December 17th, 2009

Audrey versus Litl: What a difference a decade can make.

I think the 3.com Audrey was the first computing device I remember that was meant to be strictly a home internet appliance device.... back when dial-up was the cornerstone of residential connectivity and VCRs were the dominate home entertainment format.

I think its interesting to compare the design decisions that went into the Audrey and the decisions that went into the Litl. The biggest difference is of course the Litl's focus on consumable digital media....something that didn't really exist a decade ago. And of course Litl's wireless support..again something that wasn't common a decade ago. But beyond that there are a lot of similarities. The both have the concept of channels. Audrey had a knob.. litl has a wheel. Audrey had a wireless keyboard... you can hide. Litl's keyboard hides in easel mode.

What I really want to know is how hack-friendly is the Litl device? Audrey was extremely hack friendly and as a result the hardware itself remained quite usable beyond the very short lifetime when its online services were available. A loyal cult following of technically proficienty Audrey owners were able to spin up multiple alternative QNX images to extend Audrey's functionality well past the original designers intent (and well past 3.com's interest in selling and supporting the device.)

-jef