaps the benefit of having their computer's battery life prolonged by 10 minutes doesn't outweigh the fact that the Crusoe CPU has the raw processing power of a Wal-Mart cordless phone.

    Not having ever seen/touched/played with a Transmeta CPU, but having looked at a few links on the web, esp places who have played with them esp. the C`t article/benchmark, i personally believe the above remark to be unfounded. If the chip auto scales its speed, and when required can even play DVD movies, it certainly has sufficient power for WebSurfing &tc, hell i mean even when it is running at full speed (if what i read is correct) it draws squat all power, when it is compared to Intel procs (the stoopid speed-step included), it is lean mean and fast. As for the 10 minutes extension, hell, in the real world, it is likely to be a bit more than that, (turn down the brightness of the LCD a bit) and even if it is a 50% increase of battery life (as i am inclined to believe it is) of those laptops that only last 2-3 hiours that is 1-1.5 hours, a damn fuine effort that


    How every version of MICROS~1 Windows(TM) comes to exist.
  • The reason why the unit is priced at $600 is that it costs a fair bit of money to put together:

    • A suitably small motherboard
    • A suitably large touch-sensitive LCD screen
    • Some sort of storage that fits in...
    • A case built specifically to integrate all of the above into one handheld package that might survive dropping it onto the floor.


    Dont foget that this device is probably not SUBSIDISED by AOL, like say the netpliance. I am figuring that GateWay are aiming for $50-100 profit on it, so that when some Linux Hax0r buys one, opens 'er up, and does not read the license agreement, and works out a way to make it useful, they wont loose money on it.

    Now taking the bets, how long after it release will it be before someone has a HDD in it, connected to their home network, and runing a multitufe of OS's?

    • Within One day 50:1
    • Within One Week 5:1
    • Within One month 10:1
    • Within One Year 100000000000:1 (be a damn site before this)
    • Never (10^10^10^10^10)^10:1



    How every version of MICROS~1 Windows(TM) comes to exist.
  • at first, this looked sorta cool, but then i feel sorta dirty. I mean...sure..transmeta..very cool and geekish...oooh...and linux too! very cool. UGH! AOL! ack! a cool thing from the wrong people. :(

  • but its the "low bandwidth" link.

    http://stre am. web.aol.com/ramgen/aol/events/instantaol/launch_lo w.rm [aol.com]

    Doesn' t much matter though since it won't even connect for me :)
  • according to this article [zdnet.com] on ZDnet, MS will be teaming with Transmeta to develop a Tablet PC.
    Those of you who were wondering why all those Pro-MS slashdot articles in the last couple of days, wonder no more.
  • Well then I can't say anything about /.ing on the throne (aside from being quite overkill), but for grocery lists I find that a 20$ planner from RadioSmack does the job just fine. That's 20$ Canadian! Sure, it's practically useless for anything else, but then again it does what it's designed for. These touchpad things aren't really designed for anything except raking in some forced cash in AOL's deep pockets. If you want to make grocery lists, get a cheap planner. If you want to look like an important, rich ignorant asshole, get a Palmpilot and flash it around. If you want a portable PC, get a laptop.. but for the love of fnarg, don't go for anything in-between. You don't _need_ to be online every second of the day.
  • The article mentions that the TouchPad is planned to hit the market at 599$. 600 bucks for a stupid little web browsing thing ? Any trained gerbil could build a REAL PC for that price. Any midrange PC would be better than a dead-end proprietary device. An AMD K6-2-500 can be built for roughly the same price, but you'll be able to do much more than simple web browsing and email with it. 64mb ram, 10gb hard drive, sound, modem, lan, speakers, cdrom, monitor.. a complete entry-level PC for 600$ or less.
  • I don't think they'd really care too much if people hacked them apart. In fact I don't think it will be to hard to mess with these things. Its not like they are seriously loss leading the box. $499-$599 is a very fair price for the hardware. From the dexription is just seems like a toiuch screen i-opener. I didn't see any mention of portable or wireless in any PR or article. Infact I bet the reason teh went with transmeta was for the heat reduction and not requiring a fan. I bet they will give a huge rebate (i.e. the immensely popular $400 new pc rebate) for new or extended subscription requireing ca. 3 years of service.
  • So now consumers can equate transmeta with AOL, seeing as most consumers are idiots and it's the only product out that has a transmeta product in it.

