Innovation That Matters

Simplified web computer mimics TV

Work & Lifestyle

Moore’s law may dictate that computing performance can double about every two years, but the fact remains that most personal computers to date have been built on roughly the same, work-focused paradigm. Netbooks have begun to push things closer to the web, but now a new contender is taking that several steps further with a home computer it calls a “webbook” that was created from scratch to mimic TV. Launched in November, Litl is a clutter-free, zero-maintenance home computer for the whole family. Focusing initially on photo sharing and the web, the Boston-based team behind Litl set out to redesign the computer from the bottom up for simplicity and ease of use. The device’s operating system, for example, revolves around an intuitive, web-linked interface that eliminates menus, icons, windows and folders. Instead, it uses a system reminiscent of Apple’s iPhone OS, whereby each application takes up the full screen and a simple click returns the user to the homepage. There’s no hard drive to fail, and the computer takes care of all maintenance updates overnight. Perhaps even more interesting, however, is that when it’s not being used as a conventional laptop, the webbook’s 12-inch screen and keyboard flip around its patented hinge so the computer can stand upright like an easel. A 178-degree viewing “cone” allows many people to clearly view the screen at the same time, while a hinge-mounted scroll wheel for changing web “channels” and an optional remote further enhance the device’s TV-like experience. For expanded viewing, Litl also offers plug-and-play connectivity to large-screen, high-definition TVs. The device currently features several proprietary channels dedicated to content from Flickr, Shutterfly, Facebook and the Weather Channel; thanks to its use of cloud-based storage, meanwhile, sharing with other Litl users is easy. The “always on” Litl computer is available online for USD 699 with a free, two-year unconditional satisfaction guarantee. Judging by the success netbooks have already achieved, there’s clearly something to the idea of focusing home computers on the web—many, in fact, predict that will be the future of personal computing. Litl says it will soon provide the technical details necessary for independent developers and potential partners to create custom channels of their own, so for app-minded entrepreneurs, this could be one to get in on early. For all others, it’s definitely one to watch! (Related: Spillproof cooking coach: a touchpad made for kitchens.) Spotted by: Ruben Vermeersch



Download PDF