A Cuter Computer

Audrey, new from 3Com, makes Internet appliances look good. But she's no cheap date

It's tough to feel affection for a trapezoidal slab of metal and plastic. In fact, when I first laid eyes on Audrey, the new Internet appliance unveiled by 3Com last week, I was underwhelmed. Here we go again, I thought: yet another overpriced, underperforming PC wannabe. Like many of the so-called Net appliances that preceded it (see below), Audrey promises the joys of the Net without the cost or unwieldiness of a full-featured computer. Given the lackluster company it keeps, though, that's not saying much.

What makes Audrey different is that it offers enough stylish touches to make what few functions...

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