    You would think they would try to stay as far away from evil monopoly buisnesses as possible. They're trying to take themselves down as quickly as possible, huh?
    ---
  • Obviously, you don't compost....
  • After getting some cheap 802.11 2 meg wireless cards for my laptop I don't EVER want to go back to dragging that 50 ft ethernet cable around anymore. :-) It is so nice to be able to kick back on the couch without any wireless dangling around for someone to trip on (taking your $2500 laptop along with them right out of your hand! :-).
  • If your "business" is getting interrupted by telemarketers, then it's not your problem if you wind up producing disgusting noises that cause them to want to end the call early...
  • you can also find our original coverage [slashdot.org] of this, back in late May 2000.
    Who'd have thought? Obviously people who've been reading /. since May 2000 shouldn't be surprised...
    --
  • Read the AP article that someone linked.

    --
  • What I want to know, is, if it has optional ethernet, how about a wireless WaveLAN card? Then you could haul it around the house and make sure you get first post on /.

    --
  • I mean, somebody has to pay the bills, and it's usually some consumer [bbspot.com] or taxpayer.
  • Also, will this be a good test of transmeta's performance finally?

    Doubtful. Web surfing doesn't stress the processor much. What it'll probably be stressing is Netscape plugin code efficiency, when it stresses anything at all.
  • I don't want to hear about it! I want to see it, read about it, find out how it works and ultimately -- take it apart, change the ISP it connects to and add a hard drive. Is that too much to ask?
  • Who says they're doing any kernel mods?

    Even if they are, they could write a really clever EULA that says, in essence, "We own the box. You do not. We own the software. You do not." This would mean that they are not legally distributing any binaries, and are thus not required to release their source code.
  • unzip;strip;touch;finger;mount;fsck;more;yes;umoun t;sleep

    gawk;find;eval;select;test;talk;ssh;init;make;to uch;unzip;strings;strip;head;split;finger; \ wait;mount;do;fsck;top;switch;tail;elnightenment;y es;more;halt;umount;shutdown;sleep;dump
  • tech web story [techweb.com]


    Info world [infoworld.com] and

    all net devices [allnetdevices.com]

    Uses transmetta processor , is basically a web pad.

  • that AOL users don't care about a shell, they don't know what a root password is, and thus don't care if it has one, that Gateway is too cheap to spend extra money to make it less attractive, and that AOL didn't take the time to even set permissions, much less restrict them.
    Remember, you're not the target audience...
  • 1. Unlimited Karma whoring. Imagine using a webpad in the bathroom to write comments. You'd be the most brilliant poster on slashdot.

    2. Infinite access to porn. Its just the right size to replace holding a playboy in one hand. How perfect is that?

    3. Ultimate connectivity. No more running back to the bedroom during midnight snacking. There is another computer in the kitchen

    4. Look mom, linux is EASIER than windows!

    5. Read #4 again, out loud, and beam with joy.

    6. Proclaim "ITS ALIVE" as you mix the hottest geek processor, the hottest geek OS, and the WORST online community.

    7. FINALLY prove that there CAN be 31337 AOL users.

    Okay, so I made #7 up..

  • I'd expect Gateway/AOL to follow Compaq's pricing structure for their iPaq Home Internet Appliance [compaq.com], in which they offer a $400 rebate for a 36-month committment to the MSN Companion Service.
  • It was hacked? Got a pointer to the info?

    -Vercingetorix
  • There will be three devices. the First will be the wired device you see now. the last (and not in production yet) will be an 802.11 version.

    expect it after january .
  • Not a Linux guru, but it strikes me that if it has a hard drive, and that hard drive can be extracted and returned to the system unharmed, it can be cracked. Other writable filesystems like compactflash could have the same vulnerabilities.

    Mount it on YOUR Linux system as /gizmo, and use YOUR shell (with YOUR root) to do whatever you want to do to that filesystem. Replace /gizmo/etc/passwd, dump a few things in /gizmo/usr/bin and /gizmo/etc/config. Reinstall the hard drive in their hardware, and it's your hardware.

  • ...AOL will be able to market this thing, especially if they do the rebate thing in exchange for 2 or 3 years of agreed AOL membership. They've already got 30 million people gladly accepting advertising at every online move they make. All they have to do is show some beautiful, acne-free teenagers in Limp Bizkit shirts posting to MTV's Total Request Live chat rooms on these things.

    At least the touch screens will get them ready for a career of ringing up meals at fast food restaurants.

