iRiver is known for pumping out surprisingly slick personal media players, but with the Wave-Home it’s taking aim at a different market: Your family’s media/communications hub. You have one of those don’t you?
Well, if you don’t then the Wave-Home — despite it looking like a weird hybrid at first — might actually fit the bill. It’s a two-piece gadget that connects to your broadband router and acts as a VOIP-phone, digital photo frame, video player, music player and internet video phone. It will also run widgets and Flash-based games, browse the Web, send and receive SMS and MMS texts, and features a built-in FM radio if you don’t want to use its internet radio function. The base station has a 7-inch 800 x 480-pixel TFT touchscreen with stylus, a 1.3-megapixel webcam, 2.5W stereo speakers, SD card slot and acts as a USB2 host. Meanwhile the wireless handset looks more like a conventional candy bar home phone.
It’s the sort of device I imagine ending up in the kitchen: you can check recipes while cooking, chat with your friends, pop on some music and ogle your family photos when you’re not doing much else. Basically it’s an innovation we’ve been seeing on and off in sci-fi movies for years.
The Wave-Home’s pricing and release schedule hasn’t been announced yet, but for it to work it’ll have to come at just the right price: nowadays everyone’s notebook PC or even netbook can do all of that stuff, and they’re portable.