As Internet Appliances start hitting the market, PC suppliers are attempting to come up with new ways of making their offerings more attractive to users.
As a result, Intel is expected to preview new designs from top tier PC makers, based on the Easy PC initiative, at its developers forum later this month. The scheme, which was launched last September, is aimed at making PCs easier to use by simplifying software and hardware designs and removing parallel and serial ports.
The initiative is backed by companies such as Intel, Microsoft, and PC makers, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.
Earlier this year, Microsoft and Intel also said they would design PCs that were optimised for connectivity and could be configured automatically with a single phone call. The machines will include plug and play features such as USB technology, which means that customers do not need to open the box to expand the system.
The scheme is supported by companies such as Compaq Computer, Dell Computer, Fujitsu Microelectronics, and Toshiba, which said they would deliver products by the end of the year.
Mattel, on the other hand, has just rolled out two new PCs for children that it developed with Patriot Computers of Canada - a silver Barbie machine decorated with purple and pink flowers, and a dark blue Hot Wheels model, complete with orange and yellow flames.
The computers, which are both based on a 333 MHz Intel Celeron chip and come with a 15 inch monitor, will be sold directly through Patriot and via the Web from mid September.
Schelley Olhava, an analyst at IDC, said: "I don't think they're going to take the industry by storm, but there is probably a niche audience, who would be interested in this for their kids."
Mattel, in partnership with Hewlett-Packard’s (HP) Apollo Consumer Products, also introduced Barbie branded printers earlier this year.
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