  • My question is, would AOL/Gateway/Transmeta/Whoever else is involved have any legal legs to stand on when (notice I say WHEN and not IF) these devices are hacked to work with other ISP's? AFAIK they are currently $599, which seems to me that they are for purchase. Could we have another I-Opener type "hot potato" on our hands here? IANAL, BTW.
  • According to gateway.com, there will be an optional ethernet port. Which bumps this little device up from "who cares" to "cool, could be interesting". Of course, that's just assuming the smarter-than-me folk will figure out how to customize the OS. Blah, blah, I'd like to see it as an Xterm...


    jred
    www.cautioninc.com [cautioninc.com]
    caution, inc.
  • A related RealPlayer stream (that works) is available on AOL's corporate site [aol.com]. Here are links to the broadband [aol.com]and narrowband [aol.com]versions of the stream.

    The presentation, by representatives of Gateway, AOL, Transmeta, and Broadcom, talks about Gateway's vision - the 'Wired Home' - HPNA and 802.11-based home device integration. Play MP3s from your PC, stream DVDs to your TV, get AIM in your kitchen, etc... It has a general introduction to the webpad, too, but it's targeted more at the stockholders and press.

    Gateway points out that their Select and Performance series PCs already have HPNA cards integrated.

    Of course, being Gateway, they have stated that the whole thing won't work with anything but Gateway PCs. They will have cards and software for other PCs 'sometime in the future'. Personally, I find it hard to believe that their stuff will only work on Gateway PCs. I bet that doesn't leave much oppertunity for open-source clients and servers either.

  • My realplayer is working properly. This event is not yet live or is currently being archived. I will try again later.

    Oooo! I've got mail! ;)

    ----

  • Isn't the entire point of using the Transmeta chips to save on power consumption?

    If the thing's plugged in, who cares how much power it uses!

    Just use an uber cheap celeron or something.

  • Apple has been providing 802.11 connectivity in most of their machines for approximately a year and a half. The only machine that they currently sell that you can't add 802.11 to is the cheapest iMac.

    Although Apple calls it Airport, it is just an 802.11 card and base station, and works transparently with Lucent hardware. And, Apple sells it cheap. Add a card, plug-n-play, to any Airport capable machine for $99; the base station is $299. Compare those prices to Bluetooth, and since the range is 150 feet rather than 30, I think you've got a pretty good deal.
  • it's relatively easy to set up a machine to be a ppp dialup server so that the xterm box "thinks it calling" an isp; whereas it's actually just using a twisted pair telco line into a linux ppp server. the linux ppp server is using isdn (or other highspeed) to connect to the net. not terribly difficult.
  • The pic from an old New York Times article:

    htt p:/ /graphics.nytimes.com/library/tech/00/05/biztech/a rticles/30chip.1.jpg [nytimes.com]

    its wee - but you get a rough idea of the shape... though its probably changed by now :)
  • Like so many politically correct (ie Linux-based) hi-tech schemes, this one seeks to provide a one-size fits all appliance that can't be easily hacked.

    Microsoft takes proprietary technologies and extends/improves them to suck people in.

    These guys are taking "open" technologies and closing them up in little boxes that can't be easily extended or improved.

    We've tried giving away hardware/software in exchange for ads -- that doesn't work.

    We've tried giving away software in exchange for service -- VA Linux and the like don't seem to be fairing well with that model.

    What else is left but subscription-based services and cheesy closed "linux" appliances?

    Oh well, guess I'm just OVERWHELMED by U.S.-style democracy this week.

  • # rm -f YouveGotMail.wav



  • This thing is doomed to failure. An untested, unproven processor with an operating system not known for its quickness.

    Oh, puh-lease.

    Even if everything you say were technically true, you forget the target market.

    AOL's advertising catch line is, "So Easy to Use, No Wonder it's #1".

    AOL users like their "IRC" client to be full of tacky sound effects like doors opening and closing.

    The user interface looks like it was designed by simplifying a preschooler's story book.

    And finally, there's the stupid "You've Got Mail" wav that they *love* to throw around everywhere.

    I've *never* had an AOL account, and that sound is forever burned into my mind, along with the horrible login ?chimes?.

    Bottom line? AOL users like that crap. They're simple enough that it's necessary for their computing experience. They won't notice if the machine happens to be sluggish.

    So, on the contrary, this is probably a great place to whet the Transmeta's teeth, since it's really not a demanding appliation, and it certainly isn't as mission critical as a new desktop or notebook. (Imagine, if you will, that the Transmeta is a Pentium 60 with the FDIV fault. It would never be noticed in an internet appliance, though a good spreadsheet would expose it.)

