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Pepper Creates New Category With The Pad

New York — Pepper Computers’ first consumer product, the Pad, is not quite a notebook computer, but it is quite a bit more than a high-end TV remote control.

The handheld device is intended to bridge the gap between these two devices and give consumers a simple way to access the Internet and program and control their networked A/V systems, said Len Kawell, CEO of the three-year-old company.

“This is especially for someone looking for a product beside the PC to get to the Web and one that is not susceptible to spyware and viruses,” he said.

The 2.5-pound, hardcover-book-sized Pad is centered on around 8.4-inch screen and features two Blackberry-like keypads on the left and right handles. It is 802.11b Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled, allowing users to view the Web or multimedia data anywhere within their network. The Pad uses Linux-based software and an Xscale processor. A 20GB hard drive is included.

Kawell expects it to hit retail in July with a $949 suggested retail price. He admitted the initial asking price is almost twice as expensive as he would like, but he still expects first adopters and the tech savvy to be intrigued by its convenience.

“It is more portable then a comparable-priced notebook, and it will not have any spyware issues,” he said, adding that unlike a true computer it is tuned to only deliver a good multimedia experience.

The Pad uses the Mozilla Web browser, can access POP3 e-mail clients, has AOL Instant Messenger built in and is rugged and water-resistant for use outside the home.