Oddball Micros: 3Com Audrey
By James Grahame
Audrey is the best looking oddball microcomputer ever featured on Retro Thing. She's also the newest. 3Com (now part of Cisco) introduced the Ergo Audrey Internet appliance in late 2000. The $499 device was envisioned as a web surfing and email device for the masses. She was designed to be washable (ooh) and came in five excruciating colors:slate, ocean, sunshine, meadow and linen.
Technically, Audrey was a neat machine. She runs the QNX 2000 operating system and includes a touchscreen stylus. The guts include a 200-MHz Geode GX1 processor, 16MB of ROM, 32MB of RAM, and a built-in 56K modem (that's right -- no hard drive). She even supports a built-in wi-fi upgrade and the sleek little wireless keyboard tucks behind the screen when not in use.
The problem with Audrey and her friends was that manufacturers were rushing into an "appliance" market that didn't really exist. It makes far more sense for most people to buy a slightly more full-fledged computer, and you can bet that Audrey wasn't a lean, mean gaming platform.