    If this thing were to take off, I think you'd find that within a few months there'd be a lot of complaints that it doesn't work as well as promised.

    I think you overestimate AOL users.


  • Quoted from subject line:

    Go away, micro$hit troll!

    Moi? A troll? But of course!

    But I take the Microsoft crack personally.

    I'm in league with many entities, but I'll have you know that the devil is not one of them.

  • Even if it's not totally portable, it's still cool as heck. If it weren't for the obvious AOL lock-in strategy, I'd be all about auctioning off my laptop to help fund the purchase of one of these bad boys. I've been wanting touch screen action for quite a while. As it is, there is no way AOL is getting me to sign up for their service. They'd have trouble giving me a device this cool, just extract their $21.95 a month from me.
  • Grandmas can't afford this type of thing.

    According to both candidates of the aborted presidental election, it is now clear that all older people in this country are eating dog food and can't even afford the medicine they need to stay alive.

    Oh well!

  • Assuming it really is based on Linux, AOL/Gateway will have to release kernel modifications to the public, which might give a pretty good starting point in terms of hacking into this thing..

    Of course, they are likely to try to put all of the interesting stuff in loadable modules to avoid this situation as much as possible...alas.

  • For $599, I'd guess they would be more open to hacking than i-opener.

    In any case, of course the company is going to 'forbid' hacking, just to cover their ass on support issues. But for $599, they must be making money on the hardware alone (which iOpener wasn't, they were losing money). Yeah, the display probably sets them back a bit, but also consider it has no internal harddrive, etc.

    No matter how you look at it, this thing seems very unlikely to be successful. $599 is an awful lot for a limited use 'appliance' when compared to full-blown low end PCs for sale these days.

  • Lord knows every other internet appliance has failed miserably.

    It's a real stretch to call the crap that's been released so far an 'internet appliance.' More like network computers.

    Let me know when the high-speed, wireless webpads with touch LCD screens and instant-on capabilities show up! These real internet appliances will be rolling out in 2001. Let the games begin!

    -thomas

    "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
  • Okay, the Gateway site for it is http://www.gateway.com/consumer/connectedhome/prom otedcosmos/kepler/intro.shtml [gateway.com]

    Anyway, it seems to be aimed at somebody who already has a PC, and wants an Internet access device elsewhere in the house. It'll be cool to see how it gets hacked...
  • Sure, but you don't have a touchscreen or wireless keyboard, and the PC takes up much more space.

    Apparently this is targeted not as a PC replacement, but a PC supplement; think of it as a limited terminal instead of a PC. What will be neat is to see if it can be hacked to work as an X terminal.
  • Well, the Gateway info page [gateway.com] suggests this one iss being marketed as a supplement for homes that already have PCs, not as a device for people without PCs. "No muss, no fuss, let you kids surf the Internet while you run Quicken on the computer."

    So, it's aimed at a different market segment. Whether that will help or not remains to be seen...
  • I think I read somewhere that it was intended to retail for $599! I don't know about the rest of you but I can buy a full PC for less. The only way this is going to take off is if this baby is in the VCR price range. It should be simple but also CHEAP! It will be hard for parents to swallow when kids say "I want Santa to get me a XYZ" when that XYZ is $599. If they can make a profit selling it for $100, they should... and no more than $200 or forget about the product. It will only appeal to slashdot readers if the price is any higher.
  • Hmmmm....so it really is AOL after all!
  • by Nate Fox ( 1271 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @11:04AM (#631255)
    > "...works only with Internet service provided by America Online..."

    According to the AP story [yahoo.com] you posted:
    "The device"..."can use either a traditional dial-up connection or, when networked with a PC, a high-speed Internet connection."

    I was thinking: if it really could 'only' be used with an AOL connection, it should be trivial to see how this linux box connects to AOL, and therefore give us the ability to connect to AOL via linux (thus allowing for grandmother to use a nice OS and her favorite Online Service).

    -----
    If Bill Gates had a nickel for every time Windows crashed...
  • by sleight ( 22003 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @11:42AM (#631256)
    I don't understand any of the excitement -- apart from perhaps the Transmeta chip under the hood. There's very little difference between this toy and Compaq's new iPaq web appliance. They're both desktop/tabletop devices and they both have wires (although fewer than your standard PC.

    I think what most of us would like would be a "web tablet"; something about the form factor of a tablet of paper with 802.11 connectivity to a base station of some sort.

