Surfing the Web without a PC

The raging debate at the biggest computer-industry trade show this year is whether personal computers themselves are still relevant in the Internet age.

Several products demonstrated at the Las Vegas show could surf the Internet, send e-mail, and run software off the Internet, without the expense and complexity of maintaining a PC.

Many sit atop your TV; a few have their own screens. They're all smaller than a VCR.

*The i-opener from Netpliance Inc. comes with its own screen, costs $200, plus $21.95 for monthly Web access.

*The iPHone from Infogear offers a touch screen, built-in phone, and digital answering machine. The $400 price includes three years' Web access.

*MailStation from Cidco Inc., looks like a laptop keyboard with a tiny screen. It starts at $99, runs on batteries, can connect to a regular computer printer, and has a calculator.

*NetDisplay from Global Converging Technologies has a tiny touch-screen, and includes a cordless telephone for $399.

*Sony's PlayStation2, due out next year, will play audio CDs and DVD movies, video games, as well as surf the Internet.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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