The manufacturers of a Linux-based handheld media computer are looking towards the local security and home automation channel as they plan for an expansion into the Australian market later this year.
The Pepper Pad, an all-in-one device designed for lounge room Internet access and viewing of media files, has an unusual design with its built-in keyboard split across either side of its 8.4-inch display. A 20GB hard drive is built into the product, as well as 256MB of memory.
Using a closed Linux environment minimised the need for security updates which had been working on the development of the device since 2002, a Pepper spokesperson said.
Built-in applications for email, Internet access and photo viewing can be expanded through custom-developed applications for the pad, which retails for around $US850 in North America.
First launched in the US in July, Pepper Pad had already expanded its distribution network into Europe and launched an international power adaptor pack to attract non-US consumers.
Building out a full international distribution network was a major priority for the company, a Pepper spokesperson said.
Currently, most international customers are restricted to purchasing via the company's Web site.
Pepper will be exploring all retail angles in Australia, including working with major retail channels and allowing the pad to be rebranded under OEM agreements. However, the company is particularly keen to sell the device through home automation specialists, since it can provide a useful central hub for automating a variety of devices such as security systems and entertainment networks, the spokesperson said.
In the US, Pepper has scored distribution deals with online retail giant, Amazon.com, and consumer chain, Best Buys.
An updated model, the Pepper Pad Plus, was launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January and is due for release in the second quarter.
The Plus model adds support for 802.11b/g wireless (the current model only supports 802.11b), Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) and enhanced battery life. Further enhancements are planned this year, including a white casing as an alternative to the current silver packaging.