    If it weren't for the ridiculous expense of 802.11 (as Lucent is the sole provider I know of these days), I'd turn my iPaq PocketPC into a small version of what I describe above.

    802.11 is too damned expensive.
  • by levik ( 52444 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @10:47AM (#631257) Homepage
    Well, there's a bunch of words nobody at slashdot expected to see in the same sentence... Who could have thought we'd have a transmeta/linux based appliance that comes from the Microsoft of the Iternet...

    I wonder if this is a genuine effort, or just an attempt to dumb down these cool technologies for the average AOL brain-dead users...

  • by iamsure ( 66666 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @10:49AM (#631258) Homepage
    The true question is, how long will it take to figure out what they did, and re-code the little bugger to do what we want it to do?

    Also, will this be a good test of transmeta's performance finally?

    What ability will there be for people to upgrade the software (netscape 6 anyone?)?

    Is winamp included? :)

    But most importantly of all (I just COULDNT resist) -- I wonder what a beowolf cluster of these would do for Seti@home?

    :)
  • by RedX ( 71326 ) <[redx] [at] [wideopenwest.com]> on Friday November 10, 2000 @11:28AM (#631259)
    I don't disagree that the price is pretty painful; the point is that Portability Costs. You can't take that $500 AMD K6-based system into the bathroom and flame people on Slashdot whilst "on the throne." You can't carry it into the kitchen and write up a list of groceries to get. Lots of can'ts there.

    And unless you have an rj-11 jack and power source near the toilet, you won't be flaming with this device either. This device is not a portable device like the much-touted wireless WebPads will be, this is a table-top device with a footprint that allows you to use it in places besides the typical office desk. You don't be carrying this into the kitchen to do a grocery list unless you want to power the unit down, unplug it, carrry it into the kitchen, plug it in, power it up, etc.

  • I believe that this is, in fact, a genuine effort.

    Its a genuine effort the part of AOL to leverage three really stunning buzz words to sell their product: Linux, Internet Appliance, and Transmeta.

    Unfortunately for them, I think they've really confused their audience. If the customer is actually supposed to get attracted by the idea of Linux and Transmeta, they won't have anything to do with AOL. Conversely, the people attracted to an "Internet Appliance" probably don't have the slightest idea what Linux or Tranmeta means.

    What they've created is an internet appliance that opens up the internet to non-tech savy consumers. Sort of an "I-Opener". Wait a minute ...
  • by HiyaPower ( 131263 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @11:06AM (#631261)
    Lord knows every other internet appliance has failed miserably. Netpliance an nounced [bigcharts.com] that they will be getting out of the business, Virgin has bailed out (and yes Virginia, the bios password was hacked within 24 hours of that announcement), WebPods had all of 300 subscribers, etc. Somehow, the lack of local hard storage to store stuff plus (frequently) a poor isp service, doomed these guys. I wonder if this guy will be any different?
  • by ca1v1n ( 135902 ) <snook&guanotronic,com> on Friday November 10, 2000 @10:58AM (#631262)
    AOL is using Linux in their latest attempt to take over the world. We must stop developing Linux immediately, or else we'll be doing their dirty work for them!
  • by h0tr0d ( 160151 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @11:28AM (#631263)
    This one has got a lot more chance of success than any of it's predecessors. Why? Two things:
    • AOL
      Gateway

    Sure, it doesn't have any local storage, etc. but this is exactly what most older or less technically inclined people are looking for. I can already see Grandmas lining up to get at these things. Knowing that their trusty grandson/daughter geek won't have to come over and set anything up like they would with a pesky computer. They also won't have to worry about any of those annoying worms/trojan horse/MS macro or script viruses. For the ignorant internet user this is the ideal solution. The people who will flock to these are either already AOL users or have many friends/relatives who are. With two well known (to the common person) companies behind it these have a lot more going for them than any of the others. All of the failures so far have either been a) unheard of start-ups or b) well known for other things and people just weren't sure anout this new venture.

    Of course, this is all just in theory.

  • by g_mcbay ( 201099 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @11:34AM (#631264)
    His point was that WinAmp is an AOL product (AOL owns nullsoft). Therefore maybe it would be ported and made available..

    In any case, I haven't seen any indiciation that it would.

  • by clinko ( 232501 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @10:44AM (#631265) Journal
    It's LINUX! IT RULES!!

    what? It's AOL?!?

    It's AOL! IT SUCKS!

    Did you say Transmeta?

