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CMI's iCEBOX Provides Kitchen Connection

In April, CMI Worldwide begins delivering its iCEBOX, the countertop version of the company's "infopliance" for the kitchen.

The unit -- which includes a wireless, waterproof, greaseproof keyboard -- provides Internet access and cable TV viewing and plays audio and video CDs. Used with a digital camera, it can also monitor other rooms in the home.

A step-up version, designed to mount under a kitchen cabinet, adds a DVD player and broadband capability.

CMI's chairman/CEO Bob Lamson said the target price for the countertop version, to be sold through traditional electronics/appliance retail channels, will be $499. The company is seeking arrangements with service providers to reduce prices for purchasers who sign up for portal memberships, he said.

The step-up iCEBOX, coming in May at $2,000, is designed for installation in new or remodeled kitchens and will be sold through builders and remodeling channels.

"We expect that 75 percent of our target customers will already have a PC in their homes, but the iCEBOX is designed so people who have no interest in computers can use it," Lamson said.

Bob Harrison, CMI's chief technical officer, said the company is currently working with Electrolux in Europe to develop ways to interface the under-cabinet iCEBOX with appliances.

Later this year an iCEBOX model will be introduced in Europe that can transmit a message to its owner's cellphone saying, for example, that the oven has been left on. The owner then keys in a code to turn the oven off remotely.