Webpads are touch- or pen-sensitive LCD screens that sit on your lap and let you use the web in a knees-up-on-the-sofa kind of way. Connected to web-enabled TVs by Bluetooth radio, webpads will make surfing easier than peering at a gogglebox three metres away. More tasteful, too, than having a keyboard on the coffee table.
Intel will enter the fray with its Celeron chip and Linux software, and Microsoft has plans for web 'companions' running Windows CE. A full-scale product, complete with an 800 by 600 pixel colour screen made by National Semiconductor, will shortly be available from Qubit Technology.
First in the race, however, could be a firm named Transmeta. Its Crusoe chips run Linux and, because they require only very low voltages, can get away with very modest batteries.
Transmeta should launch in the US by the summer. After that, webpads won't even need to be near a TV: the second generation will be completely wireless.