    OH GOD! WHAT DO I DO?!?!
  • by Throw Away Account ( 240185 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @11:18AM (#631266)
    Sure. See the picture here [gateway.com].

    And apparently it will connect to AOL through a broadband ISP hookup, so disabling the connection to AOL shouldn't be too hard. A hard drive will probably be harder, but if you can instead get it to work as an X terminal...
  • by Barbarian ( 9467 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @11:47AM (#631267)
    According to the page here: on Gateway's site [gateway.com], it has built in home-phoneline networking. This is rather useful for many people, although lots of /. readers probably have cat-5 strung around (and /. readers probably wouldn't want to use this unless it could be hacked to not use AOL. although if it was just aol's browser, and not their service, it wouldn't be that bad for a device to give to family members to keep them off your PC).

    In addition, it has optional ethernet, and dial up (V90). So I don't think you're too limited here for connectivity.

    BTW, lots of PC's come with home phone line networking built in. My brother's Presario 7597 has a combo v90 modem/home phone line networking card plus ethernet built in. In any case, a lot of people will be able to plug these devices into their pc's pretty easily to share a broadband connection.

    --
  • by Christopher B. Brown ( 1267 ) <cbbrowne@gmail.com> on Friday November 10, 2000 @11:13AM (#631268) Homepage
    The price has little to do with the CPU; it is unlikely that the CPU contributes more than $100 to the pricetag. Furthermore, it is unlikely that building an equivalent machine using AMD or Intel (or MIPS or StrongARM of whatever provenance) CPUs would have much effect on the remaining $500 of the pricetag.

    The reason why the unit is priced at $600 is that it costs a fair bit of money to put together:

    • A suitably small motherboard
    • A suitably large touch-sensitive LCD screen
    • Some sort of storage that fits in...
    • A case built specifically to integrate all of the above into one handheld package that might survive dropping it onto the floor.

    Consider the pricing on PDAs; this unit potentially does a lot more than the Compaq iPAQ units that are priced at around $500.

    I don't disagree that the price is pretty painful; the point is that Portability Costs. You can't take that $500 AMD K6-based system into the bathroom and flame people on Slashdot whilst "on the throne." You can't carry it into the kitchen and write up a list of groceries to get. Lots of can'ts there.

  • by F250SuperDuty ( 65363 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @11:00AM (#631269) Homepage
    Hey, now when script kiddies break in, they'll hear "You've got root!"..

    -Kris
  • by jbarnett ( 127033 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @11:09AM (#631270) Homepage

    FINALLY prove that there CAN be 31337 AOL users

    Yea, but you are really going to confuse a Linux user that hasn't heard the news yet.

    "Yea I run LINE-NU-X"

    "Cool what distro you run"

    "AOL 6.0, IT IS EASIER THEN EVER"

    "Uh, I don't understand, you run that buggy AIM client on it? Have you tried GAIM? Why are you shouting?"

    "NO AOL LINE-NU-X 6.0!"

    "Um what kernel? what proc?"

    "AOL KERNEL 6.0! PROCESSER IS GATEWAY!"

    "Are you sure? Do you see a bunch of clouds when you boot up?"

    "WHEN I TURN ON THE MACHINE I SEE A HAPPY PENGUIN HUGGING THE AOL LOGO!!!"

    "Why are you shouting, what the hell are you talking about?"

    "I AM TALKING ABOUT LINE-NU-X 6.0 NO WONDER IT IS NUMBER ONE IT IS SO EASY TO USE!!!"

    "Did Fred in programming down the hall set you up to this? How much did he pay you?"

    "WHAT ?!?!?! FRED DOESN'T DIAL UP TO LINE-NU-X 6.0 INTERNET SERVICE!"


  • by ca1v1n ( 135902 ) <snook&guanotronic,com> on Friday November 10, 2000 @11:08AM (#631271)
    ...that it doesn't come with a shell, they don't give the root password, the whole thing resembles a Linux box even less than a Tivo, they might not even HAVE a root password, the board is sealed with all the pins covered in opaque hard plastic, and the permissions are set very strictly to avoid any kind of circumvention. It's possible to make a box extremely difficult to crack in software, and with a little forward thinking, make it useless if cracked in hardware.
  • by Johnny Starrock ( 227040 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @10:43AM (#631272)
    For those who don't feel like watching the webcast, Here's the AP story [yahoo.com]

    "...works only with Internet service provided by America Online..."
    Give me 5 minutes. =)

If you fail to plan, plan to fail.

Working...