The return of The Jetsons

George Jetson may be coming to your house sooner than you think, if research at computer chip manufacturers Intel and Cyrix continues to progress. If you recall the 1960s cartoon, George and his family lived far off in the future, with the usual flying saucer cars and robots. They also had a touch screen for easy communication, which the new “web tablet” now under development has beaten three ways to Sunday.

Intel’s Architecture Labs is now developing a design for a new wireless tablet device that will let you access local information and Internet content from the comfort of, well anywhere in your house. Cyrix is working on a similar device, and plans to introduce it within a year. Researchers say that wireless devices will greatly increase the value of Internet services in the home, as “non-tech” users will quickly latch on to an “electronic tablet” that gives them virtually all the information in the world literally at their fingertips.

Intel has studied 43 families in one community to find that the ideal device should be portable, personalized, instantaneous and simple to use. Of course, consumers also want it to be low in price, but that could take awhile as sponsohip opportunities develop. The tablet will probably cost about $800 to start, and communicate with the Internet through a console attached to your phone line.

Intel’s device lets users instantly access personal “portal” web pages, which have local information (traffic, weather, etc) and general news and stock market information. Intel researchers that the unit’s “instant on” feature is key to its success, research shows that users aren’t willing to wait for even 20 seconds while a portable device accesses the Net. The Jetsons, here we come!