I wrote a number of months ago about the need for a new web appliance. A web appliance is a device that only accesses the Internet. Web TV (now MSN TV) is the only device that sort of falls in this category. What I envision (and wish I had the knowledge to build) is a flat screen monitor with built-in speakers and a cordless bluetooth connection to talk to a mouse, keyboard, and a printer. It would also have a card reader to interact with a digital camera and a wireless and/or Ethernet port for high speed Internet access.
It would not have a hard drive or anyway to load applications. All programs and document storage would be online ala Google Docs and Gmail. The vast majority of clients I work with do only three or four things: Internet, email, games, and maybe some word processing and/or digital photography. All of this (and more) can be currently accomplished online thus circumventing the need for anything but an Internet connection. Also, this type of user would benefit greatly by not needing to worry about backup and where their documents are when they need them. It would take away the need for the user to learn and understand file management (which is sorely missing for most computer users).
A great Internet appliance like this would not replace the personal computer because there are users who need and utilize fully the power of the computer. This device would be an inexpensive unit that would not need upgrading and would be tremendously easier to use than our current system of PC's and companies who build hardware and software for the PC's which require users to change the way they do things constantly. A well thought out and solidly built Internet appliance would be the telephone of the computer age…simple, effective, easy to use and no upgrades necessary because the innovation happens on the web not on our desktops.